Team: San Antonio Spurs
2017-18 Record: 47-35, 7th in the Western Conference
The Spurs continued to go about their business in 2017-18 despite star player Kawhi Leonard only playing a total of nine games for the season. The forward was plagued by injury and unhappiness in San Antonio and was subsequently traded to the Tortonto Raptors in the off-season. The Spurs got a nice package in return for Leonard, headlined by all-star DeMar DeRozan.
The Spurs did lose a few key players in the off-season, however. Along with Leonard, San Antonio parted ways with Danny Green, Kyle Anderson and stalwart point guard Tony Parker. Marco Belinelli should relieve some of the shooting depth left by Green’s departure while Dante Cunningham and Toronto role player Jakob Poeltl both add defence.
All in all, the Spurs still boast a very talented roster. They were able to win 47 games last season without their star player in Kawhi Leonard for the majority of the year, so add DeMar DeRozan to that squad and we see a lot of potential in this roster. Young point guard Dejounte Murray looked ready to take the next step towards the end of last season and should lead an offence filled with talented players.
After all this, we are still yet to mention LaMarcus Aldridge, who easily had his best season in a Spurs jersey last year. The power forward averaged 23.1 points and will create a damaging one-two punch with DeRozan on offence.
Offseason Arrivals: DeMar DeRozan, Jakob Poeltl (Raptors), Marco Belinelli, Dante Cunningham, Quincy Pondexter (free agent), Lonnie Walker IV, Chimezie Mety (draft)
Offseason Departures: Kyle Anderson (Grizzlies), Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard (Raptors), Tony Parker (Hornets), Brandon Paul (waived)
What to Expect?
The Spurs have done a decent job in replacing the host of players they have lost throughout the past few years. Their starting five should still be able to match it with the best in the Western Conference but their game style could change this year. They have been so defensive minded for the past few seasons but with some real offensive weapons in LaMarcus and DeRozan to call upon, expect some bigger scores out of the Spurs this season. They’ll still be incredibly slow, however, and the majority of their points will be scored in the half court through LaMarcus post game and DeRozan mid-range but natural progression of Dejounte Murray should help with the Spurs tempo.
One thing that you can bank on, however, is that coach Gregg Popovic will get the most out of this roster. Unlike the Lakers or any other teams that have had a big roster overhaul in the off-season, the Spurs should come out well drilled and ready to go on opening night.
Many critics have the Spurs dropping this season but we think they should be right in the mix in the Western Conference.
Key Player: DeMar DeRozan
DeRozan has been outstanding throughout the past five years in the NBA, averaging over 20 points per game in each season and playing at least 60 games in all of them. His three-point shot still isn’t at a fantastic NBA level but he gets by on his ability to score in the post and in the mid-range on a nightly basis. The Spurs lose the defensive prowess of Kawhi Leonard but have arguably got back a better offensive player with more weapons in DeRozan.
Gregg Popovic’s system should suit DeRozan more than Toronto’s did, as the Spurs love to slow the ball game and get into their system in the half-court. When they are in good form, you have to double team DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge when they get the ball at the high post, which will create plenty of problems for opposing defences. Expect DeRozan to have another season averaging over 20ppg alongside Aldridge.
Vegas 2018-19 Win Total
43.5 is a bit of a slap in the face to Gregg Popovic in our opinion. While the Spurs only won 47 games last season, it was the first time since the 1998-1999 season that the franchise had dropped under 50 wins. It’s been the Spurs trademark since the start of the Tim Duncan era that they refuse to lose at home and even last season with just 47 wins, San Antonio still went 33-8 at home.
Kawhi played only 9 games last season so we’re not sure why the bookies have them losing 5 more games then they did last season due to losing him, especially after bringing in a proven all-star and genuine MVP candidate of the last few years. We think they finish fourth in the Western Conference and cruise past their 43.5 line.