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San Antonio Spurs: Analyzing Bryn Forbes as the starting point guard

By Noah Magaro-George
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 22: Bryn Forbes #11 of the San Antonio Spurs handles the ball against the Los Angeles Lakers on October 22, 2018 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 22: Bryn Forbes #11 of the San Antonio Spurs handles the ball against the Los Angeles Lakers on October 22, 2018 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images)
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SAN ANTONIO, TX – OCTOBER 5: Bryn Forbes #11 of the San Antonio Spurs shoots the ball against the Detroit Pistons during a pre-season game. (Photos by Mark Sobhani/NBAE via Getty Images)
SAN ANTONIO, TX – OCTOBER 5: Bryn Forbes #11 of the San Antonio Spurs shoots the ball against the Detroit Pistons during a pre-season game. (Photos by Mark Sobhani/NBAE via Getty Images)

We’re a week into the new NBA season and Bryn Forbes continues to man the starting point guard position for the San Antonio Spurs. Three games may be a small sample size, but what have we seen from the third-year guard?

A plethora of preseason injuries to the Spurs’ point guard rotation has forced Bryn Forbes off the bench and into the starting lineup. Although he rarely operated as the primary facilitator in either college or high school, Forbes has filled in quite nicely in the absence of Dejounte Murray and Derrick White.

It’s unclear at the moment whether or not San Antonio can maintain their success with Forbes in the starting five. He’s been far from perfect on either end of the floor, but without his contributions the Spurs wouldn’t have beaten the Lakers and they could be looking at a winless record to start the season.

With that in mind, let’s break down Bryn Forbes effectiveness as a starter for San Antonio.

Next: How can Forbes improve?

SAN ANTONIO,TX – OCTOBER 17 : Despite losing his balance Derrick Rose #25 of the Minnesota Timberwolves gets off a pass in front of Bryn Forbes #11 of the San Antonio Spurs in season opener (Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images)
SAN ANTONIO,TX – OCTOBER 17 : Despite losing his balance Derrick Rose #25 of the Minnesota Timberwolves gets off a pass in front of Bryn Forbes #11 of the San Antonio Spurs in season opener (Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images)

How can Forbes improve?

The good has far outweighed the bad, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement.

Even on a team with several defensive deficiencies, Bryn’s defense has left a lot to be desired. Opposing teams have identified him as the weakest link on the floor and they’ve relentlessly attacked Forbes.

His lack of spacial awareness has allowed big men and guards alike to trap him on screens and force favorable mismatches. Whether it’s drawing him into the post to battle a big or dragging a center out on the perimeter to chase a guard, Forbes has to get better at fighting through screens.

Related Story. Can DeMar DeRozan run point guard?

Unfortunately for the Spurs, his defensive woes don’t stop there. When teams aren’t exploiting Forbes on switches, they’re taking advantage of his miscommunications.

San Antonio doesn’t need him to become the leader of this defense, but they will need him to become more vocal. Forbes is one of their worst defenders at the moment, though that could change as time goes on.

Forbes didn't always read the defense well and occasionally struggled to make the right pass. His playmaking was iffy at best, but it was his defense that plagued the Spurs. Bryn overcommitted on some closeouts, failed to fight through tough screens and Portland took it to him. pic.twitter.com/v5LjdD8sw9

— Noah Magaro-George (@N_Magaro) October 22, 2018

One thing that must improve if San Antonio is serious about starting Forbes at point guard is his playmaking. While the speedy marksman excels at finding an open shot without the ball in his hands, it’s a completely different story when he’s tasked with creating for others.

The former Spartan can hit an obviously open man and has had no trouble with passing accuracy. Where he struggles is finding a way to make an opening where one previously did not exist. Nobody’s expecting him to lead the league in assists this season, but is some Cory Joseph-type playmaking too much to ask for?

Bryn Forbes clearly isn’t a starting caliber NBA point guard, but he’s done a damn good job of filling some huge shoes.

Next: What has Bryn done well?

SAN ANTONIO, TX – OCTOBER 17: head coach Gregg Popovich, Bryn Forbes #11, and Rudy Gay #22 of the San Antonio Spurs look on during a game against the Minnesota Timberwolves on October 17, 2018 at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photos by Chris Covatta/NBAE via Getty Images)
SAN ANTONIO, TX – OCTOBER 17: head coach Gregg Popovich, Bryn Forbes #11, and Rudy Gay #22 of the San Antonio Spurs look on during a game against the Minnesota Timberwolves on October 17, 2018 at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photos by Chris Covatta/NBAE via Getty Images)

What has Bryn done well?

For all of Forbes’ shortcomings on the court, there are quite a few things the combo guard does well.

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One thing the third-year veteran does better than almost any other player in the league is shooting the rock from beyond the arc. Not only has he shot the long-ball with supreme confidence, but he’s drained those attempts to a stunningly efficient tune of 47.6%.

The Michigan State alum led the Spurs in three-point percentage last year and his sharpshooting gives the Spurs a weapon they’ll desperately need as the season progresses. DeMar DeRozan, LaMarcus Aldridge and the rest of the starting five can consistently stretch the floor with their midrange shooting, but no one on the roster can draw a defender out on the perimeter quite like Forbes.

One worry I had going into the year was Bryn’s ability to take care of the ball. Though he hasn’t been particularly turnover prone in the NBA, he’s never had this kind of ball handling responsibility placed upon his shoulders.

Related Story. Spurs 2018-19 Player Previews: Bryn Forbes

Forbes hasn’t exactly picked apart the defense with his vision or handles, but he has avoided handing over extra possessions to his opponents, and that in itself is a promising sign. Under most circumstances, his 2.0 assists per game as the starting point guard would be concerning. However, it appears San Antonio has merely placed the moniker of point guard upon him while handing over floor general duties to DeMar DeRozan.

On top of taking care of the basketball, Forbes has continued to show he isn’t afraid of the moment and coach Pop has rewarded him with more minutes in crunch time. In return, the undersized guard has responded with clutch shooting and more smart play down the stretch.

Next: Conclusion

SAN ANTONIO, TX – OCTOBER 7: Bryn Forbes #11 of the San Antonio Spurs drives around James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets during a preseason game. (Photo by Edward A. Ornelas/Getty Images)
SAN ANTONIO, TX – OCTOBER 7: Bryn Forbes #11 of the San Antonio Spurs drives around James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets during a preseason game. (Photo by Edward A. Ornelas/Getty Images)

Conclusion

He isn’t close to being the Spurs’ best player. Nonetheless, with the game on the line, there’s no one I trust more to drill a dagger from downtown to seal the deal.

While watching Forbes play defense can cause a fair share of facepalming for Spurs fans, his effort on that end should never be in question. His measurables and athleticism put him at a disadvantage in almost every matchup he faces, but that doesn’t stop him from trying. He hounds his assignment on every possession and he’s even come up with some huge defensive plays.

https://twitter.com/spurs/status/1054574173287198720

He isn’t the answer at point guard for San Antonio, and he doesn’t have to be. All the Spurs need from Forbes is adequate point guard play. So far, he’s done everything asked of him and more, and I’m confident he’ll keep up the good work.

Next. Three breakout players for 2018-19

Once he returns to the pine, that’s when things really get interesting because San Antonio’s second unit is already dangerous. The question is, how lethal can they become when you add Forbes to the mix?

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