With a rash of injuries to several San Antonio Spurs guards to start the season, third-year point guard Bryn Forbes was pressed into duty in the starting lineup and exceeded all expectations.
Just before the 2018-19 NBA season started the San Antonio Spurs were hit with devestating news: NBA All-Defensive point guard Dejounte Murray had torn his ACL doing a preseason game. This loss would be further compounded after newly drafted rookie Lonnie Walker IV tore his meniscus and second-year guard Derrick White continued to suffer from a nagging heel injury that would sideline the two of them to start the season.
As such, Bryn Forbes, an unlikely hero, stepped up to lead the Spurs at the point guard position.
Undrafted out of Michigan State, Forbes spent most of his rookie season traveling up and down Interstate 35, commuting from San Antonio to Austin to get reps playing in the G-League.
After an impressive summer torching defenses in the 2017 NBA Las Vegas Summer League, Forbes saw a considerable bump in his minutes going into his second year, averaging 19 minutes and seeing action in 80 games. During the summer of 2018 Sparty was rewarded for his development by signing a two-year contract worth about $6 million to stay in the Alamo City.
In the moment, I was a staunch opponent to the Fobres re-signing. With Murray coming off of a breakout season and White’s emergence as a star in the G-League coupled with drafting Walker and veteran Patty Mills still being in the mix, I was skeptical as to where Forbes would fit into the rotation.
Like many, I should never have doubted the San Antonio Spurs. Time and time again this organization has found a way to identify, sign and, most importantly, develop young talent. Forbes is just the latest example of the Spurs seeing what other teams can’t and making something out of seemingly nothing.
After an uncharacteristic and drama-filled summer that consisted of Kawhi Leonard being traded to the Toronto Raptors, Tony Parker switching franchises after 17 seasons repping the Silver and Black, and Manu Ginobili deciding to hang it up after 16 years, the Spurs found themselves in uncharted territory.
Throw in the slew of maladies that plagued the team during the preseason and the Spurs had just about every reason to just phone it in and put forth a mediocre season.
But that’s not in their DNA.
To paraphrase Mark Twain: the reports of the San Antonio Spurs’ death were greatly exaggerated. Thanks to the likes of players such as Forbes, who was unafraid of the big moment and seized the opportunity to make an impact on the court, helping send the franchise to a 22nd consecutive playoff appearance against all odds.
In year three, Forbes nearly doubled his scoring output, averaging 11.8 points per game, while chipping in 2.9 rebounds and 2.1 assists in 28 minutes of court time. After starting just 12 games during his second year, Forbes got the starting nod in all but one game during the 2018-19 season.
The Michigan State product solidified his role as the three-point specialist on the team, leading the Spurs in 3-Pointers Made (176), 3-Pointers Attempted (413) and posting the second-best 3-Point Percentage* (42.6 percent, *min. 100 attempts).
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On the surface, Forbes never projected to be a player who could come into the NBA and average nearly 12 points a night against the best players in the world, hence why he went undrafted. Forbes doesn’t have the measurables. Forbes has average height at 6’3″, he isn’t a spectacular athlete and Bryn is far from a defensive stopper.
Despite all of that, Forbes has found his niche and carved out a role on a playoff roster. In an unselfish environment like San Antonio, Forbes was able to showcase his game, becoming the fourth-leading scoring on the Spurs by the end of the season.
While he’s an excellent sharpshooter, Forbes was far from a one-trick pony. Forbes can take a few steps inside the arc and knock down a jumper from the free-throw line, but he can also take defenders off the dribble and drive hard to the hoop.
With increased minutes, Forbes became more and more comfortable throughout the course of the season, progressing night after night as he worked through mistakes and built on positive outings. And, while he usually has a quiet demeanor, it was refreshing to see Forbes let out a deep-belly roar after draining back-to-back threes or chest bump a teammate after a great sequence.
Forbes’ leap was not been lost on the coaching staff either. Coach Gregg Popovich has frequently showered the young guard with praise about the strides he’s made in his short career.
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Overall, Forbes fit in nicely with both White and DeMar DeRozan, complementing their differing skillsets while also creating opportunities for them to prosper offensively. It will be interesting how he continues to progress playing alongside those guys and how Forbes will mesh with Murray when he returns next season.
With the unexpected emergence of Forbes, the Spurs organization will have a lot to consider this offseason, like potentially moving on from their longest-tenured Spur Patty Mills to focus on addressing other needs that better align with their elite guard depth.
But one thing is certain: Bryn Forbes is right where he belongs.
Check out our other 2018-19 Performance Reviews: