The San Antonio Spurs are regressing, and much of that is on Coach Pop
I’ve defended Coach Popovich at every turn for the past few seasons because, after all, he’s earned it. I’ve enjoyed five parades in San Antonio thanks to Pop, Tim, Tony, and Manu. For that reason, he’ll never drop from the number one spot in my all-time NBA coaches list. But this isn’t about the glory days anymore.
Last season, Bryn Forbes averaged 25.1 minutes per game — more than Derrick White, Keldon Johnson, and Lonnie Walker. Marco Belinelli was also getting nearly 16 minutes per game despite shooting 39 percent from the field overall and offering as much defensive resistance as the bacon I devoured this morning.
We all are seeing how White, Johnson, and Walker are turning out this season while Marco is now playing in Italy. Unfortunately, Coach Popovich is allowing history to repeat itself.
The argument for playing Devin is more significant in my mind. He’s a rookie, but absolutely nothing about his game shows that. He’s mature, smart, plays phenomenal defense, and can knock down threes when given a chance. The problem is, he doesn’t get many chances.
Samanic is still a bit raw but showed tremendous strides upon returning from his latest G League stint. He was engaged, aggressive, and a better defender than about 70 percent of the roster from what I saw.
Against the Pacers, the Spurs were without Drew Eubanks, who secured the backup center role once LaMarcus Aldridge departed for Brooklyn. They also were without Gorgui Dieng, who had just signed to help space the floor as a reliable shooting big to take Drew’s spot. Still, Samanic, who can knock down threes and is 6-10, played fewer than nine minutes.
Is more of Vassell or Samanic going to magically turn this team into a contender? No, but their shortage of playing time leads me to one question: What’s Gregg Popovich’s main goal this season?
Next: The Big Question