These three San Antonio Spurs have the most to prove in Orlando
When the San Antonio Spurs do finally take the court in Orlando in late July they’re going to be one of the teams in the field of 22 with the most to prove. Because of their underwhelming performance this year many have called this the end of one of the greatest runs in modern sports. It’ll be up to the Spurs to prove them wrong.
San Antonio has been running through season after season, tallying 50 wins like clockwork, and making the season so consistently that it’s become the norm to see them in the postseason. Seeing them struggle so much this year has been hard for the fans to watch and it’s surely been just as difficult for the players to go through.
It won’t be easy for the Spurs to find their way back to the playoffs. They’re facing an uphill battle and without LaMarcus Aldrdige it’s going to be incredibly difficult for the Spurs to get through their murderer’s row of a schedule.
It’s not just the Spurs who have something to prove. There are plenty of guys on the team who came up short this year and could use these final eight games of the season to wrap things up on a positive note and try to ride that momentum into the 2020-21 season. Some of them have potential contract extensions riding on their performance in Florida.
Here are the three San Antonio Spurs with the most to prove when the team takes the court in Orlando.
Next: The unrestricted free agent
Bryn Forbes has a lot to prove when the San Antonio Spurs resume play
Throughout the season Bryn Forbes was a frequent target of Spurs fan’s frustration. Even though he served a valuable role as one of the team’s few reliable 3-point shooters he was more frequently criticized for his shortcomings on defense.
Hand up, we’ve been just as hard on Forbes as the rest of the fanbase. But now he’s got eight games to prove us and a large portion of Spurs fans wrong. He can use these final few contests to prove that he’s a key part of the future of the Spurs and should be given a solid contract extension this summer.
As Dylan Carter pointed out in his call for a reduction of Bryn’s minutes, the Spurs become the worst defensive team in the league when Forbes is on the court. They’re not great when he sits either but when he’s on the floor they’ve given up 118 points per 100 possessions, the worst mark in the season by 3 points.
To prove Spurs fans wrong Bryn doesn’t have to suddenly change into Gary Payton, he just has to not be the worst defender on the team. If he can play even slightly below average defense he can help the Spurs make some noise in Orlando.
Another thing that Forbes could work on over the final eight games should be becoming more consistent from deep. He’s got games where he can be scorching hot from behind the arc but there were also 28 instances this year where he shot worse than 33 percent from deep, including several performances where he went 1 for 8 or 1 for 9 from behind the arc.
There’s something to be said about not losing confidence even when you’re cold but if Forbes could cut down on the games where he continues to chuck three’s even when it’s not his night it would go a long way in improving his image in the mind of Spurs fans.
Next: Another guard up for an extension
Derrick White has a lot to prove when the San Antonio Spurs resume play
When the San Antonio Spurs signed Dejounte Murray to a 4-year/$64 million dollar extension this past summer it was a clear sign from the franchise that they were going to bet their future on their young point guard. Now almost one year later the Spurs front office is approaching a similar point with Derrick White.
It’s not so much a question of ‘if’ the Spurs will sign White to an extension but rather ‘when’ and for how much. He’s more than proven that he should be considered a franchise building block.
White’s defense is going to be one of the key factors in determining San Antonio’s playoff chances when the team does return to action. He’s become one of the teams best defenders, and one of the best defensive guards in the league, all while being stuck in a bench role.
Even though White played significantly less than other league leaders such as James Harden and Jayson Tatum, White was still able to lead all guards in total blocks this year. He was also third in the league among guards in contested shots, another sign of his defensive skill.
Spurs fans know how good White is so it’s been frustrating to see him stuck in a bench role, especially when you think about how dynamic of a pair he and Dejounte Murray could form. The Spurs coaching staff should use some of these final eight games to play the two together for long stretches and see how things work out.
If the team is able to find success with a combination of White and Murray then they shouldn’t hesitate to offer White an extension right in line with what they agreed to with Dejounte last summer.
Next: The rookie
Keldon Johnson has a lot to prove when the San Antonio Spurs resume play
In the final four games before the season was first suspended we finally got to see Keldon Johnson carve out a decent role in the rotation. It wasn’t much but it was enough to prove that the Spurs have found themselves another solid late-round pick.
Given the Spurs slim chances at making the playoffs, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to continue to have Johnson in a featured role. As Brian Wright recently told Jeff Garcia with News 4 San Antonio, that’s something that the team is aware of and hinted at what’s to come in these next few games.
“It’s a great opportunity for them obviously to continue playing, continue development. I think in the last few weeks of the season, you got to see a little bit of Keldon Johnson and what he brings to the table. Those games are important for us to evaluate but for them to continue to grow.”
Letting the young players play together and using the next games as a kind of test kitchen to see what works and what doesn’t is a solid approach by the front office and coaching staff. Making the playoffs would be great but not if it comes at the cost of reverting back to sticking Johnson on the bench.
If Johnson does continue to play solid minutes it would be encouraging to see him continue to work on knocking down three’s. Throughout his time in the G-League and a few games in the NBA, we’ve seen that he’s more than capable of putting his head down and getting to the rim. The next step in his development is filling out his scoring ability by proving that he can knock down open three’s when called upon.
The whole San Antonio Spurs team will be coming into Orlando with a chip on their shoulders but these three have a little bit more to prove than the rest.