3 Rotation decisions that would frustrate Spurs fans to no end
By Cal Durrett
Decision #1: Starting Keldon Johnson at power forward.
By all indications, the Spurs appear set to have Keldon Johnson play more on the perimeter this season. That's music to most fans' ears since the team has had mixed results, at best, with Johnson playing the 4. Still, old habits die hard, and if the team needs more shooting, ball handling, and defense on the floor late in games, Popovich might go with a lineup such as Tre Jones, Josh Richardson, Devin Vassell, Johnson, and Poeltl.
That wouldn't be the end of the world, but the Spurs drafted Sochan for a reason: to upgrade the front court, specifically at power forward. This should allow the Spurs should keep Johnson at his natural position of small forward as much as possible and mix and match until they're able to find a suitable power-forward rotation. Sochan, Bates-Diop, and Roby are all good options and give the team a high level of versatility, particularly on defense.
While there have been some questions about Johnson's ability to play on the perimeter full-time, his preseason debut against the Utah Jazz should help assuage those fears. He looks increasingly comfortable playing with the ball in his hands and even pushing the ball in transition. Better yet, his playmaking has improved by leaps and bounds since the start of last season.
Factor in his development as a shooter and his already-existing ability as a relentless driver off the dribble, and it's clear that having Johnson play the 3 is better for the team. Hopefully, Popovich agrees with fans on that, but it is not guaranteed he will.
Overall, with the team not expected to be very good, a lot of these coaching decisions may not ultimately matter in the long run. However, it will be a long season for Spurs fans, and having a rotation that makes sense will at least give them some comfort as they struggle through what is sure to be a frustrating 2022–23 season.