Comparing the San Antonio Spurs’ offseason to the Golden State Warriors, who led the Western Conference for the past three seasons.
In the 2017 Western Conference Finals, the San Antonio Spurs looked to take down the Golden State Warriors and make their first NBA Finals since 2014. With an MVP-caliber player, Kawhi Leonard, leading the way, it looked like the Spurs stood a chance.
However, in Game 1 of the series, Leonard went down with an ankle injury. It was severe enough for him to miss the rest of the postseason, which contributed to the Warriors’ sweep of the Spurs, 4-0, to reach the NBA Finals. Tony Parker also missed the series, due to a torn quad.
While San Antonio regrouped, Golden State went on to beat the Cleveland Cavaliers in five games to become the 2017 NBA champions.
Since then, the Warriors have taken to the offseason to improve and make the next NBA Finals, while the Spurs made changes to try to get by the two-of-the-last-three NBA champions. It’s in case a series like the 2017 Western Conference Finals arrives again, which the Black and Silver will also need to stay healthy in a future instance.
Both teams have done their fair share of work in the 2017 offseason, as they get closer to the next NBA season. Through the draft and free agency, for the Spurs and Warriors, who proved to be more successful than the other? Did San Antonio improve their chances of making the 2018 NBA Finals?
At No. 29 overall, the San Antonio Spurs selected Derrick White from Colorado. He played point guard in college and arguably, given the team’s questions at the position, this became the pick.
Jaron Blossomgame was the other pick, as he went No. 59 overall in Round 2. He’ll be a player the Spurs can stash in the G-League and play occasional minutes on the NBA roster.
Neither White or Blossomgame are flashy players but can provide bench depth in San Antonio behind the starters at point guard and small forward, respectively. That may not fully develop in Year 1, but in Year 2, when they have more experience, these selections could further pay off for the organization.
The Golden State Warriors selected Jordan Bell at No. 38, which came via trade with the Chicago Bulls. Bell should provide depth up front for the team and should get ample opportunity to develop behind one of the NBA’s most talented rosters, whether that’s on the bench or in the G-League.
Given how these picks came within range of each other, it’s difficult to choose a winner between the two sides. It makes this a wash, with all of these players potentially seeing limited time on their respective NBA teams for the 2017-18 season.
Next: Free Agency
Free agency is where the line will be drawn between the San Antonio Spurs and Golden State Warriors, as it’s where veteran players are added as potential contributors for the upcoming season.
The Spurs added Rudy Gay, someone who opted out of an eight-figure deal with the Sacramento Kings, to sign a two-year, $17.2 million deal. For a player that’s averaged 17 or more points per game for most of his career, this looks like a bargain. The Achilles rupture-risk is with Gay, however, as he hurt it in January. Players don’t always rebound well from these, so it’s no guarantee the Spurs get the old version of this 11-year pro.
Along with Gay, the Spurs signed center Joffrey Lauvergne to replace Dewayne Dedmon and Brandon Paul as a possible substitute for Jonathon Simmons. Dedmon and Simmons were defensive stoppers for the team off the bench, while Lauvergne and Paul are still unknowns in the NBA.
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Matt Costello was also signed to a two-way deal. He flashed rebounding upside in the G-League and could play his way into a backup role.
As for the Warriors, they re-signed Stephen Curry to one of the richest deals in NBA history and gave Kevin Durant a new deal. Both weren’t expected to leave, anyway, but their commitments to Golden State were reaffirmed.
Omri Casspi and Nick Young were the only additions from free agency, both of whom can take bench roles. Young is the most intriguing of the two, however, given his streaky shooting that can either load up the stat sheet or miss every shot taken.
Swaggy P may be the Warriors’ replacement for Ian Clark who’s still a free agent. While Clark played a significant bench role, his production is replaceable and Young’s should be similar, if not better.
The Spurs added to their depth with Gay, but there are questions with Lauvergne and Paul. Should there be any, however, with the team’s history of finding diamonds in the rough?
At the same time, it’s hard to say the Warriors were usurped by the Spurs in the free agency. They remain the favorites for the 2018 NBA Finals while San Antonio and others challenge for the Western Conference crown.
Of course, things may change if the Spurs manage to get Kyrie Irving. That’s a longshot, though, so there’s still work that needs to be done.