After signing free agent forward DeMarre Carroll this summer, the San Antonio Spurs need to figure out his official role with the team.
Standing at 6-foot-8 with the height and strength to play both forward positions, San Antonio Spurs forward DeMarre Carroll allows head coach Gregg Popovich quite a bit of versatility on the wing. Known for his defensive grittiness and intensity on both ends of the floor, Carroll is sure to be a great fit in the Alamo City for his physicality and attention to detail.
Still, Pop will need to do some tinkering with a clogged backcourt and a questionable frontcourt rotation. Carroll slots alongside Rudy Gay as one of the team’s two true small forwards with DeMar DeRozan, Lonnie Walker IV and Marco Belinelli all possessing the size to slide down into that slot as needed. DeRozan spent much of his time last season as the team’s starting small forward, but Carroll’s implementation to the lineup can change that.
With Carroll on the active roster, San Antonio could opt to slide their star shooting guard back to his natural position with one of Carroll or Gay slotting as small forward and the other moving down to power forward. Traditionally viewed as small forwards, both of these players excelled at the four-spot last season and can work off of each other to space the floor.
Popovich would then bring center Jakob Poeltl, who showed flashes of excellence in the playoffs, to the bench – solidifying the Spurs as one of the deepest teams in the league. This means that LaMarcus Aldridge would have to assume the role of starting center, a spot where he can excel despite his preference of playing at the four.
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Sometimes players need to make sacrifices because of roster construction and Aldridge is a great example of this. He turned 34 years old today and needs to preserve his body moving forward, so sliding down to the center could help him to age better for the limited movement and emphasis on protecting the rim.
Carroll could slot into a starting spot to provide some defense, but he’d also be an excellent option off the bench in San Antonio. That’s the role he filled in Brooklyn during his tenure there and he filled it superbly, providing energy off the pine to help surge a hopeful playoff contender.
Assuming some combination of Bryn Forbes, Derrick White, Chimezie Metu, Trey Lyles and Walker will come off the bench, Carroll allows for a more defensive-minded strategy in a flimsy frontcourt rotation. He can space the floor for this group and make plays to set his teammates up with assists.
This is a great problem to have for the Spurs. Carroll is a jack of all trades and is willing to succumb to his team’s needs instead of his own personal gain. As a result, he’ll be implemented into the team’s rotation in a multitude of ways – but only time will tell how he fares best.