Spurs rookie adjusting to the NBA style but is ready for the call

Luka Samanic.jpg
SALT LAKE CITY, UT - JULY 2: Luka Samanic #19 of San Antonio Spurs brings the ball up the court against the Memphis Grizzlies on July 2, 2019 at vivint.SmartHome Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images)

With an hour before tip-off, San Antonio Spurs rookie Luka Samanic is working on his jump shot before a Thursday night game against the Northern Arizona Suns in Cedar Park, Texas.

Samanic, who recently turned 20 years-old, has been spending his rookie season with the Austin Spurs and is realizing there is much to adjust to coming from playing overseas.

“I just need to adjust to the style of play, adjust to the physicality, and the pace of the game,” said Samanic to the Spurs Zone. “Just so many games and no time in between.”

Samanic is currently averaging 13.5 points per game on 40% shooting, 31% three-point percentage, 7.3 rebounds, 1.7 assists in 27.2 minutes per game.

Coming into the 2019 Draft, Samanic was an interesting combo forward prospect with clear talent.

A player at 6’10 with impressive skill set, he’s able to stretch the floor while being able to post up and drive down the lane. He impressed scouts at the 2019 Draft Combine, which had him move up draft boards where the Spurs would ultimately select him.

Now in Austin developing his game, Samanic has shown highlights of what he can bring to the floor. Taking deep shots, driving to the basket with impressive footwork, including a classic spin move.

Along with impressive footwork, Samanic has sneaky athleticism which can result in some impressive offensive plays.

A three-tier type scorer, Samanic has the fundamentals of a solid NBA player.

But he is still a raw prospect.

He struggles in the paint against bigger defenders who have a strength advantage against him. Only weighing 227 pounds (compared to Kevin Durant who’s the same height and weighs 240 pounds), Samanic needs to build some muscle to be able to matchup against the bigger and stronger players in the NBA.

In addition, it’s been a challenge for Samanic as he’s struggled with shooting early on, especially in December where he was only shooting 34% from the field and 27% from three-point range.

But he’s beginning to find some rhythm as he’s playing much better with 15 points per game on 41% shooting and 33% from three-point range so far in January.

“It’s a big change for him, moving countries for him,” said Austin Head Coach Blake Ahearn. “He’s getting better each and every day. It’s a small step, and as long as we’re moving forward, that's what we want. We don’t expect him to be perfect.”

On his 20th birthday, Samanic scored 18 points on 41% shooting and filled up the rest of the box score. Seven rebounds, two assists, a steal and two blocks.

Including a monster dunk on fast-break off the steal.

While eager to get some time in the NBA, Samanic understands what his time in Austin is for developing and improving his game.

“Of course I am [excited to get NBA playtime], but I’m focused on the next few games and when they are ready to call me up I’ll be ready,” said Samanic.

Twitter: @TyJager