San Antonio Spurs: Has Trey Lyles been a revelation or a flash in the pan?

Trey Lyles of the San Antonio Spurs. (Photos by Logan Riely/NBAE via Getty Images)
Trey Lyles of the San Antonio Spurs. (Photos by Logan Riely/NBAE via Getty Images)
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 Signed this offseason, Trey Lyles had a mixed reception upon his announcement. Now, he’s standing his own ground as a starter for the San Antonio Spurs.

When the San Antonio Spurs signed power forward Trey Lyles to a cheap, two-year deal this offseason, it felt like a desperate response in the face of Marcus Morris‘s surprise change of mind. He had shown slight glimpses of the talent that deemed him a 12th overall pick with the Jazz, but never the full product.

Many saw him potentially as a playmaking power forward with an uncanny ability to attack the glass, but he was simply too inconsistent. This was more the reason for his trade to the Nuggets in 2017, and his eventual release two years later.

Lyles didn’t have a ton of expectations coming into this year. Many assumed he would be a simple bench player but he’s punched above his weight early on this season, dispelling Jacob Poeltl to the bench and assuming the starting PF position next to LaMarcus Aldridge. Is he already becoming the latest in a long line of shrewd business moves by the Spurs?

Let’s take a look at what the 24-year-old Lyles has brought to the table so far in this young season.

So far, Trey Lyles has proven to be a solid partner for LaMarcus but he hasn’t exactly dazzled anyone either. The aggressive playmaker has taken a step back to focus on his rebounding, energy, and defense at the cost of what made him such a highly-touted prospect.

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The biggest example of this is his scoreline from the Warriors game, 14 rebounds with 3 assists, but no points in 28 minutes. His eight points versus the Hawks was one of his better offensive performances. Again, he was an asset rebounding wise in that game, as he had 12 to go with a block.

Overall, he’s staying out of the way for the bigger names such as LaMarcus and DeMar DeRozan while focusing on the little things to help out the team in transition. He passes well but doesn’t generate many assists. He shoots, but only when forced or left wide open, which is becoming more and more common. However, he is slowly but surely improving his three-point game as a result.

He’s brought his three-point percentage up to 37.5 percent on his 1.8 attempts per game, so he’ll keep teams honest with his steady shooting if they continue to leave him wide open. He even shot 3-5 against Boston, which led to a season-high ten points.

With the Spurs struggling for points, they need Lyles to let loose more often and start blending this newfound energetic playstyle with his old playmaking and stretchability that he showed back in his college days at Kentucky.

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He’s been a steady hand so far. But a player who disappears offensively as often as he has can’t be counted on day in, day out. Especially with the Spurs’ offensive woes. If he can add some meat to his barebones game, he’ll be a true threat for the San Antonio Spurs, but otherwise, he’ll be just a role player absorbing starting minutes.

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