In a drastic change of events, the San Antonio Spurs have traded their defensive prowess for an improved offense.
Scoring hasn’t been much of an issue for the Spurs through their first four games. Standing with a .500 record early into the season, both shooting guard DeMar DeRozan and power forward LaMarcus Aldridge seem to complement each other in the pick and roll and elsewhere. The exquisite ball handling skills of DeRozan allow him to find open shooters which were absent in the 2017-18 season.
They’re currently 12th in the NBA in scoring with 114.8 points per contest, an average that’d rank them as the highest scoring team last year. Furthermore, the Spurs are the second most accurate team from three-point range in the NBA. They’re connecting on 44.3 percent of attempts from behind the arc thus far.
Coach Popovich on the Spurs’ defensive struggles tonight in a loss to Indiana pic.twitter.com/FarU66GQhk
— Spurs Nation (@Spurs_Nation) October 25, 2018
Needless to say, the NBA is readjusting to the regular season by ditching defense as a whole. New shot clock rules regarding offensive rebounds have shortened extra possessions, in turn increasing the pace of the game and encouraging fast break scoring.
Essentially, no one in the NBA knows how to play defense right now.
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A lot of this has to do with the roster turnover that teams around the league are dealing with. Many organizations are building around new players and transformed rosters. The loaded 2018 free agency market provided many teams with opportunities to fill out their rotations with players that fit their long-term vision.
When considering that along with one of the most anticipated rookie classes of the last decade and a bundle of offseason trades, the NBA looks extremely different from previous seasons. With that in mind, players and coaches are getting used to each other on multiple levels. It’s only the second week of the season, so chemistry and defensive intensity will culminate over the coming months.
It’s not time to freak out about the Spurs’ deficient defense effort just yet. Losing point guard Dejounte Murray was a huge blow to the team’s perimeter defense but it’s not the end all be all of this season. With sophomore Derrick White expected to rejoin the team in November, head coach Gregg Popovich will regain a smart and consistent defender for his rotation.
It’s way too early to judge the way a team will look in April. While offense wins games, defense wins championships and few leaders know that as well as Popovich.
Team defense will come as the roster becomes comfortable together and learns to work to each other’s strengths and weaknesses.