The unheralded Brandon Paul looks like a keeper for the San Antonio Spurs.
The San Antonio Spurs may be on a three-game losing streak, but the sky isn’t falling. Only seven games have been played, with five-and-a-half months remaining until the playoffs. So, the panic level button can’t be pushed, unless a middling record persists around Christmas time.
Amidst this skid, finding the silver lining can be difficult. LaMarcus Aldridge has played well, yes, with his 20 points and 8 rebounds in six of seven games. But beyond him, there’s a player making some noise in extended playing time: Brandon Paul.
The Spurs pulled Paul from the Cleveland Cavaliers Summer League squad in July, surprisingly giving him a fully guaranteed contract for two years. He’s four years out of college and never stuck with any organization. Instead, finding time in the D-League and EuroLeague. No one gave him NBA regular season minutes, either.
“BP3” rarely saw the court in the first three games, receiving seven minutes against the Toronto Raptors. After that, his playing time spiked to 19 minutes against the Miami Heat and has increased ever since.
“3-and-D” is the nature of Paul’s game. He’s knocked down at least two 3-pointers in three of the past four contests, all while never shooting below .500 in any of them. On the opposite end, he plays aggressive defense and picks up the occasional turnover, something head coach Gregg Popovich already loves.
— JeffGSpursZone (@JeffGSpursZone) October 30, 2017
This praise led to the 26-year-old receiving a season-high 30 minutes per game against the Boston Celtics. Some of it came in garbage time, but it was just short of the team-high.
What Paul did lead the Spurs in, was points. He put up 18, including a four-point play and three makes from behind the arc.
— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) October 31, 2017
There’s a role being carved out for this undrafted player, who may have saved his rotation spot, when Kawhi Leonard returns. Paul probably won’t get 20-30 minutes every night, but he’s earned the fifth guard spot in the rotation, behind Dejounte Murray, Danny Green, Patty Mills and Manu Ginobili. It’s bad news for Bryn Forbes, who seems like the eventual odd man out.
It’s a rough early skid for the Spurs, but there’s a silver lining. Paul looks like he will be a consistent bench contributor, and someone only finding his stride in his first dose of NBA regular-season action. Look out for his role, when the team gets healthy this fall.