San Antonio Spurs predictions: Shooting guard rotation for 2017-18 season
By Rob Wolkenbrod
The San Antonio Spurs’ shooting guard rotation could look like this for the 2017-18 NBA season.
The San Antonio Spurs’ season is just around the corner. It will look to rebound off a Western Conference Finals that saw them get swept by the Golden State Warriors. This led to some, but not many, roster changes, including one at the shooting guard position.
The two spot has been filled by a handful of players over the past few years throughout the depth chart. Some of those names have been around for a handful of years, including the projected starter for the 2017-18 season.
What four players will fill out the shooting guard rotation for this season? Let’s take a look.
Fourth string: Bryn Forbes
Bryn Forbes potentially played his way back on the San Antonio Spurs’ roster for the 2017-18 NBA season. He split time there and in the D-League in 2016-17, playing just 36 games for the former, averaging just 2.6 points per game.
How did Forbes possibly earn a spot? He dominated the 2017 Summer League, posting multiple 30-point games and averaging over 20 points per game. It was a spectacular performance, as he became a must-watch player for the Spurs in July.
If Forbes makes the roster, which he should, it will be near the end of the bench, at least initially. He’ll have to claw for minutes behind Brandon Paul and Manu Ginobili, before coming anywhere close to testing Danny Green for starter’s minutes. This may not happen at all next season.
Forbes can shoot well, as proven by his Summer League antics. His problems rest just about everywhere else, especially on the defensive end. That will make it difficult for him to even go past Paul on the depth chart, unless the Michigan State product scores enough to overshadow his flaws.
He should receive more minutes in the 2017-18 season. How much and how long it takes to get there, will be something to follow.
Next: Brandon Paul
Third string: Brandon Paul
New signing Brandon Paul takes the third-string spot at shooting guard for the San Antonio Spurs. He somewhat surprisingly received a fully guaranteed contract for the 2017-18 season, despite being signed right out of the Summer League.
Paul went undrafted in 2013 and never saw regular season time in the NBA. He has D-League and EuroLeague experience, however, which we covered more here.
Given this early confidence in Paul, it should earn him a rotation spot to start the season. It may be a fringe placement, but look for him to receive some minutes as Jonathon Simmons’ replacement on the wing.
Paul’s game sees him shoot plenty of 3-pointers and play solid perimeter defense. He’ll get up more than his fair share of shots from behind the arc, likely more than Simmons, unless Gregg Popovich grounds his game. A 6-foot-10 wingspan plays in the Illinois product’s favor, too, which allows for the aforementioned defensive ability.
Look for Paul to play around 10-15 minutes per game this season. It won’t seem like a lot, but for an unproven player, it will be plenty to showcase what he can do. Maybe it will increase if there are injuries to the shooting guard position.
Next: Manu Ginobili
Second string: Manu Ginobili
Long gone are the days of Manu Ginobili as a centerpiece for the San Antonio Spurs. That passed about five years ago. However, at age 40 and a desire to continue his basketball career, he’ll still play a key bench role for the 2017-18 season.
Ginobili hasn’t started a game since 2013-14 and just three total since 2011-12, so don’t expect him to slide into a starting role at any point, unless Popovich gets desperate and has too many players resting. That will allow Ginobili to come off the bench and play the 18-23 minutes per game he’s averaged for the past four years.
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Could that number grow smaller? With younger players in the shooting guard pipeline, that may restrict the minutes the Argentinian star receives. Those could even go to Rudy Gay, if the Spurs decide to get creative with his use. At this stage, though, it may be best to limit Ginobili’s role as much as the coaching staff can.
15-18 minutes should be enough to keep Ginobili as the backup to the starter, though. He’ll get situational playing time and spell when needed. Expect a fair amount of “DNP-REST” or “DNP-OLD” on the box score, the latter of which would make for a humorous moment.
Next: Danny Green
Danny Green and Kawhi Leonard’s starting spots are interchangeable but based on how ESPN.com lists the San Antonio Spurs roster, let’s keep the former as a shooting guard.
Green will enter his sixth consecutive full season at shooting guard. This started in the 2012-13 season with 42 percent shooting from 3-point range that had him average 10.5 points.
For the next four seasons, Green grew into a defensive role that saw him get recognized, including with a spot on the All-NBA Defensive Second Team for the 2016-17 season. Despite offensive struggles these past two seasons, the defense kept him in the starting rotation. The minutes average hasn’t topped 30, but at 26, it’s enough for him to make an impact when opening every game.
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Expect Green to play the bulk of the starter’s minutes for the 2017-18 season. Improvement shouldn’t be expected at age 30, but a return to shooting over 40 percent would represent a trend in the right direction. It’s somewhat of a contract year for him, too, with a $10 million player option for the 2018-19 season. A rebound performance would increase his chances at a better contract, obviously, so let’s see how he does as the starter, again.