San Antonio Spurs' Jakob Poeltl found himself in a rare spot during the team's recent game against Orlando - on the court playing meaningful minutes.
Poeltl has been used sparingly this season and logged zero minutes in three of the team’s previous six games. However, against the Magic, he played 14 minutes, scored two points, had a block and five rebounds (four offensive).
His performance was enough for head coach Gregg Popovich to note Poeltl's professionalism and admirable effort after riding the bench.
“I thought Jakob came in – he’s been sitting, [so] to come in and be ready like that is a good indication of his character, but we never doubted that anyway," said Popovich to reporters after the team's loss to Orlando.
Poeltl was part of the off-season deal that sent Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green to the Raptors in exchange for DeMar DeRozan.
After starting three games for San Antonio, Poetlt has largely been relegated to the bench. He is averaging 9.5 minutes in six games played while posting 1.7 points and 3.3 rebounds.
That represents a significant drop from his second season in Toronto when Poeltl averaged a career-high 18 minutes per game and recorded 6.9 points and 4.8 rebounds in 82 games played.
But after some miscues on the court, errors on the defensive end and the fact he is still learning the ins-and-outs of the Spurs' system, Poeltl saw his playing time limited.
“Well, he is in a new system with all new players. It just takes time," said Popovich
In time, Poeltl will understand the Spurs' system, which can be difficult to learn for new players.
Patience will be in order as he immerses himself in his new surroundings while striving to become a solid complimentary player for the Spurs.
Said Magic head coach Steve Clifford, "He’s the kind of guy they (the Spurs) always go and find who ends up being a good player. He actually complements what Pau [Gasol] does, or LaMarcus [Aldridge] does."
Poeltl has the physical tools to improve, as well as patience and the right approach to the situation he finds himself in with the Spurs.
"We expect that from everybody," Popovich said.