San Antonio Spurs

San Antonio Spurs: Can the new era carry the weight of past expectations?


NBA San Antonio Spurs Dejounte Murray (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)

NBA San Antonio Spurs Dejounte Murray (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)

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San Antonio Spurs

As the San Antonio Spurs approach a new era in the franchise, we explore whether it can carry the weight of past expectations

There’s no more Tim Duncan, there’s no more Tony Parker. There’s no more Manu Ginobli, no more David Robinson not even anymore Kawhi Leonard left in San Antonio. The list of San Antonio Spurs greats on the active roster is empty at this point.

Null and void, missing any noteworthy names as far as consideration for The Hall is concerned. But yet…they’re still here…somehow?

A lot of credit is due to not only Gregg Popovich but also RC Buford as well. Outside of LaMarcus Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan, the team has no all star level talent, and neither of those guys were that caliber this year anyway.

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LMA is on the downside of his career and his game doesn’t work that well anymore. It’s an ugly, Zach Randolph type vibe you get watching Aldridge these days. But hey, at least he’s good at what he does.

DeRozan just averaged 27 a couple years ago in Toronto. He was given a max deal, thought his shooting was improving, and was almost considered a top 15 player in the league. This year though, in a more team oriented approach that focused on utilizing each players strength, not bending to the will of the trend, DeRozan returned to what I think we could call his true self. It isn’t a negative toward DeMar, he’s elite at what his wheelhouse comprises of, it’s just that it’s a bit outdated.

The Spurs likely rolled out upwards of at least…what maybe…10-15 different starting lineups this season? Consisting of first Dejounte Murray, then a late round rookie in Derrick White, an undersized shooting guard in Bryn Forbes, Jakob Poetl, LMA, and finally DD. They settled on a lineup later in the year, but even then It wasn’t one you’d consider to be much of a threat.

They simply won games by staying in them, playing decent to solid defense, and making intuitive decisions. A lot of that comes down to Pop, especially with a young backcourt and so few good scoring options. They’re just one of those teams that’s annoying. You don’t know why they’re good, how are they even in this game? Reminds me quite a bit of Memphis for years up until this one.

This method of running a team doesn’t sit well with a lot of people. Simply maintaining and being mediocre for a while even though you can’t contend for a title is a bit monotonous to most of us. I mean, why not just tank? I think the answer is multifaceted for this team.

For a team with such a great coach and front office, you don’t have anything to tear down aside from the roster. Great general managers and coaches like to and should be paired with great teams. I think they’re aware of the fact that eventually they will attract enough free agents and draft well enough that they may again be back where they once were. It also comes down to the fans though. I believe when you’re in a bigger or flashier market name, you expect more, and the fans want simply the best.

However for more closely-knit organizations and areas, the fan base tends to be more loyal than others. So in turn, they may not care so much if the Spurs are in the NBA Finals every season, they just enjoy seeing them compete.

So when then? When will it finally be time for this city to host another Finals game, or even a Conference Finals game? That depends on several things. Firstly, there have been circulations of the prospect of Pop retiring. He’s since claimed he’d be back next season, but do we know how long for?

Secondly, you have to assess the roster. Aldridge has two years left on his deal, and when they offered that I believe they knew that trading him wouldn’t return much. A title contending team doesn’t want to pay a limited player $25 million, your only option might be a tanking team who takes him in exchange for picks.

Nevertheless, I think they intend to keep him. I also can say that I’m sure they’re aware DeRozan wouldn’t fetch a huge haul right now either. Again unless they’re giving up maybe Dejounte, Lonnie Walker, and a lot of picks I don’t see it happening….Aside from that and in light of GP coming back, I don’t see them trying to trade either of the two at the moment though I hope to be wrong.

The team had two first round picks in this years draft which they used to secure a European 4/5 with upside in Luka Samanic, but they also nabbed Keldon Johnson at 29 somehow. It’s no secret they’re looking for a legitimate center and to also replace LMA soon, so these moves add up.

Overall, the Spurs drafted for need a bit, as I don’t know anyone who had Luka projected that high at 19 and honestly I hadn’t heard of him. Considering all three of their draft picks have somewhat of an upside to them, especially Johnson, we can live with it.

Next: NBA: Grading every team’s 2019 offseason after the draft and free agency

The re-signing of Rudy Gay signals they intend to compete. As well as bringing in quality veterans such as DeMarre Carroll and Marcus Morris, this seems to be another well rounded competently coached team that will be a tough out in the playoffs. The style of play or level of achievement may not be as fun or high as it was a few years ago in San Antonio, but sometimes there’s just something about keeping at it and I have to admire the consistency.

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