It’s sad to say, but the best option that the San Antonio Spurs have to make a run at the playoffs is to reduce the role of starting guard Bryn Forbes.
From as early as the first game of the season, it was evident that the San Antonio Spurs were going to suffer on the defensive end with Bryn Forbes starting at the two-guard. At just 6-foot-3 without strong defensive instincts or a high motor, Forbes isn’t built to play significant minutes matched up against players at his position.
San Antonio’s peculiar roster construction has forced plenty of players out of their natural positions to accommodate team needs. With the team’s leading scorer, DeMar DeRozan starting at small forward, head coach Gregg Popovich has slotted Forbes next to the non-shooter to space the floor for his go-to ball-handler. With a 63-game sample size to back it up, it’s become evident that Forbes’ one-dimensional playstyle is detrimental to the team.
From a chemistry standpoint, this team has developed a level of synchronicity that will transcend what we’ve seen up to this point. The 27-36 Spurs have a winning record in games when Forbes plays fewer than 24 minutes including victories over Miami, Toronto, Utah, Dallas and the LA Clippers. Needless to say, putting him back on the bench and giving more time to some of the younger guys will bode well for them.
Statistically speaking, Forbes makes the San Antonio Spurs worse.
By a landslide, the worst defensive team in the league this season is the Washington Wizards. They rank last in defensive rating at 115.0 and have the second-worst defended field goal percentage in the league. When the Spurs have Forbes on the floor, their 24th ranked defensive rating skyrockets to 118.0, meaning they’re the worst defensive team in the league when Forbes is on the floor.
With that known, the Spurs have allocated 1,579 minutes to the shooting guard this season which ranks third on the team. For reference, Forbes has played more than double the amount of minutes that sophomore Lonnie Walker IV has this season and plays more than both Dejounte Murray and Derrick White.
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For the Spurs to have any chance at saving their playoff streak and battling into the postseason in Orlando, they need to make a change in the lineup. Forbes is in that role as a volume 3-point shooter but has a lower true shooting percentage than three other perimeter players who play significant minutes for the silver and black.
Thus far through the season, it may be a blow to Forbes’ confidence to hear that he’s getting pulled from the starting five. It’s nothing personal, but it’s become way too obvious that Forbes is detrimental to the team. Floor spacing is hugely important and while Forbes may draw defenders further away from the paint because of his 3-point prowess, that’s not something that needs to be magnified for the Spurs to win.
San Antonio’s biggest faults have come on defense and through hustle categories like steals and rebounds. Those are areas that Forbes flutters in, so stashing him away on the bench and masking him in the rotation by putting him alongside White, Walker and Murray would be a better way of utilizing his skill than forcing him into a role that exposes his faults.
Even if it leads to Forbes’ departure from the River City as an unrestricted free agent this offseason, then so be it. The first and only priority needs to be this opportunity to set the NBA record for consecutive playoff appearances by a single franchise.