How will the San Antonio Spurs’ scoring pecking order shape up for the 2018-19 season?
The San Antonio Spurs were hardly among the NBA’s leaders in the scoring department with 102.7 points per game in 2017-18, good for 27th of 30 teams. They were also near the bottom in three-point shooting, but with the defensive play on the other side to supplement it.
However, the offseason brought changes to the Spurs lineup and could see a difference in how they perform on the court in the 2018-19 season. That’s especially with the scorers that line up, starting with LaMarcus Aldridge and down the line from there.
How will the pecking order shape up for the Spurs this campaign, though? Who are the top two? What about the next three players that fall behind them? Let’s take a look:
5. Marco Belinelli
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The top five in the scoring pecking order starts with Marco Belinelli, who the San Antonio Spurs signed to a two-year, $12 million contract to spread the floor and improve the team’s three-point shooting. That alone should put him in the conversation among San Antonio’s leading scorers.
San Antonio placed in the bottom five in three-point shooting at 35.2 percent, so look for Belinelli to scoop up his fair share of shots this season from the outside. 4.9 of his 9.5 field-goal attempts per game were from this range in 2017-18, and something similar should be projected on the Spurs.
Look for Belinelli to finish around the fifth spot in San Antonio’s scoring pecking order. He might lead the team one or two nights in the season, but will often supplement the bigger names, and not the other way around.
Next: Pau Gasol and Rudy Gay
4. Pau Gasol
Despite Pau Gasol at age 38, he should still be among the Spurs’ main scorers this season, pending there’s not a significant drop in his skills. This might be a poor testament of the team’s scorers, but the two-time NBA champion still found a way to average double-digit points in career-low minutes.
At times, Gasol might take a backseat to Jakob Poeltl, the Spurs’ 22-year-old center picked up in the Kawhi Leonard trade. But look for the veteran center to find his baskets in spurts as a complement to other players on the roster.
It would not be a surprise, either, if Gasol’s spot in the pecking order falls. That depends on Dejounte Murray‘s development as a shooter and if a young player, like, Derrick White steps up in his first full NBA season.
3. Rudy Gay
Rudy Gay was thrust into a top scoring role for the San Antonio Spurs last season, as Kawhi Leonard missed all but nine games and forced others into main spots in the order. Just months prior, Gay suffered a ruptured Achilles injury, one that usually impacts an NBA player’s career negatively.
So, off an injury and a heel ailment that caused Gay to miss two months, he took the second scoring spot behind LaMarcus Aldridge. It still resulted in over 11 points per game, but not enough to take over games and provide the necessary insurance on the team’s MVP.
One year later, Gay slides down a spot and should have pressure taken off him to find baskets. It’s for the best at this point of his career, especially if the injuries persist. What it means for the overall points average, though, remains to be seen.
Next: LaMarcus Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan
2. LaMarcus Aldridge
LaMarcus Aldridge ruled the box score for the San Antonio Spurs in 2017-18, consistently as their leader in points per game. If Kawhi Leonard’s nine games of 16.2 points are taken out, the next closest player, Rudy Gay, was 11.6 behind Aldridge; a somewhat absurd gap and an indication of how this past season went.
The Spurs still won 47 games with a revitalized Aldridge. However, in the 2018-19 season, it would not be a surprise to see him slightly take a back seat to the new arrival.
1. DeMar DeRozan
DeMar DeRozan has the chance to become San Antonio’s top scorer, despite the career three-point percentage below 30 percent. If he flashes any improvement in this area and spreads the floor, it’s a game-changer for the Spurs and gives them something that was absent for most of this past year.
DeRozan averaged 31.2 percent from three-point range in 2017-18, so it was a step in the right direction. Whether that continues to trend up will be a storyline to watch, since it came on a career-high 3.6 attempts per game.
If the Spurs coaching staff plays to DeRozan’s strengths, then don’t expect him to flourish in this area. Even so, they can work the offense around him as a guard with quality size at 6-foot-7 that becomes a mismatch for the opposition in certain situations.