Under head coach Gregg Popovich, the San Antonio Spurs have remained relevant for what seems like forever. Headlined by the likes of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili, the Spurs have set the standard for years. Sadly, nothing lasts forever. The San Antonio Spurs have changed, maybe more than any playoff team in NBA history. A new era is beginning in San Antonio, an era we all saw coming, just not this soon.
Countdown to NBA Tip-Off: San Antonio Spurs Season Preview
What Worked Last Season
With Popovich at the helm, the Spurs will always play a similar brand of Basketball. The faces may change, but the philosophy stays the same. Last season saw the Spurs play the majority of the year without star Kawhi Leonard. This would cripple most teams, but not the Spurs. Popovich’s team went on to win 47 games, a total most coaches can only dream of.
Excellent team defense played a key role, as the Spurs ranked No. 1 in the NBA in opposition points per game. Ranking top-five in every blocking stat, they made things difficult for their opposition at both ends. The Spurs also took care of the ball, fourth in the league in turnovers per game. Playing good defense and taking care of the ball are two keys to winning Basketball.
What Needs Improvement
The Spurs need to score more, ranking 27th in points per game last season. The answer to this problem is DeMar DeRozan. Newly acquired from the Toronto Raptors, DeRozan will likely become the teams highest scorer, with the former Raptor averaging 23 points per game last season. Popovich’s team also struggled to score on the fastbreak. This is something that should change, with some of the teams younger player’s seeing more minutes. Ranking 28th in three-point percentage, the Spurs also struggled to shoot the ball well.
The Spurs leading assist man last season was Tony Parker. With Parker gone, this Spurs team needs to find a new court general. Patty Mills appears to be the man, with Dejounte Murray also an option. Every good team needs a quality point guard, which is why losing Parker is such a big deal.
After an off-season full of changes, San Antonio enters the new season hoping to make the playoffs once again. Parker headed east, joining the Charlotte Hornets. Ginobili retired, as Spurs fans lost two franchise greats in just a couple of months. The team also lost forward Kyle Anderson, and big man Joffrey Lauvergne. However, the teams biggest loss was All-Star Kawhi Leonard. Forcing his way out of San Antonio, Leonard was sent north, with the Raptors sending DeRozan the other way. As a part of the deal, the Spurs also acquired big man Jakob Poeltl along with a first-round pick. San Antonio sent shooting guard Danny Green to Toronto as a part of the deal.
In better news, San Antonio did keep some talent in-house. Re-signing Rudy Gay, Dāvis Bertāns and Bryn Forbes, the team brought back three key players from last seasons 47-win team. Free agency also saw the Spurs strengthen, adding Marco Belinelli, Dante Cunningham, and Quincy Pondexter.
2018-19 Season Prediction
Despite having their doubters, this Spurs team will make the playoffs. Losing Leonard is a big deal, but if they can win 47 games without him, imagine what they can do with DeRozan on the court. Not to mention the clear X-factor in all of this; Gregg Popovich. If anyone is going to carry a team through this much change, it’s Popovich. As usual, the goal in San Antonio should be to win 50 games, which despite the doubters is a real possibility. Expect DeRozan to play a key role, with the likes of rookie Lonnie Walker and third-year guard Murray making a big impact this season. This team has the talent to silence it’s critics, with a top-four seed in their sights.
BERLIN, GERMANY – OCTOBER 08: Head Coach Gregg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs gestures during the NBA Global Games Tour 2014 match between Alba Berlin and San Antonio Spurs at O2 World on October 8, 2014 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Boris Streubel/Bongarts/Getty Images)