3 Reasons the Spurs improved and should compete in 2023-24

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3.) Better personnel across the depth chart

The Spurs didn't have the cap space to keep Reggie Bullock, give him a spot in the rotation as a reputable shooter, and flip him for assets at the trade deadline. That has been the modus operandi for the front office over the last couple of years, but it is telling that they were willing to cut him for nothing and watch him sign with a division rival.

San Antonio had little leverage because they lacked the minutes to spare for Bullock. Their front office was more keen on directly observing and projecting the ceilings of the young talent on their roster. Even though it is not immediately evident how Coach Pop should dole out rotation minutes, fans should be excited to see so many promising prospects at different stages of their development.

With a starting lineup of Collins, Wembanyama, Johnson, Vassell, and Sochan cemented for opening night, the Spurs will have to learn how to cater to the needs of their Polish point forward. This challenge is tough, but Sochan theoretically provides some aggression and rim pressure.
Tre Jones would offer more passing, but it seems he will be a fulcrum for the second unit until further notice.

You could argue that a sharpshooter like Doug McDermott or Julian Champagnie belongs in the starting lineup to optimize the space for Wembanyama. But there are too many established players with two-way talent ahead of them on the depth chart. Deploying Johnson and Sochan off the bench as the Bash Brothers for a supercharged second unit would be exciting, especially with how tired and outmatched opponents would feel after matching up against the physical forwards.

There's no correct or wrong answer for how to assemble the best lineups moving forward, and early signs point to the team taking the entire season to hash out these configurations. Hopefully, cycling through all these scenarios will inevitably lead to an a-ha or oh-no moment that resonates with the coaching staff and shapes the long-term roster construction around this nucleus. Until we see meaningful sample sizes on the court, we have no clue where this team is heading.

We haven't even gotten to Malaki Branham's potential to feast as essentially the seventh guy in the rotation or the complementary skillsets Charles Bassey and Sandro Mamukelashvili offer as backup bigs.

For grizzled, veteran leadership outside of Doug McDermott, the Spurs will seemingly lean on Cedi Osman after cutting Khem Birch on Thursday afternoon. Osman is a malleable wing with size, shooting chops, and off-ball utility, and he could earn second-string duties if he continues shining.

And then there are intriguing prospects in Blake Wesley, Dominick Barlow, and Sidy Cissoko, who are all likely to head to the G-League incubator for most of the season, with the latter two brimming with potential to be valuable role players in the not-so-distant future.

As long as health stays on San Antonio's side this season, this squad could raise eyebrows and push for better results than most people expect with their competitiveness and slept-on talent. Now, it's time to enjoy watching renewed vigor and focus from this franchise as they set off on their ascent to the top of the mountain again.