SAN ANTONIO – Luka Samanic was a lanky 19 year old in need of muscle and maturity when he arrived in San Antonio in summer 2019 after the Spurs selected him 19th overall in the NBA draft.
Twenty months later, it’s clear he’s made strides in both areas.
“He’s getting stronger, looks stronger,” Austin Spurs coach Matt Nielsen said. “And as his coach, I am not going to ease up on him because I still think he can get even better at finishing. He’s doing a good job, but I am going to keep asking for more.”
Nielsen will have to put pushing Samanic on pause, though, after the Spurs recalled the Croatian and rookie point guard Tre Jones from the G League on Sunday. They join a team that’s been depleted by COVID-19 after four unidentified players tested positive last week while the team was in Charlotte, N.C.
In six games this season at the G League bubble in Florida, Samanic is averaging a team-high 21.8 points, a team-best 11.3 rebounds and 2.2 assists. He’s also averaging 3.5 free throw attempts after attempting 2.1 per outing in 33 G League games last season.
“There’s definitely an improvement there,” Nielsen said. “He’s getting to the free throw line. He’s getting inside to score. I push him to get better and better, so I still think he can be a bit more physical and take the contact and get some better…