The San Antonio Spurs and the point guard dilemma
By Samuel Gonzales
Surprisingly good point guard play has salvaged the season. Here is why the San Antonio Spurs now have a problem:
This past offseason for the San Antonio Spurs was certainly one for the ages.
The Spurs lost two of their franchise cornerstones with Tony Parker electing to sign with the Charlotte Hornets in lieu of a player-coach role on the Spurs bench and Manu Ginobili choosing it was time to enjoy some chicken fingers with his family among the other Spurs fans in the crowd.
Secondly, and most notably, the Kawhi Leonard saga eventually landed DeMar DeRozan and Jakob Poeltl in black and silver and sent Leonard and Danny Green to a different country.
The blow of this transition was supposed to be softened by the emergence of Dejounte Murray with his athletic frame, speed, and Leonard-esque defense prowess. However, a torn right ACL in a preseason game against the Rockets left the Spurs without Murray for the entire season.
Insult to injury. Or in this case, vice versa.
The insertion of Derrick White and the increased role of Bryn Forbes was meant to keep the Spurs afloat with the veteran leadership of Patty Mills leading a ‘point-guard-by-committee’ scenario.
As the season began to unfold and the Spurs point guards would start to gel, the trio would eventually have the Spurs surging into a playoff spot.
Bryn Forbes has shot 43% from beyond the arc, ranking 12th in the association and 88% from the charity stripe. Forbes provides a point guard that stretches the floor, allowing more room for LaMarcus Aldridge to operate while keeping defenses honest.
Forbes’ quick trigger has led to some fans pulling out their hair, but in today’s NBA we can’t argue with the results. Forbes is also on a financially friendly deal at 6 million dollars over the next two years.
Derrick White, perhaps the Spurs most surprising player this year, is nearing a double-digit scoring average at 9.2 point per game this season.
Although this figure is not jumping off the page, Spurs fans have seen White, standing at a true 6-4 height, guard multiple positions, make clutch shots, and seemingly ball out versus the NBA’s stars. White is also on a friendly, 3yr/5 million dollar contract.
Forbes and White, combined, versus the elite teams in the NBA, have produced:
37 points, 10 assists, 13 rebounds ( v. Okalahoma City Thunder)
39 points, 7 assists, 3 rebounds (v. Toronto Raptors)
37 points, 5 assists, 5 rebounds (v. Boston Celtics)
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For sake of the obvious, the production of Patty Mills extends beyond just his dominating shooting abilities, tireless motor on both sides of the ball and locker room presence. Gregg Popovich eluded to Mills as a team leader when contrasting said quality to Kawhi Leonard.
As Dejounte Murray looks to return to the team next season, the Spurs must make a decision that best fits the team and correlates with the production of all the point guards mentioned above.
How will playing time be divided when everyone is back next year and guards DeMar Derozan, Marco Belinelli and Lonnie Walker have yet to be accounted for?
Although Murray is under contract through at least next season, the Spurs need to consider the salary cap issues that will arise when both White and Forbes are up for possible extensions and the salaries of both DeRozan and Aldridge must be built around.
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Lastly, will Murray return to full strength and continue the progression Spurs fans saw last year? Which guards are worth investing in?
Are any of these point guards destined to be a key piece in a possible trade for a bigger name?
The Spurs have their work cut out for them, but this is a problem that any organization would love to have.