5. Luka Samanic (Age: 21)
The clock is ticking on Luka Samanic. With just 36 games in his body of work over two seasons, it really seems like this might be his last go-around in San Antonio if he doesn't show the coaching staff something. Of course, Coach Popovich needs to show him something too -- mainly minutes.
The 6-10 forward was noticeably too light to mix it up with some of the bigger guys in the league in his first two seasons. He addressed that by adding some muscle over the summer. As a big with a jump shot, he has a skill set that's rare for the Spurs and can really stand out. He just hasn't done that so far.
The next step in Luka's on-court development has to be a boost of hustle and energy. There are times when he shows flashes of it, particularly on the defensive end. He's very quick on his feet on the perimeter and good about getting his hands up and contesting. Offensively, however, it's another story.
There's a bit of a conundrum when it comes to what Samanic should be doing on offense for the Spurs. On one hand, we've been asking to see him be aggressive and use his frame to get to the rim for a while. On the other hand, he has a bit of a clunky drive right now. In his limited opportunities, he's often doing his behind-the-back dribble drive only to lose the ball or be met strongly at the rim.
Yet other times, he finds his way to the hoop and uses his size to score over the top of defenders. It'll all sort itself with repetitions, but the biggest question is will he get them? Coach Popovich never seems to play Samanic for stretches long enough to get into a rhythm. I'm talking real, actual, rotation minutes for long stretches.
While it's partly the team's fault and partly his own, Luka falls at fifth on the list for now, and this year is probably the one where we find out if he'll advance any higher.