San Antonio Spurs: No. 2 - Luka Samanic
Having Luka Samanic this high on the list might seem strange, but remember, this is about the biggest leap, not most promise or talent -- though he has those as well. As it stands now, Samanic has a lot going for him when it comes to taking a major step in his career next season.
For one, it's easier to show bigger growth when you're so low in the rotation. Samanic averaged just 9.3 minutes per game and showed up in just 33 games last year, even with injuries and COVID plaguing the team. Still, he produced when called upon at times and showed promising defensive positioning against all sizes of opponents.
Luka's best stretch was when he scored eight, 14, and nine points in three games over four days, which averaged out to 10.3 points on 40 percent shooting from beyond the arc. It was clear that his quick stint in Austin this season did wonders for his confidence and attitude the game. Before the stint, he looked disinterested on the court, not showing much emotion and even appearing bored at times.
Post-Austin Luka was a different animal -- one that guarded multiple guys on one play, helped in the paint, and even started driving for strong finishes or dishes at the basket.
Come next season, it's time for Gregg Popovich to unleash Luka Samanic for more minutes than he's ever had before. It's time to see if the 19th pick in the 2019 NBA Draft is the real deal or let him show off somewhere else. I'm a believer in Luka -- he just needs a real shot.