Trey Lyles has proved he deserves to be a part of the San Antonio Spurs future
About a year ago the San Antonio Spurs were in the midst of the well documented Marcus Morris debacle that took a lead pipe to their summer plans. They traded away Davis Bertans to make room for Morris, only to have him break faith at the last minute and head to the Knicks. The whole deal left a bad taste in the mouth of Spurs fans but wasn’t without its silver linings.
When the Spurs signed Trey Lyles last summer it was largely an afterthought. The former Kentucky Wildcat had been in the league for four years at that point, splitting his time between the Utah Jazz and Denver Nuggets. He had been solid but unspectacular. Frankly, we thought he would come in and fill a reserve role as a stretch four behind Rudy Gay and DeMarre Carroll.
Clearly things didn’t pan out as we had expected. Gay reverted to more of a bench role and Carroll remained firmly nailed to the bench until he was bought out. Meanwhile, Lyles quietly supplanted Jakob Poeltl in the starting lineup and started 53 games in his first season in San Antonio.
Given the low expectations that most of us had for Lyles in his first season with the team, we can call this year a resounding success. He brought a much need floor-spacing threat to the frontcourt, leveled out his 3-point shooting, flowed well in the Spurs offense, and rebounded well. There wasn’t anything too remarkable about his season but there was enough there to earn him a spot going forward.
Trey Lyles has earned a spot with the San Antonio Spurs going forward
In some of his first comments after joining the Spurs, Lyles opened up about how he had grown up watching the Spurs and was a fan of the organization. Now, in a recent teleconference with local media, Lyles doubled down on his appreciation for the Spurs organization and their fans and emphasized his desire to remain here going forward.
— JeffGSpursZone (@JeffGSpursZone) July 8, 2020
Given the recent news about Jakob Poeltl potentially looking at other free agency options this summer, the Spurs font office should absolutely be considering keeping Lyles around for the long haul. He’s not going to be the starting power forward on a championship-caliber team, that could end up being Luka Samanic’s spot in a few years, but he’s a serviceable big man who fits well within the team’s current constitution and understands his role.
Even if Poeltl does come back to the Spurs, and we sincerely hope that he does, San Antonio should still keep Lyles around. There’s a solid body of proof that the two could be incredibly effective together.
Of the Spurs duos to play together for or more than 150 minutes this season, Lyles and Poeltl had the highest net rating on the team. The Spurs outscored their opponents by 16.3 points per 100 possessions when they were on the court. Hopefully seeing these two share the floor is something we get more of over these final regular-season games in Orlando.
Another reason to keep Lyles around is that he fits so well with what the Spurs guards want to do on offense.https://videos.nba.com/nba/pbp/media/2019/12/23/0021900450/380/2d2ca299-e4f0-72b8-6d9f-833505f31c65_1280x720.mp4
In this play Lyles sees DeMar DeRozan driving to the lane, recognizes that he’s going to get himself into a spot where he can’t get a shot off, and slides right into the corner for an open three. That’s something we saw Lyles do really well this year. He only shot 27 percent of his 3-point attempts from the corners but connected on close to 46 percent of them.
Trey’s shooting is one of the biggest reasons to keep him around. LaMarcus Aldrdige did step his game outside the 3-point line this year but he will also be an unrestricted free agent next summer. If he leaves, the Spurs are going to be very shorthanded on big men who can shoot. They need to keep Lyles around to fill that void.
Trey Lyles impressed in his first season with the San Antonio Spurs and more than proved that the team should keep him around as solid role player in their shallow frontcourt rotation.