With the NBA season just a week away and the majority of player movement being done, I’m going to start previewing the teams. Based on my projected order of the standings, we’ll start at the bottom and work towards the top rotating between East and West. Past previews will be linked as well.
Atlanta Hawks | Brooklyn Nets | Charlotte Hornets | Chicago Bulls | Cleveland Cavaliers | Dallas Mavericks | Detroit Pistons | Los Angeles Clippers | Memphis Grizzlies | Miami Heat | Minnesota Timberwolves | New Orleans Pelicans | New York Knicks | Orlando Magic | Phoenix Suns | Portland Trailblazers | Sacramento Kings
The Spurs are entering a new era after trading away Kawhi Leonard, letting Tony Parker leave in free agency, and watching Manu Ginobili retire. All-Star DeMar DeRozan lands in the perfect spot as San Antonio continues to swerve away from the rest of the NBA. With DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge, expect the Spurs to lead the league in mid range attempts per game which doesn't seem to make sense mathematically, but the Spurs have always seemed to be one step ahead. Unfortunately promising young point guard Dejounte Murray is out for the season with a torn acl, but the Spurs will continue to find a way. A veteran roster mixed with no names who always find a way to contribute, expect the Spurs to be in the playoffs for the 22nd straight season. On paper they don't seem to have a very good roster, but until we seem them miss the playoffs I'm not willing to count them out.
Offensive Rating 105.5 (17th)
Defensive Rating 102.4 (4th)
Net Rating 3.1 (7th)
True Shooting Percentage 54.3% (25th)
Assist Percentage 58.3% (18th)
Rebound Percentage 51.0% (6th)
Turnover Percentage 13.5% (6th)
Pace 97.16 (29th)
Marco Belinelli SG (free agency), Dante Cunningham PF (free agency), DeMar DeRozan SG (trade), Chimezie Metu PF (draft), Jakob Poetl PF (trade), Quincy Pondexter SF (free agency), Lonnie Walker IV SG (draft)
Kyle Anderson SF, Manu Ginobili SG, Danny Green SG, Kawhi Leonard SF, Tony Parker PG
The Lost Art of the Mid Range Jumper
While the rest of the NBA is shooting more and more threes, the Spurs are trending the other direction (the Warriors are as well which should say something). Last season the Spurs took the third most mid range jumpers in the league, at 21.3 per game. LaMarcus Aldridge led the NBA taking 7.4 per game, and DeMar DeRozan was 4th taking 6.3 per game. As mentioned above, the math on it doesn't seem to make sense, but the Spurs have always been finding market inefficiencies and they are clearly searching for something here.
The Spurs were able to get by without a great offense last season mostly because of their outstanding defense. Danny Green and Kyle Anderson were exceptional defenders on the wing, and Dejonte Murray was an excellent defensive point guard. Replacements DeMar DeRozan and Marco Belinelli are awful defenders, and Derrick White is a decent defender but not close to Murray's level. Greg Popovich has turned many subpar defensive players into adequate defenders and needs to do it again this year.
Who's the Next Hidden Gem?
Just check random box scores throughout the year and it won't even make sense who puts up points and plays big minutes in Spurs game. Last season there's examples of guys like Bryn Forbes, Brandon Paul, Davis Bertrans, Joffrey Lauverge, and others stepping up on different nights. Expect contributions from all fifteen guys throughout the season, but in the playoffs they can't rely on it. Is the next Danny Green or Jonathon Simmons on the roster? A no name guys who ends up being big time playoff contributor or is it just guys that can get the Spurs through the regular season?
Player to Watch: Derrick White
Drafted with the 29th pick in the first round in 2017, it looks like Derrick White will get the first shot at being the Spurs starting point guard. Albeit a small sample size (17 games) White was the 18th ranked point guard in defensive real plus minus. White hasn't shot the ball well this preseason, just 36.4% from the field, but averaged a solid 20.1 points per game in the G-League last season. Sharing the court with scorers Rudy Gay, DeMar DeRozan, LaMarcus Aldridge, and Pau Gasol White has to be a solid defender and facilitator. Expect White to basically split minutes (and share the court at times) with Patty Mills, but if he falters Bryn Forbes could also be given a shot.
PG: Derrick White
SG: DeMar DeRozan
SF: Rudy Gay
PF: LaMarcus Aldridge
C: Pau Gasol
PG: Patty Mills
SG: Marco Belinelli
SF: Dante Cunningham
PF: Davis Bertrans
C: Jakob Poetl
Westgate Projected Win Total: 43.5
Projected Record: 45-37 (7th in Western Conference)