June 25, 2024

Popovich’s recent decision hints at Spurs’ changing of the guard

Gregg Popovich signs 5-year extension with Spurs | NBA.com

In their quest for improvement, the San Antonio Spurs made a switch in their rotations that has not gone unnoticed.

Malaki Branham has been the source of much frustration this year. He started the season with a bench role; he played pretty poorly, then had a decent offensive stretch as a starter (that was a confusing decision) but it tapered off and he has been a lackluster performer in whatever role given to him ever since. The San Antonio Spurs coaching staff has clearly taken notice as his minutes have seen a noticeable decrease.

Branham garnered attention when drafted because of his scoring prowess. He was seen as a classic bucket-getter who could score at multiple levels. He has shown occasional flashes of that skill in the Silver and Black uniform, but his inconsistency is so blatant that there is no way a team can justify sustained minutes for the Ohio native. Fortunately for the Spurs, his decline coincides with a pleasantly surprising uprise from another young guard.

Blake Wesley should receive all of Malaki Branham’s minutes

The Blake Wesley train really started back in December on the 23rd in a game against the Dallas Mavericks. Wesley came off the bench for 12 minutes and posted a +7 in the plus/minus statistics. He contributed five points on 2/3 from the field with three assists, three steals, and no turnovers. The second-year guard plays an aggressive style of basketball, using his dynamic speed and quick twitch to disrupt the defensive end and put pressure on opposing defenses in the open court.

Wesley plays like a young kid going after the gold. He seems unafraid of making mistakes, content to embrace the struggles of learning, but determined to make an impact.

Malaki Branham

It is that unwavering effort that earned him his third-highest minutes total of the season. That same effort will continue to inspire his teammates, as it did in the Atlanta game because when Blake takes the floor, you know a hungry dog is about to eat and when one eats, they all eat.

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