3. Who is the Spurs’ Sixth Man?
The Spurs’ bench averaged 39.8 points per game this season, which was third-best in the league. With initial expectations for Lonnie Walker to be one of the best bench players in the league, his cold start quickly proved that the Spurs’ bench would be run by a committee instead of an individual.
So who leads the bench committee? At the start of the season, it was Devin Vassell, but after he was promoted to the starting lineup, it became harder to discern. In terms of minutes per game off the bench, Josh Richardson, Lonnie Walker, and Josh Primo lead the way. In terms of total minutes, Lonnie Walker is ahead by a considerable amount, followed by Tre Jones.
Minutes aren’t everything. Production matters more than playtime, and Lonnie Walker and Josh Richardson are the only bench guys to average double digits. Lonnie Walker actually finished fourth on the entire roster in field goal attempts with 10.9 per game.
In terms of how effective their play is, Tre Jones had 2.9 win shares, which is the highest of the second unit. Walker narrowly edged out Jones in defensive win shares (1.1 to 0.9), although Jones’ value over replacement player was higher (0.4 to -0.2).
Depending on how you want to look at it, the Spurs’ sixth man could be Tre Jones, Josh Richardson, Lonnie Walker, or you could even make the case for Primo or Keita Bates-Diop if you really wanted to. With no clear leader, it looks like the committee approach was favored, and it seemed to have worked quite well.