Playoffs or not, the likelihood of the San Antonio Spurs pulling off an upset in the first round is slim and a lottery pick is more valuable these days.
Tradition has become the way of the San Antonio Spurs’ organization. Playing for your teammates and striving to be your best is the Spurs’ way and that’s not going to change any time soon. Head coach Gregg Popovich has built up this modern era of Spurs basketball by bringing the same methodology to every group he leads.
With that said, is it really that big of a deal if San Antonio’s playoff streak comes to an end this season? Making it into the play-in tournament and earning that eighth seed give the Spurs a first-round date with the Los Angeles Lakers — a team they lost to by a larger margin in each of their three meetings this season. The silver and black don’t have anyone to effectively combat the 2020 point-forward version of LeBron James. Four games of Jakob Poeltl fouling out against Anthony Davis doesn’t sound widely entertaining.
Still, playoff experience would be valuable for young Spurs. Getting their feet wet and witnessing the energy shift would prepare them for when they are an actual playoff contender. The more pressing question isn’t whether or not it matters if the Spurs make the playoffs, but what’s more valuable: The Spurs’ playoff streak or a lottery pick?
If San Antonio misses out on the postseason, they get to select from a 2020 NBA Draft lottery with heightened odds to jump into the top four. Last season, we saw unlikely jumps from the New Orleans Pelicans and Memphis Grizzlies that landed each of them franchise-altering players. Should the Spurs miss the postseason, there’s a chance the same could apply to them.
— Trevor Zickgraf (@TrevorWrites) August 10, 2020
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Banking on such small odds would be ridiculous, but the security of a top-12 pick in the draft still gives the Spurs a better chance at rolling the dice than they’ve had since the late nineties. If the Spurs can pick out great talent in the late-20s for almost two decades, they should be able to do some damage when picking in that range.
San Antonio’s 22-year postseason streak is the most valuable aspect of the Spurs’ playoff dilemma. Currently tied for the longest playoff streak in NBA history is incredible, but setting it in these conditions would be an incredible story. Defying the odds and returning to play in the bubble to shatter this record would add another layer of excellence to the lore of the Spurs’ dynasty.
To me, breaking the record would be a great feat with very little impact on the team’s improvement for the future. The difference between the 11th pick and the 16th could be huge in a draft class with players who can make an immediate impact for the silver and black.
Either way, the Spurs are going to compete with the intention of winning a championship. It’s simply how the team operates, whether that goal is within reach or not.
You can’t blame a team for giving their all every time on the court and these last few games are going to have a dramatic impact on league history.