San Antonio Spurs camp roster battles: Small forward
Feb 08, 2012; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers forward Andre Iguodala (9) is defended by San Antonio Spurs guard Kawhi Leonard (2) during the third quarter at the Wells Fargo Center. The Spurs defeated the Sixers 100-90. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-US PRESSWIRE
Small forwards weren’t as proficient as point guards and centers, considering an untested rookie was tasked with a big role this is not surprising, but they were the most productive shooters. The group posted a .556 effective field goal percentage.
(Note: Richard Jefferson has to be accounted for as will the sporadic usage of James Anderson. Both fell out of favor before Kawhi Leonard solidified the rotation.)
Leonard enters training camp as the starting small forward. Stephen Jackson will log time behind him and potentially at power forward in smaller lineups. The back end of the rotation, though, may not even make the Spurs roster.
Kawhi LeonardIf there is a player to peg for a dramatic improvement this season, it might be Leonard. San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich has already hinted that he would be more of a focal point of the offense, which includes more responsibility in the pick-and-roll. Popovich also expects Leonard to develop as a defender and has already likened him to Bruce Brown. Leonard is not at that point yet, of course, but his length and athleticism have yet to be fully utilized against his opposition. The Spurs allowed 2.6 points per 100 possessions less with Leonard on the bench, according to NBA.com/Stats, which might change for the better this season.
Stephen JacksonEven if Jackson didn’t provide the team with street cred, a facet the Spurs are supposedly working to improve according to Tim Duncan, he would be a valuable backup. Without Jackson, who can slide to power forward and be competent defensively, the Spurs would not be nearly as flexible.
Derrick BrownBrown can’t shoot — he’s attempted 147 shots from outside 16 feet in three years — but his shot selection is strong enough to warrant a roster spot. He’s a career 51.5% shooter which does offset the lack of floor spacing he provides.
Wesley WitherspoonWitherspoon likely won’t make the roster but at 6-foot-9 and a decent amount of athleticism, he could earn more training camp invites in the near future.