The first round of the San Antonio Spurs Role Player Bracket Challenge was par for the course with the exception of one matchup that came down to the very end.
Kicking off the Role Player Bracket Challenge on Saturday afternoon was a roaring success. We had an average of 169 votes on our polls deciding the first round of matchups in the top left section of the bracket, which contained San Antonio Spurs forwards.
Our most resounding victory came in the 2 vs. 15 matchup with fan-favorite Frenchman Boris Diaw dominating one-and-done Spur David West. Diaw, who spent five seasons of his career in the Alamo City from 2012-2016, played 331 games in the silver and black. His best season as a Spur was during the 2014 championship run, during which he played 25 minutes per game and shot incredibly well from the floor.
Early trends indicate that recency bias is at play in these polls as older Spurs like Mark Olberding and Jerome Kersey get killed in the fan-vote. This was to be expected, but hopefully seeing their names will entice Spurs fans to look back at their legacies in San Antonio.
The most riveting matchup we’ve seen so far was between seventh-seed Dennis Rodman and 10th seed Davis Bertans. This is the closest finish we’ve seen thus far with Bertans edging out Rodman by 3.4 percent of votes. Even though Rodman’s time in San Antonio was shortlived, he was a menace on both sides of the floor during that time.
Stay tuned to vote on your favorite Spurs wings beginning at 4:00 CST on our Twitter account. The bracket will be updated once all four sides of the bracket have been completed for the first round. Furthermore, the bracket will be updated to reflect more realistic matchups based on seeding. For example, the first and second seeds will no longer face each other in the second round, allowing for a final matchup that everyone can be excited for.
Next: Sending off some Spurs legends too soon
Remembering our first-round exits
Our first five Spurs role players to make their exit include one player who’s currently on the team in forward Trey Lyles. While the fifth-year big man has made strides in his first season with San Antonio, Lyles hasn’t made enough of an impact to stand a chance against the No. 1 seed, Robert Horry.
Lyles is averaging 6.4 points and 5.7 rebounds in 20 minutes per game this season but has really come alive in more recent games. Now that he’s gelling with the rest of the lineup, Lyles seems to have found a home within the Spurs’ offense. He’ll have time to climb in these rankings once the season resumes.
Former Spurs assistant coach Ime Udoka was two-fold on this list. He wasn’t the greatest player during his 160 games in San Antonio, as he didn’t get off the bench all too often. However, his impact came on the bench, where his methodical mind and innovative thought that he applied to the game helped the Spurs win.
Udoka later transitioned to a new role on the bench as a coach, applying all of his knowledge to help his teammates improve. He lost to Fabricio Oberto as a fourteenth seed because of his lack of importance on the court, but Udoka still managed to put up a better fight than four other contestants.
I already mentioned Olbdering and Kersey, who lost as 13 and 12 seeds respectively, but one player who had real upset-potential was Antoine Carr. He averaged 10.8 points, 4.2 boards and 1.1 blocks in more than 4,000 minutes in San Antonio between 1991-94. He played off of legendary center David Robinson and went on to play in Utah next to Karl Malone.
Carr was matched up against four-year Spur, DeJuan Blair, who was a homegrown product that returned to the Austin Spurs last season for the love of the game. He’s a spirited player who’s known for making the league without an ACL in either knee.
The eight vs. nine seed matchup between Antonio McDyess and Danny Ferry wasn’t particularly close with Ferry getting eliminated by a 40 percent margin. Ferry was a moderately talented role player who would perform well in spurts during the early-2000’s, but McDyess was more pivotal to the team’s success and edged out his competition with relative ease.
Next: Moving on up!
Celebrating our first-round champs
This was a relatively easy round for the favored players. Only one underdog secured more than 30 percent of the votes with the only upset being The Latvian Laser, Davis Bertans, securing a victory.
In what’ll go down as one of the biggest blunders in recent Spurs history, Bertans was unceremoniously traded away last summer to make space for Marcus Morris, who never showed up. The career-41.1 percent shooter is clearly missed, especially with floor spacing being an issue with the 2019-20 Spurs.
The only current Spur to win was Rudy Gay, who took Olberding out by a near-90 percent throttling. Gay has been with the team for three seasons now and is signed on for at least one more next year, leaving his mark as a wonderful teammate and versatile scorer. Gay has done everything the team has asked of him and fans have a ton of respect for him as a result.
International players reigned supreme in this one with all four of them cleaning up. Argentinian big man Fabricio Oberto was only in the NBA for six seasons and won one championship as the team’s starting five in 2007. His connection with another beloved Argentinian, Manu Ginobili, made him a perfect fit for the Spurs at the height of their powers.
Diaw dominated as the biggest winner of the forwards in this round, but right behind him was eight-year Spur Malik Rose, who saw the team at its highs and lows. Rose was never the best player on the team, capping out at 10.4 points per game in his best season, 2002-03. Even so, he meant a lot to the culture and spirit of the team and is being rewarded for it in the tournament.
Next: Polling Day 2 - Wings
Round One, Day Two – Wings
Now that Day 1 has concluded, we’re on to the second round of matchups. Today we’re going to take a look at 16 wings, including small forwards and shooting guards, who left their marks on Spurs history. These role players include Three-and-D specialists, fan favorites, up-and-comers and some of the team’s greatest athletes.
This, in my opinion, is one of the hardest brackets to decide. Right off the bat, we have to decide between the first-seed, a Spurs legend and one of the voices of Spurs basketball in Sean Elliott versus the fan-favorite sophomore Lonnie Walker IV. They don’t get much easier as the bracket continues on.
The first-round matchups in the win section of the bracket are as follows:
1. Sean Elliott vs. 16. Lonnie Walker IV
— Air Alamo (@AirAlamo) March 22, 2020
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San Antonio has cycled through many players to play off of their stars, Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Robinson. Some of them are homegrown and others were brought along in free agency and through trades, which will assuredly influence the way that some people will vote.
No one said this was going to be easy! San Antonio has had some really beloved players in the many years since moving from Dallas to the Alamo City. Picking between them to decide who’s the greatest in the view of the fans can lead you to some daunting decisions between players you’ve rooted for. This round is going to be one of the toughest, there’s no two ways about it.
Some of the players in question are going to be lesser-known, like Anderson and Elie, but I implore you to take a look at their legacies in the silver and black before making your decisions.
We’ll check back in tomorrow to update you on the results and outcomes from this portion of the bracket!