What are the three best parts of the San Antonio Spurs’ roster for the 2017-18 season?
The offseason is complete for the San Antonio Spurs, as it will wait until training camp starts before making the jump toward the 2017-18 NBA season. A date didn’t get announced for training camp, but it should happen by the end of September.
Through the offseason, the Spurs’ roster changed. A few players departed, while others were signed or drafted onto the team. There are some weaknesses to this new roster, but it also hosts some strengths, ones that San Antonio will be able to rely on in the season.
What are the Spurs’ five best strengths for the current roster? Let’s take a look.
While the Spurs stayed quiet in the offseason, they lost three bench players: Dewayne Dedmon, David Lee, and Jonathon Simmons. Each provided their own value to the squad, but otherwise, the team that made the Western Conference Finals is in tact.
The starting lineup won’t have Tony Parker, but it already got used to Patty Mills. He played well even before Parker went down in the playoffs, so having the eight-year pro as the lead point guard won’t be anything new.
Outside of him, Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, LaMarcus Aldridge and Pau Gasol should all return to spots in the starting lineup. This will provide consistency, with an eye at replicating the 61 wins the Spurs put up last season. A similar lineup, without Gasol, had 67 wins in 2015-16.
On the bench, Manu Ginobili, Kyle Anderson, Davis Bertans and Dejounte Murray all remain. They should be some of the top substitutes for the starters, with new addition Rudy Gay leading them as the sixth man.
2017-18 will be a similar look for the Spurs, who look to avenge a series sweep against the Golden State Warriors. While that team hit a roadblock, this healthy squad will look to make noise, with similar parts.
Next: Perimeter defense
2. Perimeter defense
The San Antonio Spurs’ perimeter defense has been terrific for a while, at least in this incarnation of the team. It can be directed toward two players, too: Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green.
Green became one of the best perimeter defenders over the past few years, which culminated after the 2016-17 NBA season. He won a spot on the All-NBA Defensive Second Team, getting rewarded for his defensive efforts.
Green isn’t known for his offense, aside from 3-point shooting, but his value on the opposite end of the court warrants a spot in the starting lineup, which he’s received over the past five years. This should continue for the 2017-18 season.
Leonard takes this one step further. He’s arguably the NBA’s best defender, using his 7-foot wingspan to overwhelm players on the perimeter. For him, this goes for inside the arc, too, since his height (6-foot-7) lets him guard some of the taller players on the court.
Klaw is already a two-time Defensive Player of the Year, which he didn’t win in 2017, for the first time since the 2013-14 season. However, he made another All-NBA Defensive First Team, his third consecutive honor.
He’ll continue to be a force on the defensive end, racking up steals and chipping in the occasional block. It’s a nice stat sheet-stuffer for not only your fantasy team, but for the Spurs on a nightly basis.
The wild card is Brandon Paul, who the Spurs signed to a fully guaranteed deal for next season. He has a 6-foot-10 wingspan at 6-foot-4 and will look to use this to overwhelm players on the perimeter. How well it translates remains to be seen, however, as Paul hasn’t played a regular season NBA game.
Next: Perimeter shooting
1. Perimeter shooting
Defense is a strength, but shooting tops them all. It’s something the Spurs might be the best at in all of basketball.
The Spurs led the NBA in 3-point shooting percentage in the 2016-17 season at 39 percent, seven percentage points higher than the next-best team. They had the sixth-best shooting percentage at 46.9 percent, too.
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The perimeter shooting doesn’t start with any particular player, because multiple were terrific from behind the arc. Patty Mills, the projected point guard for this season, shot 41.4 percent from 3-point range, with 4.4 of his 7.8 shot attempts from this area of the court. He’ll get the chance to improve this as a starter.
Davis Bertans provided an effective stroke in his rookie season. He just missed shooting 40 percent from behind the arc, but with more minutes as a stretch four, it could increase. Manu Ginobili put up similar numbers from the bench, as well.
In the starting lineup, Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green shot 38 and 37 percent from long distance, respectively. These were the best numbers from starters that attempted at least three 3-pointers in a game. It should be status quo for Leonard and Green for this upcoming season.
Even Pau Gasol continued to show his 3-point stroke. He shot 53 percent, even though he attempted just 1.6 per game.
There’s plenty to like with this Spurs team for perimeter shooting. Everyone that produced in the 2016-17 season will be back for more, so let’s see if the 39 percent mark can be improved on.