Sport Get to know the young players who could make an impact for the San Antonio Spurs

00:51  20 september  2021
00:51  20 september  2021 Source:   sportingnews.com

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The San Antonio Spurs are well past the days of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili. They're past the days of Kawhi Leonard, and even past the days of LaMarcus Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan, too.

After their 22-year streak came to an end in 2020, the Spurs have missed the playoffs in consecutive seasons for the first time in the franchise's 53-year history.

As they're set to enter a rebuilding stage with a new core of young players, the casual fan may be surprised to see so many unfamiliar faces in a typically familar uniform.

While young players like Dejounte Murray, Derrick White and Lonnie Walker IV have been making a name for themselves over the past few years, there's a crop of other young players who will likely see significant minutes this season.

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Alongside newly acquired veterans like Thaddeus Young, Doug McDermott and Al-Farouq Aminu, a known name in Zach Collins and the return of Bryn Forbes, take a look at some Spurs' players to entering the 2021-22 season.

Keldon Johnson

a man standing in front of a crowd: Keldon Johnson © Provided by Sporting News Keldon Johnson

It would be disrespectful to say that Johnson is an unknown after the solid sophomore season he had last year, but he should be poised for a true breakout season in Year 3. As the No. 29 overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, the Spurs found a diamond in the rough in Johnson, a versatile and athletic forward out of the University of Kentucky.

He didn't see much playing time as a rookie, but he worked his way into a spot in the Spurs' starting five a season ago and made the most of his opportunity. Johnson averaged 12.8 points, 6.0 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game, doing a little bit of everything for San Antonio on both ends of the floor.

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His signature performance came in the form of a 23-point, 21-rebound double-double against the Cleveland Cavaliers, impressively ripping down 11 offensive boards. He recorded eight double-doubles last season and recorded over 20 points in a game nine times.

After catching an invite to play for Team USA at the Tokyo Olympics, Johnson spent invaluable time with a group of the best players in the world, earning a Gold medal in the process. He'll be a mainstay in the Spurs' core for the foreseeable future.

Devin Vassell

Vassell Westbrook © Provided by Sporting News Vassell Westbrook

Vassell was in a bit of a bind for playing time during his rookie season, only playing 17.0 minutes per game. The 21-year-old Florida State product has high upside potential, though, as a 6-foot-5 sharpshooting wing with a lengthy 6-foot-10 wingspan.

He had a handful of promising games last season, including an 18-point game where he knocked down four 3s to go with two blocks against the Western Conference champion Phoenix Suns. He had nine games with multiple steals and while he shot 34.7 percent from 3, he only attempted 2.4 3s per game, so he didn't have much opportunity to get into a rhythm.

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Playing time should be more available this season, so look for Vassell to breakout out of his shell a little bit more.

Tre Jones

a person standing in front of a crowd: Tre Jones © Provided by Sporting News Tre Jones

Jones was another player who didn't play much with the Spurs last season, but they may use him more as a reserve guard this season. The former ACC Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year out of Duke started showing flashes of potential at Summer League in August, averaging 22.8 points, 6.3 assists and 4.8 rebounds per game while shooting 50.7 percent from the field and 36.4 percent from 3.

There are little concerns about his ability to defend or playmake, but the growth of his perimeter shooting and scoring could determine the consistency of his playing time moving forward.

Jock Landale

Jahlil Okafor, Maxi Kleber are posing for a picture: #Landale #Okafor © Provided by Sporting News #Landale #Okafor

Landale is well known overseas, but he'll be a rookie in the NBA this upcoming season. The Australian forward had a very decorated 2021, leading Melbourne United to an NBL title while taking home Grand Final MVP honours. He then starred for the Boomers at the Tokyo Olympics, helping Australia win its first-ever Olympic medal when they took home Bronze at the tournament.

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Landale averaged 16.4 points, 7.8 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.5 blocks while shooting 54.5 percent from the field and 38.9 percent from 3 for Melbourne United last season. He went on to average 12.8 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.2 assists for the Boomers at the Olympics, including an efficient 14-point game (6-8 FG) in the Bronze Medal match against Slovenia.

His productive 2021 campaign landed him a two-year deal with the Spurs, and the 25-year-old forward should see plenty of opportunity to prove he belongs in the NBA.

Josh Primo

a person holding a basketball: Josh Primo, San Antonio Spurs © Provided by Sporting News Josh Primo, San Antonio Spurs

Primo was one of the most surprising picks in the 2021 NBA Draft, going well above any projections when the Spurs selected him with the No. 12 overall pick. The 18-year-old – who doesn't even turn 19 until Christmas Eve – was the youngest player in the draft, and as a 6-foot-6 guard, it's easy to see the potential the San Antonio Spurs see in him.

Primo's plus-size gives him an intriguing edge on the defensive end, using his long arms to disrupt ball handlers and passing lanes. He's known for his spot-up perimeter shooting because that was primarily his role during his one season at Alabama, but he showcased his progression as a shot creator during the NBA combine and Summer League, getting to his spots off the dribble and using his height to his advantage when attacking the basket.

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The Canadian guard may be a few years away from truly contributing to the Spurs, but with their highly-renowned player development program, it will be interesting to see what Primo turns in to.

Joe Wieskamp

Erton Fejzullahu holding a baseball bat: Joe Wieskamp, San Antonio Spurs © Provided by Sporting News Joe Wieskamp, San Antonio Spurs

Wieskamp was a beneficiary of a stellar NBA Combine, shooting the lights out in front of scouts and executives. The upperclassmen out of Iowa drew Duncan Robinson comparisons throughout the 2021 NBA Draft process as a 6-foot-6 marksmen who shot 41.2 percent from 3 over three college seasons, including his final junior season where he buried 46.2 percent of his 5.1 3-point attempts per game.

The Spurs elected to take Wieskamp with the No. 41 overall pick in the draft, adding a much-needed perimeter shooter to a team that finished dead-last in 3-pointers made per game last season, and have finished in the bottom five of that category in each of the last four seasons.

Wieskamp is only on a two-way contract, so you might not see too much of him this season, but he'll be a name to monitor for the future.

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