The San Antonio Spurs have plenty of offensive weapons heading into the 2020-21 season, and it’s time for some young guns to see more touches.
Last season, offense wasn’t a major problem for the San Antonio Spurs. Scoring 114.1 points per game, they ranked eighth overall and were fifth in field goal percentage. Unsurprisingly, DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge led the way in points per game with 22.1 and 18.9, respectively.
Unfortunately, a heavy dose of mid-range jumpers mixed with the occasional high-percentage 3-point shots wasn’t enough to make up for the severe shortcomings of the Silver and Black on defense. Only five teams gave up more points per game than the Spurs last season.
While that’s bound to change for San Antonio with some terrible defenders now gone and good ones joining the mix, the Spurs will still need to keep up their offensive efficiency to keep up in the Western Conference. For that, they’ll need to look at what worked so well in the Orlando bubble, stirring that into what was already an intimidating offensive system.
As Gregg Popovich looks to plug exciting young players into his lineup led by veterans, here are the top five guys he should call upon when the team needs to get buckets.
Next: No. 5 & 4
5. Dejounte Murray
In his first two seasons, Dejounte Murray wasn’t often seen as an offensive threat. What became his calling card was his defensive tenacity combined with impressive rebounding at his position. Last season was Murray’s most complete season yet, as he showed his jump shot from mid-range and beyond the arc is now something to be respected.
From his second season to his third, he quadrupled his 3-point attempts per game from 0.4 to 1.7 while improving his outside shooting percentage from 26.5 to 36.9. Naturally, he went from 8.1 points a night to 10.9 last season.
Having a consistent jumper is vital for Murray to succeed. He already has the ability to use his craftiness and length to get to the hoop and can already dish the ball (although with DeMar DeRozan around, he doesn’t need to so as much.)
Dejounte likely won’t be getting any isolation plays or late-game calls for him any time soon, but he can still a good option for getting some buckets in the flow of the offense.
4. Rudy Gay
Rudy Gay may not be getting the minutes he used to in his prime, but he can still put the ball in the hole with the best of them. Gay has scored over 16,000 points in his career spanning four teams, and that’s not by accident.
With his 6-8 frame and wide range of offensive moves, Rudy can score from anywhere. Having the edge in virtually any one-on-one matchup is certainly a perk that not a lot of players enjoy, but Gay still has that at the age of 33.
Rudy’s 10.8 points per game last season matches the lowest he’s ever had in a season, but he also played much less than he did on Toronto, Sacramento, or Memphis. With a bigger role in Orlando, Gay showed he’s still got plenty left in the tank when he’s needed.
Gay averaged 17.9 points per game in the final seven games of the Spurs’ restart, shooting a scorching 45.7 from three and 46.8 percent overall. Rudy can always be counted on to bring it on offense, and this year should be no different.
Next: No. 3 & 2
3. LaMarcus Aldridge
He may have missed the Spurs’ rejuvenated run in Orlando, but LaMarcus Aldridge will always remain hugely important as long as he’s on the team. At age 34, Aldridge can still put up 20 points per game while holding his own down low.
On the other side of the ball, LaMarcus’s 1.6 blocks per game last season was the highest he’s averaged in his 14-year career. While he may be a step slow on defending drives, his 6-11 height is still crucial for San Antonio to establish themselves as a defensive threat.
Because of his devastating mid-range jumper and ability to keep plays alive on the glass, Aldridge will get his usual major minutes for the Spurs this season. If he adapts his game to shoot more outside shots than ever before, as he and Coach Pop have been hinting at recently, he’ll be even more deadly than he’s ever been as a Spur.
2. Derrick White
Derrick White‘s first act was the 2019 first round playoff series against the Denver Nuggets. His second act was his performance in the Orlando bubble. Now, it’s time for the Spurs to put him center stage for good. White’s game seems to be growing by the minute, and his ability to score is getting easier and easier.
What makes Derrick rank so high in my rankings is his ability to score from anywhere on the floor. Most other guys on the team have a limitation offensively — whether it be finishing at the basket or shooting from deep. White doesn’t have an issue in either of those regards. Derrick has developed a strong driving ability, and he’s making the right decisions at the end of his drives more and more frequently.
Now entering his fourth year with the Spurs, it’s time for him to be given the keys when San Antonio’s number one option doesn’t have them.
Next: No. 1
1. DeMar DeRozan
He may only be the 82nd-best player in the NBA (*eye-roll*), but the Spurs are still DeMar DeRozan’s team when it’s all said and done. The four-time All-Star may be limited when it comes to an outside shot, but his inside game is so good that he more than makes up for that.
DeRozan shot a career-high 53.1 percent last season, making 46 percent of his mid-range shots (note: those are insane numbers). While he had some struggles at the free throw line in clutch situations, he also delivered numerous big shots in big situations for the Spurs.
DeMar has never been one to back down from a challenge or big moment, so I fully expect him to continue to have the ball in his hands with the game on the line. The biggest revelation of the San Antonio version of DeMar has been his exceptional passing, as he’s enjoyed the two best passing seasons of his career in the Alamo City.
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DeRozan’s ability to create a shot for himself is head-and-shoulders above the rest of the team, and if we’re talking about flat-out scoring and needing a bucket, he still remains the guy until someone takes the torch from him.