Malaki Branham swears the nerves were nonexistent.
Even as he sat on the bench for the entire first half of his first NBA preseason game Sunday in Houston, the Spurs rookie appeared the epitome of calm.
“I was just ready to hoop,” Branham said.
Finally dispatched into the game during the third quarter of the Spurs’ otherwise humbling 134-96 loss to the Rockets, Branham wasted little time doing just that.
He scored eight points in the quarter and finished with 10, making the most noticeable mark among the Spurs’ three-man draft class making its debut at the Toyota Center.
“It felt good just to get out there and start playing again, not just playing against my teammates,” said Branham, a guard selected 20th overall out of Ohio State. “We’ve been doing that for a couple of weeks now. This felt good.”
Unlike the Rockets, who got 21 points apiece from 2022 first-round picks Jabari Smith and Tari Eason, it took the Spurs’ rookies a while to ease into the game.
Blake Wesley, the 25th overall selection from Notre Dame, was the first Spurs rookie to see action.
He checked in at point guard with 5:59 remaining in the first quarter. Six seconds later, he was whistled for his first NBA foul.
On the ensuing Spurs possession, Wesley attempted his first NBA field goal — a corner 3-pointer that missed everything.
Wesley eventually settled down, finishing with seven points and four…