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2020-21 NBA SEASON PREVIEW: SAN ANTONIO SPURS

@TheWillBaldwin

Predicted finish: 12th in the West (5th in the Southwest, 22nd in the power rankings)

Last seasons conference finish: 11th in the West 

Overview: 

For the first time in twenty plus years, the Spurs come into an NBA season bordering on irrelevant. Most mainstream fans can only name maybe DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge as members of the roster as the rest of the team has become an afterthought. I remember back during the bubble when it was coming down to the final teams for the play-in game, no one cared if it was Phoenix or Memphis or Portland, just as long as it wasn’t the Spurs. Quietly though, the team has acquired an interesting collection of young pieces. Derrick White and Dejounte Murray are better than you think, Jakob Poeltl and Lonnie Walker have shown promise and Keldon Johnson, Luka Samanic and Devin Vassell are all interesting prospects. As good as Murray and White are, for the Spurs to step back into relevancy, it’s going to take one of those guys to really hit. Until then, the team will likely sit quietly outside the playoff picture, unnoticed by most for the first time since David Robinson was still at Navy.  

The big question for the franchise: Who’s actually a part of the core going forward? 

As I said before, this team has quietly put together an interesting young nucleus. From White to Murray to Walker and more, all are good but no one really stands out. My guess is, this is the year this team takes a step back further and is flat out out of the playoff mix. In that scenario, it’ll give the young pieces an opportunity to show if they’re going to be part of the solution going forward. I have my guess on who will or won’t be but knowing Popovich, everyone is going to get a chance this year to show why they will be. If this franchise heads into the 2021 offseason with a clear set of dudes to build around and a new direction, that’ll be progress regardless of where they finish in the standings. 

One move I want to see them make: Trade DeRozan, Aldridge, Gay and Mills 

As I said above, this season should be about figuring out which young players are part of the future Spurs. I assure you none of DeRozan, Aldridge, Gay or Mills will be one of them. If I was a Spurs fan and the team finished with two or more of these guys on the roster after the trade deadline, I’d be disappointed. My guess is Mills would be the easiest to move since his number is so manageable, he’s still really good and his position is of major need across the league. That isn’t to say there isn’t a market for the other three though. You can’t tell me one of them, especially on expiring deals can’t help a contender this year. Please San Antonio, do the right thing and move them for something that could potentially help you when you’re good again. 

Offseason Grade: C

I liked their draft picks but otherwise they did nothing. Their veterans should’ve been moved a while ago, it’s time to reset. Due to them not realizing this, they have fairly earned their C. 

Young player I’m excited for: Devin Vassell 

Vassell was one of those guys when he fell to the Spurs that your first thought when they picked him was “damn how did they get him, he’s going to be a steal.” For a team whose two best young pieces are guards, there’s a ton of playing time on the wing and Vassell should fill that easily. He also fits the profile of a Spur as a two way shooter who will compete night in and out. I wouldn’t say he has the highest ceiling but, his fit here is so good, who knows. 

Final Thoughts: 

After a 20 year run unlike the NBA has really ever seen, the Spurs time for a real rebuild has finally come. They have some pieces already so the potential for it to be quick is there. Until they find their next Robinson, Duncan or Leonard though, they’ll feel lost in the Texas desert regardless of how many good players they have. This league isn’t about good, it’s about special and the Spurs are on the lookout for their next special player.

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