Four minutes into a fill-in star, San Antonio Spurs center Jakob Poeltl suffered a right MCL sprain after colliding with Markelle Fultz.
Franchise big man LaMarcus Aldridge is already nursing a sore shoulder, so the San Antonio Spurs need to dig deep to find depth in the frontcourt now that center Jakob Poeltl is going to miss time. It was announced that Poeltl suffered a right MCL sprain early in Saturday evening’s contest against the Orlando Magic.
Poeltl, a 24-year-old center from Austria, is the Spurs’ best natural center and has been one of the team’s most valuable players in the 2019-20 season. His 7.7 percent block rate has been invaluable to a team without much depth under the rim. As the only true seven-footer on the roster, Poeltl is the team’s best interior defender and leads the Spurs in Box Plus/Minus.
Aldridge is doubtful for the Spurs’ first game of March against the Indiana Pacers, a team with an All-Star big man in Domantas Sabonis and a rising star next to him in Myles Turner. They’ll have to rely on a motley crew of players to fill in, including power forward Trey Lyles and Rudy Gay, whose natural position is small forward.
This could open up the possibility for some of the team’s young bigs to get some shine. Selected No. 19 in the 2019 NBA Draft, Luka Samanic has yet to log any time in the NBA. Maybe these injuries will force head coach Gregg Popovich’s hand, although he’s the least likely to fill-in out of the Spurs’ young bigs.
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The most promising of the bunch is Chimezie Metu, who can play both the four and five. I recently wrote about why the Spurs should give him a chance at carving a role for himself. Since then, he’s only continued to prove himself by performing excellently in the G-League. Most recently, he posted a 27-point, 17-rebound stat line in a win against the Santa Cruz Warriors.
Last night, two-way center Drew Eubanks soaked up his minutes and performed well. He finished with 10 points and three rebounds in 16 minutes and even stepped outside for a corner triple. The restrictions of his contract could get in the way, but Eubanks is certainly a contender to hit the hardwood in Poeltl’s place.
There’s no official timeline placed on Poeltl’s return yet, but there’s a chance we don’t see him again this year depending on the severity.
He enters restricted free agency this summer, and it would be surprising for the Spurs to let him walk given how well he has progressed in limited action in San Antonio.