ESPN thinks the San Antonio Spurs will not make the 2019 postseason, despite the offseason moves made in July.
The San Antonio Spurs have reached the postseason in 21 consecutive years, the longest active streak of any NBA team. This run included five championships and soon-to-be or future Pro Basketball Hall of Famers, but times have changed in San Antonio.
The 2018 offseason reshaped the look of the Spurs, with the departure of Tony Parker and the trade of Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green. Despite this, they added DeMar DeRozan, Marco Belinelli and Jakob Poeltl throughout July and re-signed Rudy Gay.
What will this mean for the Spurs competing in the Western Conference? This crowded group tinkered with their teams, as well, including LeBron James signing with the Los Angeles Lakers. Apparently, with this and other West movement, ESPN’s Kevin Pelton does not think the Silver and Black will be as good as they were last season (h/t Pounding the Rock):
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The narrative about the Spurs since the Leonard trade has been that they’re adding DeRozan to a team that won 47 games last season with virtually no contribution from Kawhi. (I even mentioned something similar in my trade grades.) The problem with that analysis is San Antonio lost two other starters in Danny Green and Kyle Anderson, who filled Leonard’s spot in the lineup. Anderson rated as the Spurs’ second-best player by RPM last season and Green (minus-0.2) projects better than DeRozan (minus-0.4) by RPM. Add in aging from San Antonio’s veteran core, and it’s certainly possible the Spurs won’t be as good as they were last season, though I wouldn’t necessarily bet against them making the playoffs.
Pelton also projected the Spurs at 38.5 wins. That would be their lowest total since the 1996-97 season.
The Spurs did lose two of their best defenders, which could be a year-long concern, depending on how DeRozan’s unheralded defense translates and if Dejounte Murray takes another step forward. It might take a team effort from the bench, too, and more molding from coach Gregg Popovich.
Either way, San Antonio has a battle to make the playoffs, much like the 2017-18 season. The possibility of sitting out was strong up until the campaign’s final games, but they snuck in as the No. 7 seed and received a date with the Golden State Warriors.
It’s still two-plus months away from the season’s start date, but the projections have only begun for the Spurs and the other 29 teams. Will they make the postseason for the 22nd consecutive year?