Why did he give up the highly anticipated 19th pick after two years of raising? On the Spurs release Luka Samanic

Text/A Jun

ESPN reported that the Spurs announced this morning the release of Luka Samanic, who was selected with the 19th overall pick in the first round of 2019. The 21-year-old Samanic has only played 36 games in the NBA in three years, averaging 3.8 points and 2.2 rebounds per game.

In fact, when I received this news, the author was quite surprised. After all, Samanic was a rookie in the first round, and the rookie’s four-year contract has not yet finished. Logically speaking, it should be an important cornerstone of the Spurs’ youth. Cut? After thinking about it, I think there are probably several reasons.

Personal limitations

Samanic, the 19th overall pick, was considered to be a man who has the potential to be inside and outside in the first draft. He has a good basketball player and sense of space on the court. Although it is a bit surprising that the Spurs picked him so early, it is not difficult to understand the background. If he can develop his ball-holding skills and perimeter, combined with his mobility and passing, he might be able to become an all-around small ball penalty zone in line with modern trends.

However, in fact, Samanic’s growth has not been as expected.

But don’t get me wrong! Samanic is not without progress. Judging from the performance of the development league, he has gradually mastered the rhythm of the game, and he has also gradually grasped the opportunity to replenish the defense. At the end of the last season, he has several outstanding single defense performances. .

“I think his biggest improvement is to become more confident.”

On offense, with a small increase in experience points, Samanic does have more confidence in playing, and more proactively asking for the ball when offensive in the low post, even head coach Gregg Popovich has given affirmation.


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However, this kind of progress is not enough to keep up with the Spurs’ rebuilding process. Especially after the official game, it was discovered that although Samanic has the ability to switch defenses against pick-and-rolls of modern men, but the strength of the bottom plate is weak, which makes him face a decline. The players in the penalty area have no resistance at all.

The offensive coordination that was originally optimistic is not as good as expected. Although the skills of changing hands from behind can be shown on the dribble, after two years, they still have not developed a set of ball holding skills that can cut through. This greatly limits the development of Samanic. In addition, it is difficult to maintain a stable release feel in the face of collisions. Various factors limit the characteristics of Samanic’s ability to cope with the pass. After all, when you do not have enough offensive threats, you It is difficult to pull the opponent’s defense line and create opportunities for teammates.

Vagueness in team positioning

Samanic has spent most of the past few years in the Spurs’ Development League, averaging 16.3 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 1.8 assists per game. He is the main starting player in the lineup. This can also be seen in the importance the team attaches to him.

But in the past few years, when he got on the team, he did not get a good positioning and play. As mentioned earlier, he was originally selected for Samanic because he expected his flexibility to become the team’s No. 5 when playing small balls. If he trains his perimeter, he can also play the role of extending the opponent’s defense line on the fourth in a positional battle, but it is a pity that these two calculations have failed.

Samanic has a weaker bottom plate, which puts him at a certain disadvantage in penalty area defense, and his short arm span also affects his ability to protect the frame. Most of his offensive mode in the Development League is low post singles, but this is not the offense that the Spurs are accustomed to, and will not give him too much ball power for him to play, which causes him to be embarrassed on the court and unable to defend. It does protect the basket, and the offense is easy to slow down the rhythm of the offense.

And the most important thing, even the key to affecting Samanic, is the projection that has been slow to develop. Whether in the development league or in the main editor, Samanic’s three-point shooting percentage is only 30.5% and 29.4%, which makes it difficult for him to serve as an ambush outside role.

But the Spurs didn’t give him the opportunity to try to put Samanic in the off-the-ball catcher role, but unfortunately his low certainty made him unable to respond to the Spurs’ expectations.

That being said, the Spurs did give Samanic very few opportunities, and the tasks assigned to him were not in the range of his expertise. This made him very timid when he boarded the official game, but he was very afraid of making mistakes. It’s easy to make mistakes. Popovich’s scheduling is originally quite rigorous. If you can’t show value immediately, then waiting for you, maybe only bench time…

Not positive in personal attitude

The value just mentioned may not only be the contribution of combat power, but also the display of attitude, which may also be one of the main reasons why Samanic was cut by the Spurs.

“If he didn’t walk home (be punished) because of this Play, I would be very surprised.”

Yesterday, in the game against the Magic, there was a pass error. Samanic went to chase the fast-breaker, but later found that the opponent’s speed started to pull up, and he might not be able to keep up. Dunk his own basket. This shot directly caused discussions in American basketball forums. The Spurs correspondent Don Harris expressed his opinion on the community after Samanic was fired today. He said that other reporters were present at the time. He shook his head at Samanic’s passive defensive attitude, thinking that Popovich, who has always wanted young players to fight, would definitely be quite dissatisfied with this ball.

Perhaps this ball is just the tip of the iceberg that Popovich is dissatisfied with, but we can see the clue from another player who is in a similar situation with Samanic, or even more disadvantaged, and that is Drew Eubanks.

“You won’t pass the ball to Eubanks because he has no three-point ability, so what can he do?”
“Then he had better set up a single block, had better run around the court, had better defend, otherwise he wouldn’t have to want to play.”

White people, average physical ability, awkward height, and no outside lines. Such initial conditions made it difficult for Eubanks to associate with the NBA. However, the Spurs fell in love with him. Starting from the development league, Eubanks showed He has excellent golf quotient and tactical understanding ability, and he is positioned as a hard-working player who is good at defensive and shift-and-roll. As long as he is on the field, he will do his best. Even if his pace is slow, he still tries his best to grab every opportunity.

“He tried to make himself more involved in the game.”
“I told him to play his own style and go all out on the court. This is your style of play.”
“His drive and bloodliness deserves to be a role model for other players.”

Relying on such hard work and persistence in small details, Eubanks, who was a failed draft pick, has slowly increased his playing time in the Spurs’ three years, and even squeezed out Chimezie Metu, who was 49th overall in 2018, as the Spurs’ penalty zone rotation. Although his upper limit is probably there, such an attitude is really important for the Spurs who are shaping the young culture at this stage. Perhaps this is what Samanic lacks.


The whole reason led to the Spurs’ decision to abandon Samanic. After the Spurs announced their release, Luka Samanic became the third player to be released in the first round of the 2019 draft after Mfiondu Kabengele and Sekou Doumbouya.

Although I can’t help feeling that it’s a pity to throw away the 19th pick in the first round for a few years (I think maybe I can pack a bag for the trade), after all, he is only 21 years old and still very young, and as long as he is given the correct positioning and opportunity, maybe He still has room for growth.

However, it is true that Samanic, whose playing style is awkward and whose physical fitness is popular, may be difficult to change to a good package in the trading market. In addition, in order to vacate the official list of candidates, he can only choose to part ways with Samanic who does not match his cognition. I think that if Samanic is in the near future Without signing with other teams, it is very likely that he will return to Europe to play. No matter what the result is, I still wish him a smooth basketball journey.


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