The San Antonio Spurs have some exciting young talent, but they also have a few players who may be due for some regression this season.
We took a look at the bright side of the San Antonio Spurs’ roster with three players that could be in for breakout years, but we also have to be honest and examine which players could disappoint this season.
San Antonio has collected a good mix of young and developing players to go along with some older veterans that have great knowledge of the game.
However, that knowledge of the game can only take you so far when you pass into your mid-30’s and your physical skills begin to wear down.
Without further ado, here are three players that could have rough years after playing well last season:
Next: Pau Gasol
Pau Gasol has become a fan favorite ever since he joined the Spurs and for good reason.
I am not so concerned with his offensive game at age 38 because of his exceptional passing ability and his recent addition of a lethal three-point shot.
Pau’s regression will mainly come on the defensive end.
Gasol actually ranked very favorably in ESPN’s defensive real plus-minus metric ranking 11th among centers last year, and his defense has been a pleasant surprise after many thought he was washed up on that end of the floor during his time in Chicago.
Pau’s defense wasn’t at that same level two years ago as he ranked 22nd among centers in defensive real plus-minus, and I’d expect that to be a more realistic expectation this season.
The arrival of Jakob Poeltl should cut into Pau’s minutes as the season wears on, which will have a negative effect on his numbers across the board.
Next: Marco Belinelli
Marco Belinelli is coming off of a strong season where he scored 13.6 points per game and hit 38.5% of his threes after being traded to Philadelphia at the deadline.
I think Belinelli is in a solid situation again this season as he reunites with the Spurs, but he’s historically been a streaky shooter (shot 30.6% from three in 2015-16) and it’s reasonable to expect his numbers to come down a bit.
Like Pau Gasol, Belinelli’s biggest concern is on the defensive end.
Despite playing on a strong defensive team in Philadelphia, Marco finished 60th among 72 guards in defensive real plus-minus.
At age 32 I don’t think Belinelli will suddenly become an above-average defender, but Pop could work his defensive magic once again.
Next: LaMarcus Aldridge
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I think LaMarcus Aldridge could actually become a more efficient player this season with the possible addition of a three-point shot, but the arrival of DeMar DeRozan should bring down his raw numbers in general.
Last year, Aldridge enjoyed being the alpha dog on offense once again as Kawhi Leonard missed nearly the entire season and the Spurs didn’t have many other answers on that end of the floor.
Aldridge put in one of his best years as a pro, but he recently turned 33 years old and it’s reasonable to assume that his best years are behind him.
Like Gasol and Belinelli, his age may show itself more on the defensive end of the floor. Aldridge has been a much-improved defender since joining the Spurs, but I could see that performance regressing to his career norm which would be an average defender.
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I’m still bullish on Aldridge this season, but don’t expect him to put up the same numbers that he did last year.