Jakob Poeltl wants a larger role and could leave the San Antonio Spurs to find it
One of the most frustrating parts of the San Antonio Spurs tumultuous 2019-20 season was the team’s inability to find success when their two stars were on the court. Neither one of DeMar DeRozan or LaMarcus Aldridge finished the season with a positive on/off rating, leading many to question if the Spurs should continue to view them as the future of the franchise.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, we were all thrilled to see Jakob Poeltl‘s continued development, especially on the defensive end. Poeltl still has room to improve on offense but in his second season with the Spurs, he was able to establish himself as one of the league’s most impressive defensive-minded big men.
The Spurs struggled defensively on the perimeter, opposing guards frequently found their way to the rim with little difficulty. Thankfully, Poeltl was there to meet them. In his second season with San Antonio, Jakob led the Spurs in block percentage (7.7 percent) and blocks per 100 possessions (4.2). Looking across the league, those figures helped him rank 12th in overall block percentage and 5th in the league in blocks per 100 possessions.
Without Aldridge, who will miss the rest of the regular season after undergoing surgery on his shoulder, Poeltl is an excellent position to make a statement over these final eight games. He’s one of the players we’ve highlighted who should be in line for a major role increase and could stand to make a sizeable impact on the contract extension he is up for this summer.
Even though Poeltl can make a strong impression in Orlando, he’s also recently spoken up about possibly leaving San Antonio in search of a more impactful role.
Jakob Poeltl could leave San Antonio Spurs for a bigger role elsewhere
Jeff Garcia with News 4 San Antonio recently highlighted a conversation that Poeltl had with the Austria Press Agency where he spoke on the possibility of leaving the Spurs this summer.
“I would be interested to look at least a few other options and maybe find something that fits the concept better…when it comes to my career and my development, my role and the playing time are in the foreground. Last year I expected more from myself, but also from my role and my minutes. That’s why I don’t want to play another year under similar conditions if it doesn’t have to be. I’m going into my fifth year in the NBA. I’m not saying now that from the start I expected to play 30 minutes in the fifth year, but I expected progress every year.”
Poeltl makes a great point, even though he was proving that he was one of the most efficient and impactful players on the Spurs roster that didn’t result in any meaningful changes to his playing time. He averaged 16.6 minutes per game this year, compared to 16.5 minutes per game last year, and was often supplanted in the starting lineup by newcomer Trey Lyles.
To be fair, Lyles did fit alongside LaMarcus Aldridge better than Poeltl did but it has to be frustrating for Poeltl to know he’s continuing to improve but not seeing his playing time increase accordingly.
Poeltl should be frustrated, he led the team in total win shares per 48 minutes, total box plus minutes, and was third in VORP but was hardly playing more than Marco Belinelli. Spacing issues aside, it’s inexcusable that he was utilized as infrequently as he was this year. That has to change going forward if the team wants to find success.
Anyone can understand why he wouldn’t want to play another year in similar conditions but maybe the Spurs can communicate to Poeltl that he’s part of their long term plan and that playing one more year under somewhat similar conditions might be necessary. Aldridge is approaching unrestricted free agency in the summer of 2021 and the Spurs could tell Poeltl that they view him as the future of their frontcourt after that. But there’s no assurance that they would be able to move him before then, that could mean Poelt and Aldrdige competing for minutes for one more season.
The San Antonio Spurs can match any offer that Poeltl receives this summer but it sounds like he might not be interested in staying around even if the Spurs want to keep him. This is definitely a situation to watch over the coming weeks.