The San Antonio Spurs have toyed around with many lineups this year, but what if I told you there’s a hidden trio that could save them from themselves?
Whether you like it or not, the San Antonio Spurs aren’t a playoff-lock like they used to be. At one time the pinnacle of playoff contention; an unrequited force of nature that the rest of the NBA aspired to be, head coach Gregg Popovich is working with a shell of what he once had and a group whose identity has yet to be unraveled.
As a casualty of this status, the Spurs’ young core has yet to be fully unleashed upon the NBA. Though the four major players – Dejounte Murray, Derrick White, Lonnie Walker IV and Jakob Poeltl – have settled into their roles in the rotation, none of them have full control of the offense. But maybe they should?
It’s no secret that the Spurs win games with their depth. Utilizing an adept second-unit with zippy ball movement and fast-paced action, San Antonio extends leads with its bench and rotates players throughout the contest to push back against the opposition.
However, this limits White, Walker and Poeltl to the bench, when statistics suggest that this trio should play together more often.
The three-man line-up of Poeltl, Walker, and White is one of the Spurs’ most potent both offensively and defensively, boasting a +23 net rating in 146 minutes across 14 games. They produce an offensive rating higher than the league-leading Dallas Mavericks at 118.7 – Dallas is at 116.4 – and a defensive rating lower than the league-leading Milwaukee Bucks (101.2) at 95.7.
You may be scratching your head in bewilderment at this one because it’s obvious to anyone who watches that none of these players are currently better than the team’s leading scorers in LaMarcus Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan. However, this triad of two-way hounds epitomizes the classical Spurs qualities of unselfishness, team-first mentality and methodical execution.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to compare these players’ talent to that of the big three, but Derrick brings a little bit of Tony, Jakob brings a little bit of Timmy and Lonnie brings a little bit of Manu to the table.