Matt Bonner re-signed with the Spurs in each of the past two free agency periods. Should San Antonio consider bringing him back again?
Bonner’s role has been steadily decreasing since he was a primary starter during the 2008-2009 season. This past year he only played in 30 games, and averaged a career low 6.9 minutes in those appearances.
The Red Rocket has been buried on the depth chart behind more skilled players like Boris Diaw, David West, and Boban Marjanovic. The days of Bonner starting for this San Antonio squad seem like a distant memory at this point.
That group of players off the bench helped to give LaMarcus Aldridge and Tim Duncan some rest this past season, and the improved depth in the front court caused Bonner to lose out on some minutes that instead went to new acquisitions like West and Marjanovic.
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The addition of Aldridge certainly played a role in Bonner’s obsoleteness, although Bonner’s days as a viable starter have long been concluded.
While 7 years ago there was a debate as to whether Bonner deserved to start for this team, the question has devolved into whether he merits meaningful minutes off the bench.
As a stretch 4, Bonner certainly has value. He’s made a name for himself with his great perimeter shooting. His career 3-point field goal percentage of .414 ranks 14th in NBA history.
He played more minutes at center this season, but is probably better suited as a power forward who serves as a catch-and-shoot perimeter threat and provides spacing for teammates.
Like many role players, however, Bonner only has one particular skill he thrives at, and can realistically be expected to provide just that one task. It limits his ability to make an impact if his trait isn’t positively influencing a game for the Spurs.
The good news for Bonner is that his shooting skills haven’t seemed to diminish. If anything, they’ve witnessed a resurgence. He bounced back from a disappointing 2014-2015 season to shoot about 51% on field goals and about 44% on 3-pointers.
In fact, during a season of sparse playing time, the only shooting zone where Bonner had significant reps was the right diagonal 3-pointer, and he shot 8-13 from that area for about 62% shooting. Bonner didn’t attempt double-digit shot totals in any other zone this season.
Considering that Bonner’s main skill seems intact, the Spurs should look to re-sign him. He might not get a lot of playing time, but he’s certainly not a detriment to the team in his current role. At the end of the bench, he can provide the team with an extra shooting option and not feel pressured to do too much besides what comes naturally to him.