Popovich hopes to see improvement in Samanic’s decision-making

Luka Samanic’s 15 points in Wednesday’s 126-94 loss to Utah were a season high for the second-year Spurs forward and a point shy of matching his career high.

“He’s a talented kid,” coach Gregg Popovich said afterward. “He’s got some great physical skills, and he can shoot.”

On ExpressNews.com: Gregg Popovich expresses ‘empathy’ for Spurs team running on empty

While the production was promising, Popovich sees plenty of room for improvement.

“He’s not a decision-maker yet,” the coach said. “He’s a little bit rote. I think he thinks ahead of what he might do.”

Selected 19th overall in the 2019 NBA Draft, the lanky 6-foot-10 Croatian isn’t as passive with his minutes as he was earlier this season, but he doesn’t always make the right decision with the ball yet.

At times Wednesday, he was too aggressive challenging the Utah front line, including two-time defensive player of the year Rudy Gobert. It’s part of the reason he missed 8 of 14 shots from the floor.

There also was an instance in the first half when center Drew Eubanks zipped a pass ahead to Samanic, with the intent of triggering a fast break.

There was no shot-blocker in the paint to thwart Samanic if he could get by Bojan Bogdanovic on the wing. Samanic didn’t even look at the basket, instead passing the ball out to start a half-court set.

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Tom Orsborn

Tom Orsborn

San Antonio Express-News

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Sportswriter for 35 years at San Antonio Express-News, covering everything from preps to the Cowboys to the Spurs. Proud San Antonio College alum.