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San Antonio Spurs: Saving the season with improved shot selection

SACRAMENTO, CA - FEBRUARY 4: Davis Bertans #42 and Rudy Gay #22 of the San Antonio Spurs look on during the game against the Sacramento Kings on February 4, 2019 at Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, 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 Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)
SACRAMENTO, CA - FEBRUARY 4: Davis Bertans #42 and Rudy Gay #22 of the San Antonio Spurs look on during the game against the Sacramento Kings on February 4, 2019 at Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, 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 Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)
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In an effort to save their season, the San Antonio Spurs need to consider altering their shot selection and getting the ball in the hands of their natural scorers.

The last two games have served as a real low-point for one of the most historically noteworthy franchises in the history of sports. When the San Antonio Spurs are brought up in conversation by non-Spurs fans, a baseline of success is immediately considered. Even without the emotional attachment of a Spurs fan, people generally respect the organization for its basketball purity and dedication to the winning product.

In order to truly embody these values and return to the playoffs once again, Spurs patriarch Gregg Popovich needs to take a long look at his team and start redistributing shots. Naturally LaMarcus Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan, two All-Star quality leaders and isolation scorers, are the clear leaders in shot attempts per contest but the rest of the squad needs tweaking.

Popovich implemented lengthy forward Davis Bertans to the starting lineup in recent games, relegating him to the team’s final option in the starting five. As a result, he’s made only two of his nine attempts in his last two starts without a three-pointer. There’s no point in starting Davis Bertans if he’s going to shoot 2-for-9 across two games.

I like that Davis Bertans got the start, he's the most accurate 3 point shooter in the league.

I don't like that he shot 0 times in 10 minutes.

— Tom Petrini (@RealTomPetrini) February 26, 2019

In losses against Brooklyn and New York, Bertans took a considerably low volume of jumpers because his facilitators failed to put him in proper position to succeed. Using Bertans only as a floor spacer and corner camper is a complete misuse of his talents and has hurt what is supposed to be the NBA’s most efficient three-point shooting team. To preserve the success of the team and improve their odds of reaching the postseason, San Antonio should consider moving Bertans back to the bench while giving him starting minutes and increased shot attempts, especially from three.

Rudy Gay, "the perfect Spur"! ?#GoSpursGo pic.twitter.com/PbiQsmLyLS

— FOX Sports Southwest (@FOXSportsSW) February 25, 2019

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Another issue that’s held back the Spurs as a scoring unit is the lack of shot attempts for the team’s third best scorer, Rudy Gay. It’s become evidently clear that Gay has reemerged as one of the game’s most effortless scorers from the wing. His smooth pull up jumper, enhanced three-point range and reestablished explosiveness have been invaluable to the reeling Spurs.

Over the last two games, Gay has taken only 19 shots for a grand total of 23 points – a scoring total that Rudy could eclipse in his sleep. San Antonio must be more aggressive in involving Gay and increasing the volume of his shots in order for the team to regain stature in the Western Conference playoff race. Without his scoring, the team sinks into a flurry of mid-range jump shots and forced threes. In an era where Big Threes have become the norm, San Antonio needs its third best player to step up down the stretch.

This could come at the expense of Bryn Forbes, who has attempted 26 shots for only six made field goals over his last two games. The unfortunate truth is that Forbes simply isn’t as good a player as the veteran Gay, so he needs to stop jacking up contested jumpers and defer to his teammates in order to maximize his own potential.

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Hopefully things will stabilize as San Antonio returns home, but questionable shot distribution is not something that goes away without careful observation and strategic implementation by Pop.

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