Game three of the regular season was a learning experience for the San Antonio Spurs, as the Los Angeles Clippers took them down in a 123-83 drubbing on Sunday night. The Silver and Black had no answer for superstar wings Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, who led the Clips with 21 and 19 points, respectively. Meanwhile, Devin Vassell paced the good guys with 14 points.
1.) The young Spurs will struggle versus veteran teams
San Antonio nearly shocked the NBA world as they came within two minutes of beating the Dallas Mavericks on the opening night of their season. The team followed that up with an impressive, albeit messy, overtime win versus the Rockets. Those squads featured rotations that experienced massive roster turnover this summer, and the Spurs made up for any talent differential with their coaching and preparation.
The Spurs failed to replicate those results on Sunday night in Los Angeles. The far more experienced Clippers seemed to have all of the answers they needed versus a team that featured a rotation that had an average age of 24 years old. Expect that trend to continue for the early parts of this season, especially when there hasn't been enough time for Gregg Popovich to coach the rookie mistakes out of this young core.
2.) San Antonio has an obvious issue with consistency
Though their defense already looks improved from last year (not a very high bar to clear), it will continue being a bottom-half unit by nature of the youth and inexperience across the roster. If you want to remain competitive, scoring tons of points is the only counter to having a below-average defense. The Spurs are unquestionably talented enough to do just that, but they will remain limited on the offensive end due to their lack of consistency.
Going into this season, it was imperative to most Spurs fans that Vassell took a leap and could shoulder more of the offensive burden. He seems to be in the midst of putting himself on the map, which is a phenomenal sign for San Antonio's future. Cedi Osman has also shined on that end of the floor. However, their youth will keep them from finding stability. The more guys who are ready when Coach Pop calls their name, the better.
3.) The starting point guard dilemma is a futile debate
Jeremy Sochan taking over as starting point guard for the Spurs has lit the internet ablaze. Almost everyone with basketball opinions has fired off their takes on Twitter. Heck, I’ve even chimed in with my ideal starting lineup! There have been solid arguments for the two players contending for lead ballhandling reps. Sochan provides favorable size, athleticism, and defense at the one, while Tre Jones is a more natural fit who is better at setting his teammates up in the half-court.
We only have a three-game sample of Sochan at point guard, which makes this debate mute. Jeremy has started each matchup and has been allowed to stretch his creativity as a ball handler. In crucial momentum-shifting periods and crunch time, Tre Jones leads the charge. Because the onus is not on San Antonio to compete for anything meaningful yet, expect more lineup experimentation from Coach Pop and his staff.
A 40-point loss is never fun, especially at the hands of someone like Leonard, whom many fans probably still consider a villain. There is little doubt that the coaching staff and players will discuss these exact takeaways and more as they prepare to face the Phoenix Suns on Halloween. The good news for the Spurs is that, as mentioned above, wins aren’t a requirement for this season— the continued development of the young core is priority number one.