Spurs Notes: Collins, Wemby, Sochan, Mamukelashvili, Jones

After starting the first 20 games of the season for the Spurs, center Zach Collins came off the bench for the first time this fall in Friday’s loss to Chicago. While many players would view it as a demotion to be removed from the starting lineup, Collins says he understands why head coach Gregg Popovich made the move and suggested he’s on board with it, per Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News (subscription required).

“Having more firepower coming off the bench is always going to help us take some relief off the starters,” Collins said. “Hopefully this spacing-wise will work a little better.”

Popovich said after the game that he “absolutely” intends to stick with this lineup change at least in the short term, so Collins will have to get used to playing with the second unit. After a strong showing on Friday that saw him put up 12 points, 10 rebounds, and five assists in 23 minutes of action, the big man told reporters that it’s just a matter of adjusting mentally to the new role.

“I always said when you come off the bench, you don’t have the luxury of starting the game and getting into it fast, getting your body going, getting your mind into the game,” he said. “So you have to stay locked in even though you’re not in the game.”

Here’s more on the Spurs:

  • Victor Wembanyama had a monster night in his first start at center, becoming the youngest player in NBA history to record at least 20 points and 20 rebounds in a game (he had 21 and 20, respectively), according to Andrew Lopez of ESPN. Unfortunately for the Spurs, it wasn’t enough to prevent their 16th consecutive loss.
  • Jeremy Sochan came off the bench for the first time this season on Wednesday before being reinserted into the starting lineup on Friday. Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News says Sochan’s confidence appeared to be shaken after Wednesday’s contest, with the 20-year-old deferring to the coaching staff when asked if he learned something from his time at point guard and whether he wants to keep playing there. Prior to Friday’s game, Popovich said there “is really no point guard” in San Antonio’s starting five, according to Lopez, who notes that Sochan shared ball-handling responsibilities during that game.
  • Reserve center Sandro Mamukelashvili – who hasn’t played much for San Antonio this season, logging 55 total minutes across seven appearances – took advantage of an assignment to the G League this week, McDonald writes. In his NBAGL season debut with Austin on Friday, Mamukelashvili racked up 34 points, 22 rebounds, four assists, and two blocked shots. Mamukelashvili and Charles Bassey are expected to be sent to the G League more frequently to make sure they’re getting regular minutes, per McDonald.
  • Despite the Spurs’ frequent lineup changes (eight players have started at least one game), Tre Jones has been unable to crack the starting five this season after making 65 starts a year ago. That doesn’t mean the team is down on Jones though, according to McDonald (Twitter link), who says the Spurs “really, really like” the 23-year-old as a second-unit point guard for both the present and the future.
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