San Antonio Spurs: Goals for Brandon Paul in 2017-18 season

By Rob Wolkenbrod
Brandon Paul during the match between FC Barcelona and Anadolu Efes, corresponding to the week 17 of the Euroleague, on 19 January 2017. (Photo by Urbanandsport/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Brandon Paul during the match between FC Barcelona and Anadolu Efes, corresponding to the week 17 of the Euroleague, on 19 January 2017. (Photo by Urbanandsport/NurPhoto via Getty Images) /
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San Antonio Spurs, SANTA CRUZ – JANUARY 17: Brandon Paul #33 of the Canton Charge reacts while playing against the Austin Spurs during the 2015 NBA D-League Showcase presented by SAMSUNG on January 17, 2015 at Kaiser Permanente Arena in Santa Cruz, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2015 NBAE (Photo by Jack Arent/NBAE via Getty Images)
San Antonio Spurs, SANTA CRUZ – JANUARY 17: Brandon Paul #33 of the Canton Charge reacts while playing against the Austin Spurs during the 2015 NBA D-League Showcase presented by SAMSUNG on January 17, 2015 at Kaiser Permanente Arena in Santa Cruz, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2015 NBAE (Photo by Jack Arent/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The San Antonio Spurs signed Brandon Paul out of the 2017 Summer League. What goals should he aim for in the 2017-18 season?

A handful of offseason signings were made by the San Antonio Spurs. One of their last ones for the main roster was Brandon Paul, a shooting guard. He was signed straight from the Summer League, where he played for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Paul played four seasons at Illinois, going undrafted in 2013. He spent time in the D-League and the Euroleague, along with multiple attempts at making an NBA roster. However, he’s yet to play a regular season minute, which made this acquisition an interesting one for the Spurs.

San Antonio also dished out a fully guaranteed contract for the 2017-18 season. The second season is unguaranteed until Aug. 1, 2018, according to Basketball-Reference. It’s similar to the deal Bryn Forbes received in 2016.

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This should guarantee Paul a spot on the roster, although the Spurs could send him to the G-League if the situation arises. He’ll sit in the shooting guard rotation, with Danny Green as the potential starter. Manu Ginobili, Kawhi Leonard, Derrick White, Dejounte Murray, and Bryn Forbes are others that can play the two.

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It’s Paul’s first full NBA season, so look for him to make an impression on the coaching staff. There are ways he can do this and goals he can accomplish.

What can Paul do to stand out in his rookie season? Let’s look at three goals he can set.

Next: Play in at least 60 games

3. Play in at least 60 games

As noted, Brandon Paul hasn’t played in an NBA regular-season game, despite being four years out of college and having D-League experience. 2017-18 will be his chance at breaking this, by playing minutes for the San Antonio Spurs.

If Paul opens the season in the rotation, look for him to build on that immediately, as the Spurs’ latest 3-and-D player. Danny Green and Manu Ginobili fill this role at shooting guard, but Paul is the younger option that provides upside.

To give Paul a chance, he’ll need more than just occasional playing time. Like Davis Bertans, who entered the NBA in 2016-17 but as a veteran overseas, look for the Gurnee, IL native to play at least half the season. Playing well should earn him more than that, with the goal to play in at least 60 games. It’s a healthy amount for his first season.

This will potentially be impacted by a “DNP-COACH’S DECISION” or two, to open the season. It’s no guarantee Paul will enter the rotation to start, something that will depend on training camp at the end of September.

If that’s the case, 60 games might be aiming high. However, if Bertans is an example and without Jonathon Simmons, this can happen for Paul.

Next: Shoot 40 percent from 3-point range

CHAMPAIGN, IL – FEBRUARY 7: Brandon Paul
CHAMPAIGN, IL – FEBRUARY 7: Brandon Paul /

2. Shoot 40 percent from 3-point range

Brandon Paul will bring his 3-point shot and defense to the table for the San Antonio Spurs. With all the players that can stretch the floor for the team, he’ll be the latest. In today’s NBA, it can’t hurt to have multiple players, if not a full team that can hit an outside shot.

If Gregg Popovich pins Paul to his specific 3-and-D spot, then expect the latter to throw up his fair share of shots. Maybe not like Bertans’ absurd percentage, but at least half of his shots.

More attempts won’t help raise Paul’s 3-point percentage, but if that’s the focus of his game, look for him to be efficient. He can set a target of 40 percent, a quality number for a rookie season that equals Bertans’ number (he missed on 40 by percentage points).

A development into not just a 3-and-D player but an effective one will set Paul up to benefit in the future. If he shows enough promise, maybe the Spurs increase his role for the 2018-19 season. Green has a player option for July 2018. If he doesn’t return, could Paul receive a sharp uptick minutes and numbers? That depends on his performance in Year 1, which will be wrapped around his 3-pointers.

Next: Make the NBA All-Rookie Second Team

Brandon Paul during the match between FC Barcelona and Anadolu Efes, corresponding to the week 17 of the Euroleague, on 19 January 2017. (Photo by Urbanandsport/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Brandon Paul during the match between FC Barcelona and Anadolu Efes, corresponding to the week 17 of the Euroleague, on 19 January 2017. (Photo by Urbanandsport/NurPhoto via Getty Images) /

1. Make the NBA All-Rookie Second Team for 2017-18

Year 1 opens Brandon Paul’s eligibility for rookie opportunities. From Rookie of the Year to the Rookies vs. Sophomores game, there are plenty of ways for him to receive an accolade.

There’s another end-of-the-year award, though, which goes to five players: the NBA All-Rookie Second Team.

For the First and Second Teams, a total of 10 players get rewarded out of the countless rookies that will play this year. That goes for 2016 first overall pick Ben Simmons, 2017’s top pick Markelle Fultz, Lonzo Ball and others. Those players are likely to make the First Team, if they have successful first years.

Usually, the Second Team is up for grabs. The 2017 team had Yogi Ferrell, Marquese Chriss, Brandon Ingram, Jaylen Brown and Jamal Murray. All were first-round picks except Ferrell, an undrafted free agent. In 2015, Bojan Bogdanovic and Langston Galloway made it, both of whom were second-round picks or didn’t get selected in the draft.

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There will be an uphill battle to pull this off, but if Paul can play in three-quarters of the season and earn steady playing time, he’ll at least have an outside shot at the Second Team. Of course, 10 other rookies might have fantasic seasons and take over all 10 All-Rookie spots, but there are 82 games to get to that.

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