Another day, another second-half collapse. The San Antonio Spurs have been following a dismal script so predictable that the CW wants to put it on their streaming platform. The team has fallen into a Groundhog Day-like habit of giving fans optimism that they are getting it together, playing good basketball early until the inevitable fall off a cliff when their opponents decide enough is enough. It's a story Coach Gregg Popovich has grown tired of.
Pop elaborated to say the consistency he was referring to was on both sides of the floor. He even specified the starters as the main culprits and focus of his angst. The question of which player or players he is specifically talking about remains unanswered, but it is not difficult to look at a number of them and see they are falling short of expectations. But the commitment the Spurs made to the development of their key pieces puts more on one player's shoulders.
Malaki Branham is the odd man out
When fans were begging for Coach Pop to stop running his Jeremy Sochan point guard experiment, many were expecting the fix to be simple: just insert Tre Jones in with the starters. He is the best true point guard on the team. Instead, the 5-time champion coach opted for Malaki Branham in a move that stunned the fan base.
Pop has made questionable decision-making a habit this season. Branham has been a solid scorer in stretches, but his defense is poor, and if he is not hitting shots, he is a liability on the floor. There were many moves Coach Pop could have made, and this one just seems like it has been a waste of time.
In the Utah game, Branham finished the game with zero points in 17 minutes of action. That's just not going to get it done. Devin Vassell just signed an extension. The Sochan experiment suggests they have big, long-term plans for Jeremy. Champagnie played well enough, going 6-9 from the field, and since he is so new to the lineup, it is unlikely he is being referenced here. Victor Wembanyama is untouchable for clear reasons. The obvious move would be to send Branham back to the bench, and quite honestly, he never should have been off of it.