Starters are the focus of most NBA fans. Which is fair because they are generally the best players on the floor. But on a team like the San Antonio Spurs, where 10+ players are asked to contribute on a nightly basis, the efficacy of the bench is extremely valuable. These players aren’t perfect and oftentimes one-dimensional but in the right context, that one-dimension can be more valuable than a couple of alright dimensions.
With this in mind, here are five non-starters to watch this preseason:
The 10-year veteran center is the most compelling player on the Spurs roster. He hasn’t played well enough to garner the final roster spot but he hasn’t put himself out of the race either. Josh Powell has the early edge but Curry bests him in size and thus, his margin for error is lower. If he can show that he is willing to get in shape — he still isn’t fit for a NBA game given that he will be a liability in transition — and stay in shape, he could make it very difficult on the coaching staff to pass on him.
Though he doesn’t have a ton of size, Powell appears to be the most well-rounded forward that is vying for a roster spot. He has shown the propensity to knock down the mid-range jumper — having converted on 37.5% of his attempts from 16-23 feet in the last four years — in addition to rebounding the ball. Through two games the 6-foot-9 Powell has been a better rebounder than Curry. Dan McCarney of the San Antonio Express-News likens Powell to Antonio McDyess and receiving that type of production would not be too bad for the final roster spot.
Nando De Colo
De Colo’s three assists and three steals are indicators of his ability to create for his teammates and disrupt the passing lanes on defense. We should hold back the Manu Ginobili comparisons for the time being though. Until he develops a reliable outside shot, he will be just De Colo — which seems to be exciting regardless.
Despite an uncharacteristic performance against Montepaschi Siena — Mills missed four of his five attempts in 18 minutes — Mills still has a strong case for the backup point guard role. Gary Neal seems to be the favorite to inherit the role but he doesn’t provide the same shot creating ability. Mills is one of the most adept scorers on the team and that still holds value, especially in conjunction with Ginobili.
If Joseph continues to refine his shot, much like Kawhi Leonard did last season, then the Spurs may have found a well-rounded guard to spare Tony Parker some minutes. Its a bonus that his defense is already superior to his guard counterparts. Following his 10 point, three steal performance against Siena, Joseph’s confidence should be rising. The 21-year-old guard is a dark horse threat for a roster spot.