In Jakob Peoltl’s first meeting with the San Antonio Spurs media, he discussed DeMar DeRozan’s motivation this season with the chip on his shoulder.
The marquee move of the San Antonio Spurs offseason, the trade for DeMar DeRozan, Jakob Poeltl and a protected 2019 first-round pick, shook up the roster more than anything. They came in as Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green went out.
Since the deal, DeRozan voiced displeasure for the way Toronto handled his exit. Though, Poeltl mostly stayed quiet.
On Thursday, Poeltl met with the Spurs media for the first time to discuss his acclimation to the organization. The topics included a dinner with head coach Gregg Popovich, Charles Barkley’s praise for Poeltl, and DeRozan’s comments of having a chip on his shoulder this season (h/t Pounding the Rock):
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“It’s a little bit scary, to be honest, because I know what he can do when he has a chip on his shoulder, when he gets that extra motivation. Yeah, I think he’s going to be ready.”
“The great thing about him is what he has learned over these past few years, especially last year. He is really good about making reads now and taking over a game and (knowing) when to take over a game. Everyone knows he can take over a game and score 30, 40 points, but then you have games where the defense adjusts to him and he finds his teammates.”
“He is a really intelligent player, knows how to read the game, knows how to get defenses to break down.”
Poeltl will know this more than anyone on the Spurs, given his two years with DeRozan in Toronto. If that’s the case, this should be a fun season, to see the USC product in action and in tandem with LaMarcus Aldridge.
How far can DeRozan go? He topped out at 27.3 points per game in the 2016-17 season, among the best in the NBA. The past five seasons have been above 20 points per game, as well, with three consecutive All-Star game appearances, so expectations may be high, either way.
The Spurs will need every bit of DeRozan to navigate through a difficult Western Conference that features the two-time defending champions, maybe the best player in the NBA and up to 10 or 11 teams that can make a case for the postseason; it’s a potentially scary proposition for San Antonio’s consecutive playoffs streak of 21 years.
DeRozan will show the Spurs what he can do soon, when training camp arrives at the end of September and the preseason soon after. How much will he bring to the table in 2018-19?