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Could the Lyles-Poeltl tandem be the future of the Spurs frontcourt?

SAN ANTONIO, TX - DECEMBER 13: Jakob Poeltl #25 of the San Antonio Spurs grabs a rebound next to Montrezl Harrell #5 of the Los Angeles Clippers at AT&T Center on December 13, 2018 in San Antonio, Texas. 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. (Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images)
SAN ANTONIO, TX - DECEMBER 13: Jakob Poeltl #25 of the San Antonio Spurs grabs a rebound next to Montrezl Harrell #5 of the Los Angeles Clippers at AT&T Center on December 13, 2018 in San Antonio, Texas. 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. (Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images)
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Could the tandem of Trey Lyles and Jakob Poeltl be the future of the San Antonio Spurs frontcourt? There’s reason to believe they could be.

All together there weren’t that many positives that came out of the San Antonio Spurs underwhelming season. We hardly ever got to see Lonnie Walker step into the starting lineup, were subjected to far too much Marco Belinelli for many fans liking, and rarely got to see the teams top two guards share the court.

One positive thing that we can take away from this season is the continuing emergence of two of the teams more promising frontcourt players. Both Trey Lyles and Jakob Poeltl had solid seasons this year.

While Lyles made a mark in his first season as a consistent starter and 3-point threat, Poeltl continued to prove that he can be one of the best rim protectors in the league. Individually they were both two of the more impressive players on the team this season, but what could they do together?

Just by name recognition alone, most casual NBA fans wouldn’t think that you could build a team around the duo but the numbers would tell you otherwise. The Spurs struggled immensely this year but the two young forwards played quite well in their limited time together.

Of the San Antonio duos to share the floor for more than 150 minutes this season, Lyles and Poeltl had the highest net rating. The team outscored its opponents by 16.3 points per 100 possessions when they shared the floor.

Lyles’s presence on the team was a major reason why we saw Poeltl take on a larger role as a member of the second unit instead of appearing in the starting lineup. Lyles all but supplanted him as LaMarcus Aldridge‘s partner in the frontcourt, largely thanks to his shooting ability from deep.

The Spurs coaching staff worked with Lyles to improve his shot selection, making good three’s a bigger part of his game than ever before. An impressive 49 percent of Lyles’s field goal attempts came from behind the arc this season, a new career-best. We also saw him knock down a career-high 38.7 percent of his long-range attempts.

https://videos.nba.com/nba/pbp/media/2019/11/07/0021900113/364/ba688cb2-0b02-693c-b071-a61f2c0e47fe_1280x720.mp4

Trey’s ability to space the floor makes playing him with Poeltl a real option going forward. Poeltl doesn’t have much of an offensive game outside of the paint so pairing him with a floor-spacing partner in the frontcourt is a near necessity if the Spurs guards are going to have the room they need to be effective.

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A skilled roll man who works quite well with San Antonio’s guards, Poeltl could work in pick and roll situations with one of the point guards with Lyle’s spotting up in the corner for open looks like he is in the clip above. Lyles was hitting an impressive 45.7 percent of his corner three’s this year so defenses are going to pay if they continue to leave him open from there.

LaMarcus Aldridge still has some gas left in the tank but he’s approaching the last year of his contract and has made it clear that he’s okay with moving on from San Antonio if the team does want to go young. The Spurs don’t need to do anything right now but they should be thinking heavily about what the future of their frontcourt looks like.

San Antonio’s coaching staff doesn’t need to roll out a starting lineup featuring Lyles and Poeltl as the regular starters anytime soon but the numbers suggest that the two could be an effective pair. It’s something worth exploring whenever the NBA does resume.

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As they try to figure out what their future looks like the San Antonio Spurs should be exploring every option to improve. Playing their promising combination of forwards together with Dejoutne Murray and Derrick White could be the answer, or it might not be. Either way, it deserves more investigation by the coaching staff.

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