San Antonio Spurs: DeMarre Carroll could be a serious difference-maker

SAN ANTONIO, TX - NOVEMBER 7: DeMarre Carroll #77 of the San Antonio Spurs drives to the basket against the Oklahoma City Thunder on November 7, 2019 at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas. 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 License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photos by Logan Riely/NBAE via Getty Images)
SAN ANTONIO, TX - NOVEMBER 7: DeMarre Carroll #77 of the San Antonio Spurs drives to the basket against the Oklahoma City Thunder on November 7, 2019 at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas. 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 License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photos by Logan Riely/NBAE via Getty Images)
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After starting off the year winning only 35.7% percent of their games, the San Antonio Spurs needs to get forward DeMarre Carroll involved.

One of the first moves of the 2019 free agency period for the San Antonio Spurs was to secure a deal with two-way forward DeMarre Carroll from Brooklyn. After two seasons with the resurgent Brooklyn Nets, learning from head coach Kenny Atkinson – a disciple of former-Spur Mike Budenholzer– Carroll showed the world that he can be an impactful player.

Now that Carroll has landed in the Alamo City, it seems that head coach and franchise patriarch Gregg Popovich is hesitant to let the new addition run. This is a bashful move considering the Spurs give up 114.6 points per game, making them the ninth-worst defensive team in the league.

Popovich has earned the right to make decisions however he’d like to. It seems foolish to question his thinking as the championship coach has led this organization to success every season for the past 22 years. While I rightfully admit that Pop has more basketball knowledge in his pinky toe than I do overall, I think it’s fair to say that the Spurs will be better off with Carroll on the floor.

There hasn’t been very much to explain Popovich’s hesitancy to play Carroll, but he needs to stop being stubborn sooner rather than later.

Six of the Spurs’ top nine offensive two-man lineups feature Carroll up to this point in the season with various combinations fitting due to his versatility. With the ability to play on the wing at either forward position, Carroll is a physical and thoughtful defender who has the ability to guard any position on a single possession.

San Antonio’s defensive intensity has been lackluster. Carroll was brought in to bring some gritty defensive play while adding some floor spacing and unselfish play on the other end, and the Spurs direly need his help in order to get back on track.

He logged eight minutes off the bench in the Spurs’ most recent loss against Dallas and finished at with a +7 plus/minus with three points, three boards and a steal – three categories where the Spurs could use his output on a more consistent basis. The 33-year-old played some helpful defense while matched up against newcomer Kristaps Porzingis and hit a trailing three off a pass from DeMar DeRozan to help the Spurs mount a comeback.

Related Story. Making the case for DeMarre Carroll as a perfect fit

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If he can prove himself, Carroll should take over some of the minutes occupied by Marco Belinelli and Trey Lyles currently. Considering how poorly Belinelli has shot the ball this season, it’s safe to say that Carroll would be a considerable upgrade even in spite of the advanced stats that favor Belinelli for his floor spacing.

San Antonio gave the veteran forward a three-year deal this offseason, so they might as well take advantage of his presence while he’s got fresh legs. If Popovich gives him the chance to build chemistry with these teammates and find his way in the team’s system, Carroll has the potential to come in and start for this team.

It’s possible that Pop wants to save Carroll as a trick up his sleeve for later on in the year, but San Antonio cannot afford to keep losing if they hope to return to the postseason. Losing certainly isn’t the Spurs way and Carroll hasn’t been treated the way he should be as one of the team’s top additions of the offseason.

Three lineup adjustments to save the Spurs' season. Next

It’s time to beef up the Spurs’ defensive units and get Carroll involved.

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