San Antonio Spurs: Ranking the 2018 preseason games by intrigue
By Rob Wolkenbrod
The San Antonio Spurs won’t take the court for the preseason until September, but let’s look at what to expect from their short schedule.
Two months remain before the San Antonio Spurs take the court for the 2018 preseason, in September, for a five-game slate. It’s the opportunity for the coaching staff to evaluate the rotation, new players and what they can expect for the 2018-19 campaign.
The preseason hardly provides important basketball, but it’s still an opportune time for players to try to impress the staff and earn a chance at playing time. That goes for draft picks, undrafted players, those on tryouts and more.
The Spurs have five games set for their preseason and some of them could provide interesting storylines, mostly with who they will go head-to-head with. Will there be anything to look forward to? Let’s take a look:
5. Friday, Oct. 5 vs. Pistons
Without cap space in the 2018 offseason, the Detroit Pistons sat on the sidelines. They arguably made their summer move earlier this year, with the trade for Blake Griffin from the Los Angeles Clippers; this deal also sent their first round pick to LA, so they were left without a lottery rookie.
However, the Pistons still boast a frontcourt of Griffin and Andre Drummond. Along with Reggie Jackson, they still have interesting pieces to make a run at the bottom of the Eastern Conference’s playoff picture.
It’s also one of the first games under new coach Dwane Casey, so let’s see how they look in the San Antonio Spurs’ second game of the preseason.
Next: Heat and Magic
4. Sunday, Sept. 30 vs. Heat
Like the Pistons, the Miami Heat had a full salary cap and no room to add outside players. They were without a first round pick, as well, due to the Goran Dragic trade earlier this decade. So, their roster looks the same as 2017-18, with Dragic, Hassan Whiteside and Justise Winslow all still around. Will Dwyane Wade be there too?
Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra gets the most out of his players, however, as they were in the midst of the Eastern Conference’s playoff race for most of the previous season. This game should provide a little bit of that, as well as an opportunity to see a first look at the 2018-19 San Antonio Spurs.
3. Friday, Oct. 12 at Magic
Despite high draft picks and negative results, the Orlando Magic still possess a youthful lineup. Aaron Gordon, Evan Fournier and Nikola Vucevic all remain with the team, but eyes will be on the No. 6 pick of the 2018 NBA Draft, Mohamed Bamba.
Bamba, the lanky shot blocker from Texas, will be a player to watch, pending he suits up in this final preseason game. That potentially means a matchup against LaMarcus Aldridge or Pau Gasol.
A look at Bamba is enough intrigue alone. Again, though, it’s the final preseason game and may result in multiple starters playing few minutes or none at all, so it could be a quiet end before the meaningful games begin.
Next: Hawks and Rockets
2. Wednesday, Oct. 10 at Hawks
The Atlanta Hawks underwent a retooling this summer, mostly with the 2018 NBA Draft. It led to Trae Young, Kevin Huerter and Omari Spellman at pick No. 3, 19 and 30, respectively, to form a lite version of the Golden State Warriors. Huerter and Young were considered two of the draft, while Spellman can stretch the floor but also work inside to grab rebounds.
Young, the polarizing figure of the group, struggled in the NBA Summer League, shooting just 38 percent from the field. Eyes will be on his performances against NBA-caliber players.
All of this is a risky play by the Atlanta front office, but their new pieces should be on display in this Oct. 10 game against the San Antonio Spurs, who will also put their new backcourt against them, of a full-time Dejounte Murray and DeMar DeRozan.
1. Sunday, Oct. 7 vs. Rockets
The Houston Rockets may have lost Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute, but they still boast James Harden, Chris Paul and Clint Capela, all of whom gave the San Antonio Spurs fits in the 2017-18 season. They led Houston to a 3-1 record against the Silver and Black, with the one loss coming late in the year.
Perhaps the most interesting player, will be Carmelo Anthony, who will receive a buyout from the Hawks and sign with the Rockets. It’s not official, but when it is, Anthony will join his third team in three years and potentially suit up for this third preseason game.
It’s also the chance for the San Antonio Spurs backcourt to match up against Harden and Paul, as well as a defensive test for DeRozan. Even in meaningless action, will he showcase the one-on-one skill to limit the 2017-18 NBA MVP?