Additions: Demar Derozan, Marco Belinelli, Jakob Poeltl, Lonnie Walker IV
Subtractions: Kawhi Leonard, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobli, Danny Green, Kyle Anderson
Projected Starting Lineup:
PG: Patty Mills
SG: Demar Derozan
SF: Rudy Gay
PF: LaMarcus Aldridge
C: Pau Gasol
Key Bench Players: Marco Belinelli, Bryn Forbes, Jakob Poeltl, Quincy Pondexter, Davis Bertans
The Spurs are already down three key guards before the season started in Dejounte Murray (torn ACL), Derrick White (heel injury), and Lonnie Walker (torn meniscus). Pair that with Rudy Gay’s recent heel injury history and its a recipe for disaster in San Antonio that will assuredly hurt their playoff chances. They still have two stars in Demar Derozan and LaMarcus Aldridge, but Gregg Popovich’s scheme has always thrived on the team’s impressive depth. They’re going to have to find a new way to be successful through these injuries.
Derozan and Aldridge will handle the bulk of scoring for the Spurs regardless of who is on the court. Both averaged over 23 points per game last season for their respective squads and will most likely continue to pour in those points this upcoming season. There are no other players on this roster (outside of a perfectly healthy Rudy Gay) who could even touch those numbers. Both thrive in the isolation game from the mid range and the low post, but neither are strong outside shooters, although they are certainly capable if they are in the zone.
Pau Gasol at 38 years old is far out of his prime but can still score from the low post and with a blossoming three point game. His problem is playing enough minutes to be a steady scorer in this lineup, averaging 25.4 and 23.5 minutes per game over the last two seasons. Patty Mills, the only option to start at point guard at this moment, is best suited as a backup change-of-pace, scoring point guard. Standing at only 6’0, Mills is undersized and will have trouble guarding the likes of Curry, Westbrook, and Chris Paul in the Western Conference. Do not be surprised if the Spurs attempt to trade for a point guard to bring Mills back to his spark plug role off the bench.
The loss of Kawhi Leonard obviously hurts the team a lot, as he is a top-five player in the NBA when healthy, but the Spurs ultimately ruined the pair’s relationship due to the mishandling of his injury last season. What may hurt more is the loss of their important depth over the offseason. While declining, Tony Parker could still show flashes of a solid backup point guard and is now a Charlotte Hornet. Manu Ginobli retired and with that, his craftiness and left-handed shooting stroke will be missed. 3-and-D specialist Danny Green was included in the Leonard trade and Swiss Army knife forward Kyle Anderson signed with the Memphis Grizzlies. In their stead is the plodding, non-shooting big man Jakob Poeltl, defensive liability Marco Belinelli, and career journeyman Quincy Pondexter.
I hate to say it, but the Spurs may be looking at a year where they will miss the playoffs for the first time since 1997 before the Tim Duncan era. It all depends on who steps up for this Spurs team in the wake of all the injuries. It is not looking good for San Antonio, and this lost season could force Gregg Popvich into his long-awaited retirement.
Picture Courtesy of Raptors HQ
*For yesterday’s article on the Sacramento Kings, click here
Up next tomorrow: Toronto Raptors
University of South Carolina ’21