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3 bold predictions for Malaki Branham, Blake Wesley in their rookie seasons with Spurs

Spurs, Malaki Branham, Blake Wesley, Spurs predictions

Following weeks of rumors, the San Antonio Spurs surprised everyone by keeping all three of their first-round picks in the 2022 NBA Draft. Many people believed the team could package some or all picks to move up from No. 9. However, the Spurs played safe and made all three selections.

All drafted players have already signed their rookie contracts with San Antonio, so they are likely in the plans for the Spurs’ young but maybe bright future.

So, let’s take a look at our three bold predictions for two of the Spurs’ first-round picks, Ohio State’s Malaki Branham and Notre Dame’s Blake Wesley.

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Malaki Branham, Blake Wesley Spurs rookie predictions

3. Malaki Branham breaks the mold and earns a ton of minutes as a rookie

Traditionally, Spurs rookies spend a lot of time in the G League during their first year in the NBA.

All-Star Dejounte Murray played 15 games with the Austin Spurs in his first year, and Lonnie Walker IV and Olympic gold-medalist Keldon Johnson only played 17 games each in the NBA during their rookie years.

The only rookies who did not play in the G League for the Spurs in the last 11 years were Devin Vassell, as the G League had a shorter season due to the pandemic, and a player by the name of Kawhi Leonard.

Since it seems the Spurs are going to a rebuild mode, perhaps the best way to develop Branham is to let him face the best players in the world every night.

2. On the other hand, Blake Wesley will alternate between San Antonio and Austin

Wesley is still very raw compared to Branham. The former Fighting Irish guard did not shoot very well in his lone season with Notre Dame, hitting 40.4% from the field and 30.3% from beyond the arc.

With Branham, Vassell, Johnson, Primo and Tre Jones on the roster, it is unlikely Wesley will have many shooting opportunities. If he gets constantly assigned to the G League, he will have more touches and will be more free to shoot as many shots he needs in order to develop.

It could take some time for Wesley’s shooting abilities to fully develop in the NBA. If it takes a season or two in Austin, it will be worth it.

1. Malaki Branham becomes the first Spur on an All-Rookie team since Kawhi Leonard

Branham can finally be the one who earns this distinction after a long time in a Spurs uniform.

For the past years, the Spurs were either contending or fighting for a playoff spot. By trading away Murray and Derrick White, letting Walker walk in free agency and keeping the younger players, it signals the Spurs’ goal is to develop their players for the future, and not necessarily win many games.

The former Buckeye was projected as early as the 12th pick by Yahoo Sports, meaning some saw him as a lottery talent.

It is not unusual to see rookies struggle early in their careers, and Branham did that in college. For the first 10 games, he averaged 6.3 points, shooting only 38.8% from the field and 33.3% on 3-pointers. For the last 22 games of the season, he skyrocketed and averaged 17.0 points on 50-40-80 efficiency. If this shows something, Branham is capable of adapting and growing in-season and in short periods of time.

Branham will have the minutes and shots no other Spur had in years, so if there is one guy who can put on some stats and make it to an All-Rookie team selection, he is the one. Yes, even over No. 9 pick Jeremy Sochan.