3.) The Spurs have the potential for a lethal team defense
After fielding a historically poor defense last season, there is nowhere to go but up from here. Adding a 7-foot-3 Magic Eraser will work wonders to fortify the team on that end of the floor.
Again, reading too much into defensive trends in the preseason is ill-advised, but the configurations of lineups we've seen point to an energetic team ready to weaponize their long wingspans. The lanky starting lineup we watched last night should rack up all the deflections and contests, and it is no surprise they went on a 17-3 run in the first five minutes of the game.
The Rockets did not trot out a small team, with Amen Thompson filling in as a supersized starting point guard. But the Spurs' length gave them fits in the passing lanes and contesting shots around the rim. The Silver and Black are well-equipped to convert turnovers into transition points as long as they reel in the urge to gamble too much with reliable weakside defenders cleaning up behind them.
And the defensive intensity should not subside once Coach Pop goes to his bench, as Tre Jones and Charles Bassey are reputable as event creators in their own right. Even newcomer Cedi Osman has done well to hold up and possibly take minutes from Doug McDermott as a more versatile defender who can provide outside shooting and savvy cutting.
One significant point of improvement to monitor is making sure to finish defensive possessions by securing defensive rebounds. While the Spurs allowing several second-chance opportunities last night could be due to them falling asleep at the wheel after jumping out to an early lead, this team has too much size across the board to surrender as many offensive boards as they did to Houston.
As Spurs fans eagerly await the start of the regular season, everything points to a hungry, young team ready to figure out how to empower each other and win games this year.