San Antonio Spurs: Could Jakob Poeltl could be the next Davis Bertans?

SAN ANTONIO, TX - DECEMBER 7: Fans and Davis Bertans #42 of the San Antonio Spurs reacts as he do teammates Patty Mills #8 and DeMar DeRozan #10 and Jakob Poeltl #25 after a three against the Los Angeles Lakers at AT&T Center on December 7 , 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 7: Fans and Davis Bertans #42 of the San Antonio Spurs reacts as he do teammates Patty Mills #8 and DeMar DeRozan #10 and Jakob Poeltl #25 after a three against the Los Angeles Lakers at AT&T Center on December 7 , 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 San Antonio Spurs be making the same mistake two years in a row?

We don’t need to rehash all of the details of the unfortunate series events that led to the San Antonio Spurs trading Davis Bertans away last summer but suffice it to say that that’s a move they wish they could have back.

After being used primarily as a spot-up shooter during his three years in San Antonio, Bertans was a more integral part of the Washington Wizards offense this year and his production soared. He went from a relative unknown to one of the leagues’ best long-range shooters and has set himself up for a major payday this summer as a result.

Whether it’s because he was underutilized or the coaching staff didn’t believe he could do more than knock down three’s, Bertans was probably undervalued while with the Spurs. He spoke about the differences between Washington and San Antonio earlier this year and highlighted how welcoming the Wizards locker room was to a variety of opinions from players.

If a player believes they’re being underutilized they’re probably not going to want to stick around. And while it’s unclear what Bertans may have done if he had stayed in San Antonio, the Spurs are getting themselves into a similar situation with Jakob Poeltl.

The San Antonio Spurs need to give more attention to Jakob Poeltl

On The Ringer NBA Show, Kevin O’Connor drew similarities between Poeltl and Bertans, and how the San Antonio Spurs could be undervaluing Poeltl in a similar way to what they did with Bertans. O’Connor pointed to the same things that we’ve covered in the past – how Poeltl has improved as a player while also noting how his minutes have not increased in the way that you’d expect for a player on the rise.

He also mentioned Poeltl’s recent comments about looking at other teams in free agency, and that how the opportunity for a larger role is crucially important to him at this stage in his career. O’Connor concluded by saying that he wished the Spurs would use Poeltl in a larger role, while also pointing out that, given the absences of Trey Lyles and LaMarcus Aldridge, that’s something we could be seeing from Jakob in Orlando.

For San Antonio, these next few games from Poeltl shouldn’t be the deciding factor in whether they try to keep him around. He’s given them two strong years, improved into one of the best young rim protectors in the league, while also growing as a screener and a passer. There’s a big enough body of work there to prove that he’s deserving of a larger role.

This doesn’t mean that San Antonio needs to do anything drastic like trade away LaMarcus to make room for Poeltl as the starting center, but the Spurs should make it clear to Poeltl that they view him as a large part of their future. And then pay him and play him in an appropriate manner.

The Marcus Morris debacle was no fault of Brian Wrights, but if he oversees a front office that lets two promising young players slip away in back to back summers you have to wonder about his ability to steer the Spurs through a rebuild that they clearly will need over the next few years.

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The Spurs have been the gold standard of NBA franchises over the past twenty years but some of the decisions that the team has made over the past two years have left more than a few Spurs fans scratching their heads and wondering about the direction the team is heading in.

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