3. The Spurs Need to Stay Healthy
In late December and early January, the Spurs got absolutely destroyed by COVID health and safety protocols. To be fair, so did most of the league at one point or another. In an already high-risk NBA season, the Spurs need to avoid illness and injury.
I do not think injury-riddled seasons should be given an “asterisk.” They count as much as any other season regardless of who gets hurt and when they get hurt. Being able to stay healthy is a skill that gives players higher value.
I think it’s very gross when fans root for an injury, so I really hope this does not happen. But the Spurs would have a clear-cut path to the playoffs if they were to stay healthy and other teams started getting bit by the injury bug. Look at teams ahead of them. The Spurs should be able to pass the Kings any game now, healthy or not.
The tenth-seeded Blazers seem to be doing okay so far without All-Star Damian Lillard, but they are the exception to the rule. The Clippers are without Paul George or Kawhi Leonard, so San Antonio could catch them.
If LeBron gets hurt, the Lakers are done for, and in his 19th season, his body might just give out. If the Nuggets lose Jokic, then their three best players (Murray and Porter Jr included) are hurt and they won’t be able to compete. Even if Anthony Edwards or Karl-Anthony Towns are out, the Timberwolves could be erased from the playoff picture.
If the Spurs stay healthy and manage their depth well while other teams don’t, they could have an easy path to the playoffs.
The Spurs seem destined for the lottery, and that has its positives too. There are plenty of instant-impact players that would boost the Spurs immediately, so the season is not a wash if the Spurs miss the postseason. However, the playoffs, let alone the play-in tournament, is not out of the question quite yet.