As the San Antonio Spurs struggle to find ways to win it’s time they reconsider the role Bryn Forbes plays on the team.
The San Antonio Spurs have a history of taking underappreciated or cast-off players and turning them into great pieces of successful teams. Players like Bruce Bowen and Manu Ginobili are the most well known of these stories but there are a few guys on the roster today who have risen from the fringes of the NBA to success with the Spurs. Bryn Forbes is one of these success stories.
After going undrafted out of Michigan State, Forbes quickly established himself as a deadeye shooter with the Spurs. He’s carved out a niche for himself as one of the Spurs’ most accurate three-point threats and has taken major steps forward in his first four years with the team.
Along with DeMar DeRozan, Forbes is the only member of the Spurs to start in every game this season. It’s a continuation from last year when Forbes was tied with LaMarcus Aldridge for the most starts on the team. He’s nothing if not durable.
Gregg Popovich has shown a willingness to experiment with starting lineups over the last few weeks. Maybe it’s time to reconsider Forbes’s role as a starter and think about bringing him off the bench as a spark plug gunner.
At his best, Forbes is a premier long-range threat, capable of getting scorching hot and drowning opponents in a barrage of three-pointers. A perfect example of this is the Spurs’ recent loss to the Houston Rockets. In that game, Forbes was a perfect six for six from behind the arc in the first half. But when he isn’t hitting his shots, Forbes weaknesses put a serious strain on the Spurs.
The problems come up on the defensive end. Whether he is matched up with shooting or point guards, Forbes finds himself frequently overmatched on defense. San Antonio takes steps to mitigate this by switching Dejounte Murray or Derrick White on to the more threatening of the opposing team’s guards but that can only take you so far.
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When Forbes is on the court the Spurs have a defensive rating of 114.4 which is 28th in the NBA. When he sits they skyrocket to a defensive rating of 105.5, a rating that would have them tied for 10th.
Two things have been consistent across the season for the San Antonio Spurs, their struggles on the defensive end and Bryn’s presence in the starting lineup. Now correlation doesn’t equal causation and Forbes alone is not responsible for the defensive struggles that have plagued San Antonio all season long.
That said, San Antonio has two dynamic defensive guards in White and Walker and yet they hardly ever playing together. The two have shared the floor with Lonnie Walker even less frequently and he may have the greatest defensive potential of the three. Together they could be a true force on the defensive end, and yet the coaching staff has to experiment with playing them together.
It’s frustrating to see Forbes locked in as a fixture in the starting lineup while he continues to get torched on the defensive end. Bringing him off the bench and letting him focus solely on getting buckets in a Lou Williams sort of role could help the Spurs find the balance between getting the most out of him on offense and limiting the liability he brings on defense.
As trade discussions continue to heat up, including Forbes in deals should not be off the table for San Antonio. He’s been a valuable piece of the team over the past four years but he’s also going to be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season and could walk away if the Spurs don’t put forward a suitable offer. Better to trade him away this season and get some assets in return than to see him walk away for nothing when the season is over.
San Antonio should be exploring all options to help turn this season around. Revaluating Bryn’s role in the rotation, and on the team, should be in play. The San Antonio Spurs find themselves approaching a difficult crossroads, tough decisions may have to be made and no player should be immune from scrutiny.