Gregg Popovich prepares to lead for the 27th consecutive season (And last?) to the San Antonio Spurs. The 73-year-old coach just missed the playof
Gregg Popovich prepares to lead for the 27th consecutive season (And last?) to the San Antonio Spurs. The 73-year-old coach just missed the playoffs for the first time since his rookie year in the league before choosing Tim Duncan first in the 1997 NBA Draft. of transition similar to the one currently going through.
The team lost its great star, Dejounte Murray, in a transfer in which they obtained Danilo Gallinari and 4 rounds of the Draft, although later the player from the Atlanta Hawks was cut, showing that the intentions of the Texan franchise is to start a new project in the future, with young players. Additionally, they suffered the loss of Lonnie Walker IV to the Los Angeles Lakers in Free Agency.
However, the team has interesting group of very talented young playersled by Keldon Johnsonwho recently signed a 4-year, $80 million contract extension that will impact after this season that begins on Wednesday, October 19 against the Charlotte Hornets for the Spurs.
Precisely the contractual issue is very controlled by GM Brian Wright, since the South Texas franchise is the one with the least salary expense in the entire NBA with only $91,788,203 guaranteed for next season. So the question is can we expect them to use that space to sign a star to lead a team that is averaging 23 years old? The answer would seem to be no, following Popovich’s conservative philosophy and collective work ethic.
The oldest player on the squad is Gorgui Dieng with 32 years, 13 more than rookies Blake Wesley, Malaki Branham and Jeremy Sochan, the most interesting of the rookie crop chosen by San Antonio. The young power forward of Polish descent was chosen in 9th place in the last Draft.
Everything seems to indicate that Spurs starting lineup it would be with Josh Primo at point guard, Devin Vassell at shooting guard, Doug McDermott at forward, and Keldon Johnson and Jakob Poeltl at insides. Featured substitutes include Tre Jones, Josh Richardson, Romero Langford, Zach Collins, Keita Bates-Diop and Sochan providing attacking versatility. The problem would be the defense in the paint, so Collins, Poeltl and Dieng will have to improve on this aspect.
According to predictions from Bleacher Report, the Spurs will finish with a 16-66 record next season, ranking as the worst team in the entire NBA. Additionally, it would mark the fewest wins in a single season in franchise history, breaking the mark from the 1996-97 campaign when the franchise went 20-62 before drafting Tim Duncan as the number one overall pick. .
In this case, it would be possible for the Spurs to aspire to get the first place in the 2023 Draft to choose a generational talent like Victor Wembanyama and Scott Henderson, which would give the franchise a hopeful future for the next few years in which surely will not have the most important man in its history: Gregg Popovich.
For the next season, he has interesting offensive players like Johnson, Vassell and Josh Richardson from the perimeter, although neither seem to have the skills to be a first figure. In fact, Keldon averaged 17.0 points and shot 39.8% from 3-point range in his 22-year-old season. Too little for a star. However, with Pop’s leadership, anything can happen. In this sense, the development of Vassell seems to be essential for San Antonio to aspire, even if it is not to be last in the Western Conference.
Last season, Dejounte Murray and Poeltl were the most important for the team, which is reflected in the fact that there is no player that has defensive abilities that come close to the brand new Hawks player. When neither Murray nor the Austrian played, the point differential in those was -7.6 last season.
The near future does not seem hopeful at all for the franchise founded in 1967, since lhe most important players on the roster seem to be too young to lead an organization that holds 5 NBA titles. However, the future in the medium and long term does seem to be hopeful in case they can get the first or second place in the next Draft of 2023.