The San Antonio Spurs have always been one of the more understated teams in the NBA. Tim Duncan is obviously a top ten player ever but ESPN and other media giants would rather focus on Shaquille O'Neal, Kobe Bryant, Giannis, and Anthony Davis. All of those players were and are less accomplished than the Spurs.
Gregg Popovich is undeniably the best coach ever, having more wins than almost anyone else, and might take that throne this very season. He also has the second-best winning percentage (just behind Phil Jackson) but has more wins than Jackson and has five titles. Again, people outside of San Antonio seem to think his greatness is up for debate. It isn’t.
Even Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker fall victim to being severely underrated, as both are surefire Hall of Famers and two of the best foreign players ever, but again, less accomplished players who played in larger markets often beat them out.
While it’s true that Dejounte Murray is definitely worthy of an All-Star nod this season, Spurs fans have come to the conclusion that he simply will not get one based on the national voting system. Murray is appropriately rated among Spurs fans, but even those loyal to the Silver and Black have been underrating some current players.
There are three players on the roster that are underrated even by fans, so let’s work on changing that.
1. Tre Jones is A Very Good Backup Guard
Ask any Spurs fan and they will tell you with total confidence that Tre Jones is not nearly as good as Derrick White, Dejounte Murray, or even Lonnie Walker IV. To that, I say sure, I guess. Derrick and Dejounte are both established starters and better players than Jones, and Walker has two extra NBA seasons under his belt and is much more gifted athletically.
Well, the numbers suggest Tre Jones might be closer to Dejounte Murray than we first thought, and one could very easily make the case that he’s the second-best ball handler on the team.
Tre Jones gets ten minutes fewer per game than Walker, and 20 fewer than White or Murray. He’s young, doesn’t have a good outside shot, and is probably shorter than the official inch he has behind the other three guards. He also is not nearly as athletically gifted as any of the other three players.
However, per 36 minutes, he is averaging fewer points, but turns the ball over the least of these four players and plays the second-best defense behind Dejounte Murray. His steals are comparable to Derrick White, and only DJ outbounds him despite his smaller frame and poor leaping ability compared to Lonnie Walker.
While he is a bad 3-point shooter, his field goal percentage is better than that of White, Walker, or Murray. In fact, his field goal percentage of 48.5 is the best among all non-big men on the Spurs aside from Keita Bates-Diop.
Tre Jones plays with tenacity and hustle, which will always give him a spot as a rotation guy. But if Derrick White is moved and Primo plays a more shooting guard-type role, Spurs fans should consider Tre Jones the first point guard off the bench and someone who should be getting some real playing time.