3 Rotation adjustments the Spurs should try after All-Star break

DENVER, CO - FEBRUARY 10: The San Antonio Spurs huddle up during a game against the Denver Nuggets on February 10, 2020 at the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado. 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 2020 NBAE (Photo by Bart Young/NBAE via Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - FEBRUARY 10: The San Antonio Spurs huddle up during a game against the Denver Nuggets on February 10, 2020 at the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado. 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 2020 NBAE (Photo by Bart Young/NBAE via Getty Images)
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DENVER, CO – FEBRUARY 10: The San Antonio Spurs huddle up during a game against the Denver Nuggets on February 10, 2020 at the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Bart Young/NBAE via Getty Images)
DENVER, CO – FEBRUARY 10: The San Antonio Spurs huddle up during a game against the Denver Nuggets on February 10, 2020 at the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Bart Young/NBAE via Getty Images)

After a recent stretch of losses, it’s time for the San Antonio Spurs to think about changing up the rotations. Here are three adjustments that would help.

Originally set on making the playoffs, the San Antonio Spurs now look bound for the lottery. They’re three and eight over their past eleven games and have sunk far out of playoff contention.

Even as the Spurs have struggled, head coach Gregg Popovich has gone with the same starters night after night. No matter the defensive issues, he seems committed to keeping his starters together.

It was fun to see Lonnie Walker get two more starts just before the All-Star break but that won’t be a regular thing once DeMar DeRozan is healthy. And no matter how much we complain about the mistakes Bryn Forbes makes on defense his spot in the starting lineup looks secure.

Even without disrupting the starting lineup there are quite a few rotation adjustments that could be made to help the San Antonio Spurs now and down the road. If the team continues to struggle it will be interesting to see what kind of changes Pop will be willing to make.

If nothing else, these three rotation adjustments would be a nice change of pace and could make games more exciting.

Next: Play Dejounte Murray and Derrick White together

SAN ANTONIO, TX – JANUARY 29: Dejounte Murray #5 of the San Antonio Spurs congratulates Derrick White #4 late in second half action at AT&T Center (Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images)
SAN ANTONIO, TX – JANUARY 29: Dejounte Murray #5 of the San Antonio Spurs congratulates Derrick White #4 late in second half action at AT&T Center (Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images)

Play Dejounte Murray and Derrick White together

Gregg Popovich has been pretty consistent in his refusal to play Dejounte Murray and Derrick White together. Even though they’ve shown promise in their limited minutes together, Pop’s typically stuck to a one for one swap when subbing White in.

When they have played together it’s been fun to see the Spurs two young guards playing off of one another. They’ve been effective too, they’ve got a net rating of +9 in their limited minutes.

They’ve both improved as shooters, Murray is up to near 38 percent on the year with White sitting slightly lower at 35 percent. The improved shooting has made the spacing concerns that existed at the beginning of the season a lesser issue. They both knock enough down from behind the arc to keep defenses honest and both are comfortable in the mid-range as well.

Together they’re a defensive nightmare, both able to defend one through three. Even when Pop talked to RJ Marquez of KSAT about the potential of the duo he made sure to note their defense.

“They compliment each other pretty good. Two guys that are willing to pass. Make pretty good decisions. They play good defense, so we have a pretty good tandem there.”

These two look like the future of the San Antonio Spurs so let’s see what they can do together. It’d be a win-win for the present and the future of the team.

Next: Give Keldon Johnson some minutes

CEDAR PARK, TX – FEBRUARY 9: Keldon Johnson #0 of the Austin Spurs leaps to the basket against Andrew Harrison #33, Roger Moute A Bidias #25 and Andrew Harrison #33 of the Santa Cruz Warriors during a NBA G-League game (Photo by Chris Covatta/NBAE via Getty Images)
CEDAR PARK, TX – FEBRUARY 9: Keldon Johnson #0 of the Austin Spurs leaps to the basket against Andrew Harrison #33, Roger Moute A Bidias #25 and Andrew Harrison #33 of the Santa Cruz Warriors during a NBA G-League game (Photo by Chris Covatta/NBAE via Getty Images)

Give Keldon Johnson a few minutes

Dylan Carter wrote a more in-depth piece earlier this week where he made a strong case for bringing Keldon Johnson up from Austin. If the Spurs continue to struggle and the eighth seed is longer a mathematical possibility it’d be a good move to let the rookie get a taste of NBA action.

He’s seen the floor in a few NBA games but they’ve been the bottom of the barrel in terms of garbage time minutes. He’s played in twelve minutes all year and shot the ball a grand total of five times. If the Spurs have nothing to lose it shouldn’t be out of the question to play Johnson twelve minutes per game.

Johnson’s proven that he can get it done in the G-League, making the Western Conference Mid-Season All-G-League team while with the Austin Spurs. He’s been an efficient scorer, averaging 20 points per game on 52 percent shooting. He uses his quick first step and a solid frame to attack the rim with ease.

Most of his points come from closer to the rim where he can finish through players much smaller than the ones he would face in the NBA. Even if his offense contribution is minimal Johnson would bring a defensive intensity that’s much needed.

He plays with full intensity at all times, frequently making hustle plays like diving for loose balls and getting deflections. His high motor and impressive 6’9 wingspan will make him a disruptor on defense whenever he’s on the floor.

If the playoffs are out of the picture it makes no sense to keep Johnson on the bench. He’s shown what he can do in the G-League, let’s see what he does on a bigger stage.

Next: Give the people what they want

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – JULY 10: Luka Samanic #19 of San Antonio Spurs in action against the Phoenix Suns during the 2019 Summer League at the Cox Pavilion on July 10, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – JULY 10: Luka Samanic #19 of San Antonio Spurs in action against the Phoenix Suns during the 2019 Summer League at the Cox Pavilion on July 10, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

Luka Samanic makes his NBA debut

Staying with adjustments to make if the playoffs are clearly out of reach, how about letting Luka Samanic make his NBA debut? Similar to Johnson, he’s been playing well in the G-League. Not well enough to make any mid-season team but well enough that he’s earned a shot.

In his 31 games in the G-Leauge, he’s averaged around 15 points per game and has looked like the Intriguing prospect that Spurs fans hoped he would be when San Antonio took him with the 19th pick.  He’s shown that he can space the floor and has been a nice threat in transition.

He’s hasn’t been as consistent as Johnson has but Samanic’s ability to score from all over the floor indicates he might be a better scoring option long term.

On defense, he’s had some impressive blocks in his rookie year. It’ll be something that he’ll have to work on but he’s shown a willingness to meet opponents at the rim. He will need to put on some muscle before he’s ready to challenge other forwards in the Western Conference but at least he’s got the drive.

Can you imagine a lineup featuring Dejounte Murray, Derrick White, Lonnie Walker, Keldon Johnson, and Samanic? Regardless of whether it works or not that’s something I think Spurs fans would love to see at least one time before the season is over.

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Playing White and Murray together is the only one of these adjustments that would help the Spurs make the playoffs. If that’s no longer an option the coaching staff should throw the playbook out the window and just let the young guys run.

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