Spurs defeat Nuggets, 122-100: What we learned from this preseason game
By Rob Wolkenbrod
The San Antonio Spurs knocked off the Denver Nuggets, 122-100. What were the takeaways from this game?
On Sunday afternoon, the San Antonio Spurs won their second consecutive preseason game. They knocked off the Denver Nuggets, 122-100, to become 2-1 in the preseason, with just two games left before the regular season starts.
With the strong performance, there was plenty to figure out about this Spurs team. Some players stepped up and delivered, while others had questions surround them, even with it just being a preseason game.
So, what did we learn from Spurs vs. Nuggets? Let’s take a look.
LaMarcus Aldridge continues to deliver
It’s only the preseason, but just a few months ago LaMarcus Aldridge received criticism for his 2017 NBA Playoffs performance. He disappeared in the Western Conference Finals, after Kawhi Leonard injured his ankle, and was subjected to offseason trade rumors.
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Through three preseason games, Aldridge looks aggressive and is finding success as the lead man of the offense. Against the Nuggets he had 21 points on 9-for-16 shooting and even chipped in 6 assists.
The other positive? The 3-point shooting. Aldridge hit another shot from long distance, even though he only had two attempts. It shows he’s gaining some confidence, and while it may not mean he takes four or five 3-point shots per game, having it in his back pocket is beneficial. This keeps the defenses guessing, as he can pull up from behind the arc, move in for a midrange jumper or put the ball on the floor and work around the rim.
Of course, the Texas product won’t remain the offensive leader for long. Whenever Kawhi Leonard returns, he’ll obviously retake the top spot on the Spurs. That’s when the real test for Aldridge begins, to see how he performs as the No. 2 guy in Year 3.
Next: Playing time cut for multiple Spurs
Is the end near for multiple Spurs?
The majority of the San Antonio Spurs roster is likely set in stone. Players have guaranteed contracts or have the possibility of being sent to the G-League, in order to receive consistent playing time. However, that may not go for a few players.
London Perrantes and Amida Brimah each received just five minutes of playing time against the Nuggets. It wasn’t a particularly great sign for either player, as they don’t have two-way contracts with the Spurs. This even came with Kawhi Leonard, Patty Mills, Kyle Anderson and Pau Gasol all out.
Does that spell trouble for Perrantes and Brimah? Potentially. With two games left to prove themselves, it’s not much time and could lead to them searching for another organization. If so, the option may be there to join the Austin Spurs, San Antonio’s G-League team. The organization can monitor them there, while the other 29 teams analyze if they should give either player an opportunity.
Darrun Hilliard was the other player to receive under 10 minutes against the Nuggets. However, with the two-way contract, his spot shouldn’t be at risk.
Perrantes and Brimah may be on the roster bubble, when the Spurs need to trim their roster, before the start of the regular season. Do they have a chance at sticking around?
Next: Bryn Forbes's performance
Summer League Forbes returns
The 2017 Summer League was the Bryn Forbes Show. His domination of the short set of games was fun to watch, as his offensive explosions didn’t look like anomalies, but consistent performances that showcased his shooting ability.
Unfortunately, for Forbes, the San Antonio Spurs’ regular-season roster is deeper in talent than the Summer League squad. That means finding consistent playing time, which will not come easy.
For any chance Forbes had at playing time, potentially at the end of the roster, he made his case for more on Sunday. That was with a quick 20 points in just 17 minutes. Four of his field goals were from 3-point range, so his total rose fast and looked similar to the eye-popping numbers he had in July.
How much of an impact did this make? That’s difficult to know, but similar performances in the final two preseason games would go a long way. It’s for consistency, to show Forbes can do this against NBA squads, with some frequency. Sure, he’s not going to score 20 points in 17 minutes every night, but if he can bring scoring energy off the bench, it only makes the Spurs deeper.
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What did you take away from this Spurs vs. Nuggets game?