It’s time for the San Antonio Spurs to fully commit to their young guards
By Ethan Farina
The San Antonio Spurs have some of the most exciting young guards in the league and it’s time they started playing together.
When the San Antonio Spurs were struggling last year it took the insertion of Derrick White into the starting lineup to give them the spark they need. White took over a starting role in early December and helped push them back into playoff contention as the season went on.
This year a lot of positive coverage around the Spurs has been focused on the return of Dejounte Murray and the emergence of Lonnie Walker. Murray started the season averaging a near triple-double per 36 minutes. Since then he’s gone back and forth between starting and coming off the bench but has started in both games since he’s been fully cleared to play without a minutes restriction.
Lonnie Walker is the Spurs Twitter favorite who electrified the fanbase with his breakout game in the Spurs double-overtime victory over the Houston Rockets two weeks ago. Since then he has received more consistent playing time but is still not getting the run that many feel he deserves.
Together the trio makes up one of the most exciting young guard groups in the league and yet they hardly ever see the floor together. White and Murray have only played 15 minutes together and the three have shared the floor for just 4 minutes all year. As San Antonio continues to struggle to string together wins it’s time to throw caution to the wind and go all-in on the young guards.
White and Murray are easily the Spurs’ best perimeter defenders. Given the issues that San Antonio has had defending on the perimeter, it’s baffling that they’ve only logged 15 minutes together over the course of the season.
At the beginning of the season, there was speculation over whether the two would ever be able to coexist in the same lineup due to concerns over spacing. Those fears have been dispelled over the first two months of the season. White has taken major steps forward in his long-distance shooting and has become a real threat from deep.
He is now the second most accurate Spur from behind the arc, connecting on 40 percent of his three-point attempts. Given that accuracy, it’s surprising to see that he’s only attempting 2.3 three’s per game. San Antonio is last in the league in three-point shots attempted, they desperately need White to let it fly more often.
Both White and Murray are equally comfortable handling the ball and initiating the offense. White’s improvement as a shooter makes him a legitimate off-ball threat and playing the two together is now a more viable option than ever before.
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When they have shared the floor they’re posting an offensive rating of 115.2 and a defensive rating of 85.7. There’s not a lot to go off of but it’s enough to validate the argument that these two should be playing together more often.
Just as promising but less utilized has been the lineup of Murray, White, and Walker. It bears repeating that the three most promising players on the team have played in only four minutes together all season long. In those four minutes, they’ve had a net rating of +22.2.
Lonnie Walker is just behind White as the third most accurate three-point shooter on the team. Walker is hitting 39 percent of his three-point attempts this year. Between him and White, there would be enough three-point shooting in this trio to keep defenses from clogging the lanes and preventing Murray from attacking the rim.
Along with White and Murray, Walker is one of the best perimeter defenders that the Spurs have. San Antonio has a 101.5 defensive rating when he is on the floor compared to a112.3 rating when he sits. Lonnie is without question the most athletically gifted player on the roster right now. His impact on the defensive end should only increase as he continues to get more comfortable and learns better how to use his otherworldly athleticism to disrupt opposing offenses.
San Antonio isn’t winning the championship this year, that much is clear. Heck, they might not even make the playoffs. If this is the year that the historic streak of playoff appearances snaps I bet most would rather see it end in the hands of the players who will be the future of the team rather than by mid-range shots taken by guys who will be gone in a few years.
Lonnie Walker, Dejounte Murray, and Derrick White are the future of the San Antonio Spurs. It’s about time we see what that future looks like playing together.