Scrappy combo guard Bryn Forbes has shown a lot of progress over the course of his time with the San Antonio Spurs, but he still has plenty of room to grow.
Slowly but surely, shooting guard Bryn Forbes has carved out an integral role for the San Antonio Spurs as an exceptional shot creator with uncanny three-point efficiency. The 25-year-old was a menace at Michigan State, crafting an arsenal of creative angles and shot-making ability under head coach Tom Izzo.
He joined the Spurs as an undrafted free agent following his departure from the Spartans and landed under Gregg Popovich, continuing his basketball education under another all-world leader in pursuit of a long and prosperous NBA career.
As a consistent starter in the 2018-19 season, Forbes averaged a career-high 11.8 points per game on 45.6 percent shooting from the field and an exceptional 42.6 percent from three. He’s become a tenacious scoring threat with the ability to take defenders off the dribble with some quickness before attacking the basket with his Tony Parker-esque floater or a strong layup.
Forbes plays with fire in his eyes and has an opportunity to earn himself a sizeable payday entering the final year of his contract, so he’ll need to work his tail off and show of even more improvement regardless of his role. His on-court chemistry with DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge may warrant his starting position for next season, but the return of Dejounte Murray, the emergence of Derrick White and the development of Lonnie Walker IV suggest that he’ll need to fight for his role.
With that in mind, there are a few areas that he’d benefit from working on.
Next: Work on clumsiness and ball control
Work on clumsiness and ball control
For all of his glory over the course of his third season in San Antonio, it was still evident to consistent viewers of his game that Forbes needs to become a more stable ball handler at the two-guard spot. His dribble moves are limited, and his hands are often weak, resulting in errant passes or fumbled catch-and-shoot opportunities.
Forbes is undersized for his position at 6-foot-3 and he makes up for it with a high release on his jumpshot, but and up fake and drive to the basket would make him a multidimensional secondary playmaker that can thrive under Popovich’s team-based motion offense.
It’s not unusual to see Forbes misread or botch a play here or there, so attention to detail will be crucial for his growth. He averaged one turnover per game in 28 minutes last season which is a fine rate for a starter, but that doesn’t tell the full story. Body control is key in the NBA and it’s a difficult concept to master. With that said, I have full confidence in his work ethic and dedication to both the sport and the Spurs.
Once Forbes displays control of his body and an ability to create shots for others as opposed to just himself, he’ll be an entirely advanced player.
Next: Add some muscle to improve defense
Add some muscle to improve defense
Forbes is a Firestarter on offense and has shown the ability to take over a game for short periods of time, but he lacks the physicality to lock up his opponent on the other end of the floor. His individual defensive rating was a disappointing 109.2 last season and his plus/minus for the season was -0.1.
This is largely due to the fact that he can’t guard many of his assignments despite oftentimes being put on smaller guards regardless of position. He’s got some great post defense with a low stance and active hands, but his perimeter defense needs work. This isn’t for a lack of effort – quite the contrary to be frank.
More often than not, Forbes is fighting around screens and scrambling to close out on shooters around the perimeter. Adding some muscle and asserting his will on opponents regardless of size is something that would help both him and the team as a whole to become a more succinct defensive group.
One thing that the Spurs will carry into next season is chemistry, something they’ve developed in boatloads over the course of the last year. Forbes has an advantage over some of his teammates because he’s been consistently healthy over the last few seasons, so he knows how to fit around his teammates.
San Antonio will certainly continue to put Forbes in position to succeed by dictating his matchups and working to cover up for his defensive deficiencies, but an improvement in terms of on-ball defense would add a facet to his game that can help take the Spurs from pretenders to contenders. Small details matter more than one might thing on the hardwood, and a more muscular frame will enable Forbes to battle against the league’s elite.
Next: Accepting his role and excelling under it
Accepting his role and excelling under it
There’s no telling how Popovich will adjust his rotation this offseason. Rudy Gay is an unrestricted free agent, the Spurs have a decent Mid-Level Exception to toy around with and they have three picks in the upcoming 2019 Draft. Boasting a healthy and determined roster heading into the 2019-20 season, Forbes could be asked to come off the bench at times.
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Forbes doesn’t seem to have much of an ego – he emphasizes the team’s success above all else. We’ve seen great players sacrifice the status of a starter to help the team become more complete as a whole and Forbes could be next in line to do so with Dejounte Murray returning from his torn ACL at full strength next season.
If he can accept a smaller role with a few less minutes per game, Forbes will not only have the chance to help the second unit excel, but he’ll also have a chance at being the go-to guard for the bench scoring unit. Forbes has legitimate Sixth Man of the Year potential should he slide back to the bench for his innate scoring ability, hustle, leadership qualities and keen understanding of Popovich’s implemented play styled.
Sacrificing greater personal success for the greater good of the team is something that many players can accept with grace. I’d imagine Forbes could accept this once the time comes for him to slide to the second unit. It should be a priority for the Spurs to return him to the Alamo City after next season.
San Antonio’s offense was a powerhouse when Forbes ran with the second unit last season. If he’s willing to take on a slightly different role, Forbes would be able to reap the benefits of competing against second units with wildly different expectations and capabilities.