Despite a rough preseason, the San Antonio Spurs still have the potential to take the league by storm this year if all of these bold predictions come true.
Other than the Minnesota Timberwolves, San Antonio Spurs’ opponent on Wednesday night, no one has had a rougher preseason than Gregg Popovich’s team.
Three of their promising young guards have already suffered significant injuries, including starter Dejounte Murray who was primed for a big season.
However, there are still plenty of reasons to be excited about this year as the Spurs have surrounded their two All-NBA superstars with plenty of young talent that could break out this season.
In order to make a deep run in the postseason, San Antonio will need to accomplish a few things that no one saw coming.
If these bold predictions come true, the Spurs could be among the NBA’s elite this season:
Next: DeMar DeRozan starts draining threes
DeMar DeRozan starts draining threes
DeMar DeRozan has become an elite scorer in this league while avoiding the three-point shot for most of his career.
He’s scored over 20 points per game in each of the past five seasons, but he has never shot more than 3 three-point attempts per game before last year.
The lack of a three-point shot has held back DeRozan’s offensive efficiency numbers. He had a career-high 55.5% true shooting percentage last season, but many of the league’s top offensive players are above 60% year in and year out.
DeRozan improved from deep last year, but a rough couple of months brought his three-point percentage down to 31% on a career-high 3.6 attempts per game.
A full offseason with San Antonio’s shooting coach Chip Engelland should improve DeRozan’s shot from downtown, and I think he will put up career highs in three-point percentage, three-point attempts, and true shooting percentage in a Spurs uniform this season.
Next: LaMarcus Aldridge improve three-point shot
LaMarcus Aldridge will also improve his three-point shot
LaMarcus Aldridge has made a career out of dominating the midrange and high post areas of the floor. But with the arrival of DeMar DeRozan, there may not be enough room for both of them to exclusively attack from two-point range.
I believe that both of the Spurs’ All-NBA players will extend their range this season, and Aldridge backed up that prediction by saying he’s been working on the three-point shot this offseason:
“I put in a lot of time, feeling more comfortable with it,” said Aldridge. “I probably feel as comfortable as I did my last year in Portland. That’s when I shot the most in my career.”
That year in Portland Aldridge shot 35.2% from downtown on 1.5 three-point attempts per game, so we know he has it in him.
Aldridge has increased his three-point attempt rate in each of his three seasons in San Antonio, and I believe he’ll use that increased range to put in the most efficient year of his career in 2018-19.
Next: The Spurs will have home-court advantage in the first round
The Spurs will have home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs
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San Antonio couldn’t have had worse luck last year as Kawhi Leonard sat out nearly the entire season and became a distraction with rumors regarding his future.
Now the Spurs have freed themselves of the Kawhi drama and added a four-time All-Star to a team that won 47 games in an ultra-competitive Western Conference last year.
Before Dejounte Murray got hurt, I think this team could’ve competed for the two-seed in the West behind Golden State. But those injuries at the point guard position have forced me to temper my expectations a bit.
I still think the Spurs have the talent to contend this season, and the genius of Gregg Popovich will have this group overachieving as they have every year of his tenure.
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With two All-NBA players primed to have the most efficient seasons of their career and a deep supporting cast with a good mix of veterans and youth, I think San Antonio will host a playoff series again this spring.