Blake Wesley shines for Tottenham despite losing in Las Vegas Summer League

Blake Wesley shines for Tottenham despite losing in Las Vegas Summer League

The San Antonio Spurs narrowly edged out the Golden State Warriors, 85-86, trailing their 17-point lead in the third quarter, effectively slipping away from their first win in Las Vegas. Although the good players are 0-2 in the summer league, they have shown greater cohesion as a unit, especially on the defensive side.

San Antonio entered the crowded Thomas and Mac position as underdogs for a team that featured a pair of top-ten picks in James Wiseman and Jonathan Cominga, and the crowd provided insightful support for the 2022 NBA champions. Despite the uphill battle, the reductive Summer Spears competed from start to finish.

Coach Mitch Johnson rotated nine players rigidly, leaving juniors like Josh Primo, Blake Wesley, Malaki Branham and Dominic Barlow to handle the tides of the game. While his team didn’t quite live up to the annoyance, they touted their resilience on both sides of the hardwood against high-level expectations.

“I think the defense took a step forward today, which is good for the most part,” Johnson told reporters. “You give them credit. They are big, strong and athletic. Wiseman and Kuminga are monsters, especially at this level.”

While this match looked more like a team effort than their first outing in the Summer League, there were a number of great individual performances worth a closer look. So without further ado, here are the highlights from the second game in Las Vegas.

Blake Wesley (22 points, 5 rebounds, 3 turns, 7 of 20)

Blake Wesley led Tottenham in scoring for the second game in a row, scoring 22 points at the team’s highest for 30 minutes. The 19-year-old goalkeeper had no problems penetrating the first layer of defense, but he imposed the problem a lot because he was always blocking or changing his passes. The next stage is learning how and when to shift gears effectively.

Poor shot selection and out-of-control play were Wesley’s overarching theme. While having access to your sites on demand is a rare talent, it is less valuable when low percentage attempts force better opportunities. Head coach Mitch Johnson talked about how slow things have been as part of the development process.

“You work on it, you show them a movie, you go through the readings, you walk and talk about things,” Johnson said. “The game slows down for experienced players. You see patterns, and when you see patterns over time, you recognize patterns in advance. And when you get really good, you can fiddle with those things.”

Although Wesley took on several head-scratchers early in the shot clock, he’s also put together some great sequences as a self-proclaimed builder, including three multiple recoil pulls. The Notre Dame graduate must be excited for every Spurs fan of what awaits him as someone who could cause immediate indignity.

The rookie finished this match unaided, although it would be lazy to point out that this is indicative of selfishness. Wesley whipped up a few great curled passes and skipped passes, but they weren’t satisfied in the end as his teammates missed wide-open looks. He can make better decisions, but there is legitimate potential in the play industry.

The three-point shooting was one of Wesley’s most surprising developments, with the six-and-five seesaw being 7 of 11 (63.6%) from outside the arc across two Summer League games. There is some lost movement on his jump jacket, particularly while hunting, but working with assistant coach Chip England can hone some of his bad habits.

Darius Days (17 points, 12 rebounds, 2 steals, 5 out of 10)

Darius Days has been consistent for the second game in a row, and may have scored Tottenham’s best performance against Golden State. There’s something refreshing about a player working entirely within their role in the Summer League setup. The 22-year-old striker never tried to steal the show, but he did stand out from the crowd.

The days looked like a professional consumer. He ran the floor in transition, moved into corners, put up strong screens, made timely cuts, hit the free-throw line, and capitalized on the subsequent mismatch. Good teams can always find a place for low-powered, low-powered people, and Darius understands what he can bring to any organization.

“My energy is on the glass, I talk defense, I just hold others accountable,” said Days. “Breaking gatherings, being a locker room guy, that’s what I really do, and I can kick the ball a little bit.”

Defensively, there are justified concerns about his foot speed and lateral movement. Regardless, its chassis and engine can cover some of its flaws. Days has active hands, fights for every bounce, rarely misses core courses, and he’s already showing the franchises why they should’ve recruited him last month.

Josh Primo (10 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 out of 15)

Sunday was the worst shooting night we’ve had from Josh Primo since he entered the NBA. The coaching staff once again used the Canadian combo guard as secondary ball coach for most of the competition, but he did plenty of dribbling to nowhere in individual situations. Generating separation was a problem throughout the match.

Primo forced plenty of pull-ups, side steps, and steps back when he failed to create space, and Mac McClung and Quindari Witherspoon confused the 19-year-old. The 2021 lottery pick didn’t let his cold spell shake his self-confidence, and coach Mitch Johnson was delighted with his relentless aggression.

“The shots didn’t fall off, he had some tough spots, but he kept staying in them,” Johnson said. “I’d be even crazier if he was 2 for 5, as crazy as he sounds. I’m glad he took 15 shots.”

Unfortunately, although the Primo has some excellent deliveries from driving and kicking to the ocean, it has also made silly mistakes. Year two Spur only made three turnovers, but that number should have been much higher with the number of times he’s left his feet without a plan. Primo has been saved many times, but you want to see better handling from him.

There wasn’t much of a difference in his defensive capabilities, which is great news for everyone following his summer league progression. Primo slid his feet with the backcourt players to cut off their engines, and he was one of the best defenders on the floor for San Antonio. It should be a net positive at this end if it makes a consistent effort.

Branham’s Angel (6 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 of 6)

The Ohio State producer found no opening to make his mark on this mile, and only took six shots in about 27 minutes. Malaki Branham is the scorer first and foremost, but he seemed unsure of himself, missing a few open glances and reluctance to attack the useful windows.

Branham was an instant bucket of pick-and-roll a season before, and force-feeding his reps might encourage him to be more aggressive and assertive. Head coach Mitch Johnson says a rookie is figuring out how to pick their spots on a talented team full of capable ball coaches.

“I think part of it probably is that Branham is a selfless kid who’s just trying to play the right way,” Johnson said. “There are many times I yell at him to be shot. So he will come.”

His defense on and off the ball is weak, so his attack must outweigh his flaws if he is to make a difference on the field. Of course, there will be plenty of time for the 19-year-old to learn how to increase his wingspan and tire length as the Spurs begin a full throttle rebuild.

Dominic Barlow (4 points, 5 rebounds, 2 blocks, 4 turns, on 1 of 2)

The points square can only tell so much of the story, and Dominic Barlow has been solid despite what his numbers may indicate. The 19-year-old two-way knot owner went toe-to-toe with James Wiseman in the basket to acquire several possessions, and he took the opportunity.

“It was the second choice,” Barlow said. “They are guys like that that you want to compete against. You want to prove yourself. You want to show that you can contain them and give them trouble too.”

Barlow may have been mistaken as a traditional rim guard on this somewhat smaller roster, but he did show unique mobility when matched against smaller players on the periphery. Although he jumps for every fake pump, physical tools are tempting

The unpolished big guy has a long way to go before he reaches his high end results. However, look into your eyes with enough force, and you can start to identify a potential image in the foreground convertible with the possibility of shooting and sports to serve as a lube target.


check out my Previous article For more coverage of the Tottenham Hotspur Summer League live from Las Vegas.

I’ll be on the sidelines in Sin City for another couple of days, so stay tuned as I track down San Antonio’s best vistas.

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