Season Goal: Shoot all the Mid Range Jumpers
In the aftermath of possibly the most confusing season in Spurs’ history, Kawhi Leonard is in Toronto. The disgruntled star finally got traded this offseason and in return, the Spurs acquired former Raptors star DeMar DeRozan. This has prompted many questions for the upcoming season. Such as, how many mid-range jumpers will this team shoot? With potentially the two best mid-range shooters in the game in DeRozan and Aldridge, San Antonio may be the only team still relying on the mid-range shot. With more teams favoring the threes and layups only ideology, the Spurs will be a stark contrast. This isn’t a bad thing, Popovich has made teams much better than they look on paper before. At the end of the day, San Antonio has two All-NBA players on their team and are looking towards their 22nd playoff appearance.
Life after Kawhi
The Spurs were put in a very bad position with almost no leverage for the Kawhi trade, but they managed to get a decent return. A borderline superstar in his prime, a young center, and a first rounder isn’t too bad. With one of the worst offenses at 102.9 PPG (27th out of 30), DeRozan will definitely add a nice scoring punch. One major problem though is after trading two of their best 3 point shooters the Spurs will have almost no spacing. The only 3 players left on the team that shoot above league average on over 2 attempts per game are Patty Mills, David Bertans, and Bryn Forbes.
One of the other issues the Spurs now face is defense. They had the 3rd best defensive rating last year, even without Kawhi. So, what’s the problem? The underrated player in this trade was Danny Green, his ability to stop fast breaks and be an elite perimeter defense drastically improved the Spurs’ defense. Without him, and having DeMar playing heavy minutes, the Spurs’ defense got a lot shakier. The loss of Green leaves Dejounte Murray as the only elite defender. Even though he is very good, he can only guard one player, therefore limiting his effectiveness. Additionally, Gasol is still the starting center. Being another year older and already an immobile center, Gasol won’t be able to anchor a great defense. Despite all these defensive concerns, if anybody can still make them a great defense it’s Popovich.
Salary Cap Situation
~124M of ~101M cap committed
Bad Contracts: Pau Gasol (2yrs, $32M)
*All salary data via sportrac*