If fans know anything about the current state of the San Antonio Spurs, it's that the team is desperately in need of more outside shooters. In a league that is getting increasingly better at shooting from deep, the Spurs have been moving in the opposite direction for the past few seasons now.
This past season, the Spurs were 24th in the league in three-point percentage, second to last in three-pointers made, and dead last in three-pointers attempted. This, in combination with some struggles rebounding the ball and on defense, makes for a surefire way to lose basketball games.
It's entirely possible that the Spurs are able to find a free agent or two that can come in and shoot the lights out of the AT&T Center, and it's also possible that they find a knockdown shooter in next week's NBA Draft. What I think is just as likely, though, is that the coaching staff gives the green light to a few players on the current roster to start shooting more threes. While it may not be the style of basketball that the Spurs are generally accustomed to, sooner or later they'll have to adapt.
Three San Antonio Spurs players should be given the green light, and they aren't veterans
Assuming the Spurs aren't able to add any snipers to the roster any time soon, then who on the current roster should be given the 'ok' to let it fly from three?
The first one, and the player that is probably the closest to being a veteran on this shot list, is Derrick White. He's shown in years past that he's capable of shooting the ball well, and did okay shooting the ball on high volume even this past season. He shot about 35% from three on 6.8 attempts per game, which is an encouraging sign.
The key for him will be staying healthy during the season. White is very noticeably at his best when he's able to play consistently without any hiccups, but nagging injuries have prevented that from happening. Next season, though, if he's able to steer clear of those injuries as well as COVID-19, I have full confidence that he'll have a good shooting year.
Next comes Devin Vassell, who was touted as being a fantastic sharpshooter coming out of Florida State University. While he saw more playing time than most other Spurs rookies in recent memory, the court time he did see was still wildly inconsistent. For him to shoot the ball better, he'll need to get more reps in during the offseason and play a more consistent role during the season.
Thankfully, I don't think this will be much of an issue. Particularly if DeMar DeRozan opts to leave the team in free agency, I have a feeling that he will be the next man up in the starting lineup. This past season, he shot about 35% from three on 2.4 attempts per game. I fully expect those numbers to be higher by the end of next season.
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, is Lonnie Walker IV. I am still in the camp that has tons of hope left in Walker and, I think that at some point soon, he can be the team's go-to scorer. I think what is hurting Walker the most at this point is that he's unsure how to assert himself with how the roster is currently constructed.
When he was featured in the starting lineup, both DeRozan and Dejounte Murray were looking to score before Walker. On the bench unit, the same could be said about Patty Mills and Rudy Gay. He got few good-quality opportunities when he was forced to create a shot with the ball, and when he was open off the ball, his teammates were not hitting him enough.
Some of Walker's best performances this past season came when he was treated as a primary scorer. Two of those games came in January against the Minnesota Timberwolves and Oklahoma City Thunder when DeRozan was unavailable to play. Personally, I don't think that was a coincidence.
If Walker can continue to improve his off-ball movement, pull-up shooting, and his ability to finish through contact, I'm confident that he can become an incredibly dangerous scorer within the next few seasons.