Kyle Anderson’s improved play received attention, and deservedly so. However, another San Antonio Spurs youngster rose to the occasion.
2017-18 became the Season of the Injury for the San Antonio Spurs. Turn right, and see Kawhi Leonard injured, with a right quad ailment. Turn left, and see Rudy Gay deal with a right heel injury. This complicated the lineup in the fall, which finally eased up in the middle of December.
Amidst this stretch, the Spurs forced multiple players into extended action. Rookie Brandon Paul jumped into the rotation, while Dejounte Murray started the season at point guard. Kyle Anderson was maybe the most impressive of them all, as he improved on most of his career numbers and flashed the least flashiest moves to the basket, and provided a little bit of everything for a team that needed to temporarily replace Leonard.
Due to returning players, Paul, Murray and Anderson saw their respective playing time cut in half or disappear. Bryn Forbes, however, was the only young player this didn’t apply to.
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Forbes started the year at the end of the rotation. He crossed double-digit minutes just three times in the first eight games. Then came the ninth contest of the season, which seemed to give head coach Gregg Popovich confidence in his young shooting guard — he scored 22 points on 8-for-11 shooting (3-for-5 from 3-point range) in 22 minutes. Add in a few rebounds, assists and a steal, and it was one of the best games of his year-plus career.
Since then, Forbes has played fewer than 10 minutes just twice. He’s otherwise been a rock solid scorer for the Spurs, averaging 6.9 points on 40 percent shooting from behind the arc. That includes a 15-point game in Wednesday’s loss to the Philadelphia 76ers.
Standing behind the arc will be how the Michigan State product makes NBA money. He’s not tall for his position (listed at 6-foot-3), no one will mistake him for a lockdown guard and, through Jan. 4, 49 percent of shots were from 3-point territory. It’s all on his shooting stroke and how often he can stretch the floor. Anything else will be a bonus, which can happen as long as his offensive game develops. Could it even be something he cashes in on this summer?
Bryn from three ? https://t.co/AhSyQX1Vb0
— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) December 24, 2017
The other positive for Forbes’ opportunity? It doesn’t appear to be going away. No one is set to return from a long-term injury. Paul isn’t breathing down his back. The same goes for rookie Derrick White. There’s no one to contest this ninth-man/occasional starter role. So, barring a trade, it could be the 24-year-old’s job to keep for the rest of the season.
Come playoff time, Forbes may come in handy to provide quick scoring off the bench. Someone who can swish it in chunks, similar to what happened in the 2017 Summer League. It’s a time when NBA coaches shorten their rotations, which should benefit the Lansing, MI native as the fourth or fifth man off the bench. He may not see action in every game but in a situational manner.
2017-18 has been a positive development for Forbes, who locked down a rotation spot. How much further will it push him in the latter part of the season?