The San Antonio Spurs have been one of the most successful franchises in NBA history. They are the only team with five championships, and their coach Gregg Popovich has led them to seven conference finals appearances in his 14 years as head coach. But this season is different.
The spurs starting lineup tonight is the question of whether or not Gregg Popovich will finish three straight seasons with a losing record.
Is it possible that the unimaginable may happen this year? The Spurs have never finished back-to-back seasons with a losing record since the franchise’s inception. Following a terrible 32-39 season the year before, the team finished 33-39 this season. With a rebuild looming, the Spurs may end up with a losing record for the third year in a row, which would be a nightmare for the club and its 72-year-old coach.
We didn’t expect Popovich to leave the NBA in this manner. Every year, it seems like Popovich is nearing the end of his career. Can Popovich guide these young, inexperienced players back to the Spurs’ level after losing their top scorer from last season and a crucial senior piece?
Dejounte Murray, point guard
Murray enjoyed his finest season of his career last year, averaging 15.7 points, 7.1 rebounds, and 5.4 assists. Last year, the 25-year-old showed significant gains in all three areas. Murray is a strong contender to be the team’s top scorer now that DeRozan is out of the picture. It will be a big order to expect Murray to make the leap from All-Star candidate to All-Star candidate.
With that stated, another ancient great didn’t make an appearance until his fourth and fifth seasons. The first three seasons of Tony Parker were very mediocre. He had a year comparable to Murray’s in his fourth season, and his fifth season was All-Star quality. Nobody will ever be as good as Parker, but will Murray provide the Spurs with a comparable boost?
Derrick White, Shooting Guard
With DeRozan out of the picture, White may have his greatest individual season ever this season. To accomplish so, White just has to remain healthy. White averaged 15.4 points per game in 36 games, a career best. White, like Murray, is in his fifth season in the league, so we anticipate him to take a larger step forward with more responsibility.
White needs to improve his field-goal percentages, as he currently shoots 41.1 percent from the field and 34.6 percent from three-point range. With DeRozan out, the Spurs are losing over 20.0 points each game, thus White will have his opportunity to shine. Assuming he can remain on the floor, White has a good chance of scoring close to 18.0 points per game.
Keldon Johnson, Small Forward
As he enters his third season in the league, Johnson will be a fascinating prospect. Johnson averaged 12.8 points and 6.0 rebounds in his first full season last year. Johnson also got important experience this summer as a member of the United States Olympic team, which won a gold medal.
Moving ahead, Johnson has a lot of traits in common with former NBA star Luol Deng. Deng developed into a dependable defender who also contributed to the team’s excellent attack. Deng averaged 18.8 points, 7.5 rebounds, and shot over 50% from the field in his third season. The club would be delighted if Johnson’s future included that.
Doug McDermott, “Power Forward”
Last season, McDermott came within 1.2 percent of shooting over 40% from three-point range for the fourth consecutive season. McDermott has developed his skills as a spot-up three-point shooter in the league over the past four years. McDermott averaged a career-high 13.6 points per game last season, leading to speculation that the Spurs overpaid for his services.
McDermott, on the other hand, will offer outside shooting to a squad that needs it. Last season, the Spurs were 24th in the NBA in terms of 3-point shooting. Not that McDermott will make a huge difference, but he will make things a little bit better.
Jakob Poeltl (center)
Poeltl is one of the few holdovers from the DeMar DeRozan-Kawhi Leonard trade from a couple years ago. Poeltl averaged 8.6 points, 7.9 rebounds, and 61.6 percent shooting from the field last season. He had the fifth best field goal % among all centers, but he still has a long way to go before being regarded a top center in the league.
Poeltl was rated 22nd in terms of player efficiency. He is just 25 years old, but he has already gained five years of experience. Being youthful isn’t going to cut it in the long run. Poeltl is now similar to Cody Zeller, the former Charlotte Hornets center who is now a backup in Portland.
Bryn Forbes, Tre Jones, Lonnie Walker IV, Joshua Primo, Devin Vassell, Keita Bates-Diop, Joe Wieskamp, Thaddeus Young, Al-Farouq Aminu, Luka Samanic, Zach Collins, Drew Eubanks, Jock Landale, Bryn Forbes, Tre Jones, Lonnie Walker IV, Joshua Primo, Devin Vassell, Keita Bates-Diop, Joe Wieskamp, Tha
During his four years with the Spurs, Forbes was a fairly consistent shooter. Last season, the Spurs signed a one-year contract with the Milwaukee Bucks, where he was one of the team’s best bench shooters. Forbes scored 10.0 points per game and shot 45.2 percent from three-point shooting in 70 games. Now that he has a championship ring, he has returned to the squad that began it all.
Thaddeus Young, who was acquired through a sign-and-trade with DeMar DeRozan, is the Spurs’ most intriguing bench player right now. Because he is in the last year of his deal, Young will be a hot commodity at the trade deadline. Young had a career-high 12.1 points, 4.3 assists, and a career-high 55.9% field goal percentage last season. Young was perhaps the most crucial player on the Bulls’ offense at times.
Apart from these two guys, you find yourself staring at this bench, wondering who these individuals are. Walker, who is just 22 years old, had his first complete season and averaged 11.2 points. At No. 12 overall, Josh Primo was the team’s first-round draft selection. Zach Collins has the ability to be a good player, but he is unable to remain healthy. We’ll be studying about the Spurs while we’re out and about.
Will Gregg Popovich have a losing record for the third season in a row?
Popovich seems to be headed for his third consecutive losing season. Is it enough to convince Popovich to leave? What he’s thinking is still up in the air. Unless something miraculous occurs, the Spurs will not win a title or make the playoffs this season. How much can you really offer to this team at 72 years old? He’s already won five championships, earned the Spurs millions of dollars, and is coming off another Gold Medal summer?
After missing the playoffs the previous two years (not including the play-in game), this summer was the first real taste of victory. During the regular season, the Spurs lost DeRozan and Patty Mills, as well as LaMarcus Aldridge. While the Spurs have several youthful players, they are not superstars capable of competing with the rest of the Western Conference.
Spurs were the last club to qualify for the playoffs. The Spurs were allowed to participate in the play-in game because of their No. 10 seed, but they fell to the Memphis Grizzlies. Let’s take a brief look at the Western Conference. Are the Spurs better than the Jazz, Suns, Nuggets, Clippers, Mavericks, Trail Blazers, Lakers, Grizzlies, or Warriors, who are all in front of them? How about the Pelicans, who have made strides this season?
The Spurs, who are battling the Kings for the No. 12 spot, are at the bottom. If Popovich departs in this manner, it would be very sad, but it is the reality. The Spurs have lost two of their top scorers and are not a strong offensive scoring club. They were at the bottom of the rebounding rankings, but they didn’t introduce any real problems. This year, the Spurs will have to battle and claw for every victory, which is a whole different standard from what we grew up seeing.
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