Past the halfway mark, the San Antonio Spurs find themselves in the bottom tier of the NBA. That's obviously not where they want to be, but that's the reality of their situation. It might not be that way for long, however, as next season brings hope that they could be significantly better.
Why? Because of a high lottery pick, cap space, and several young prospects who seem capable of making a big leap. Additionally, the Spurs also have Dejounte Murray, who's already a star but has a chance to become a superstar.
All of that bodes well for the team's future -- so much so that they could find themselves back in the playoffs next season. That, of course, would mean they'd have to beat out a current playoff team, but there are actually several teams that are vulnerable. With that being said, here are the Western Conference playoff teams that the Spurs have a good chance to surpass next season.
1. Portland Trail Blazers
The Portland Trail Blazers made the playoffs as the sixth seed last season but are fighting for a play-in spot this year. Next season could be even worse for them. The Blazers have been trying to build a contender around Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum for years but that doesn't look like it's ever going to happen.
So, instead, they could finally shake things up by breaking them up. The 76ers are reportedly interested in Lillard and have Ben Simmons to offer, making them a possible destination if Lillard wants out after this season. That could actually happen this summer, especially if Philly is willing to throw more in than just Simmons to get a deal done.
Without Lillard, Portland could also look to move McCollum, who is a good player on a bad contract, as well as Jusuf Nurkic and Robert Covington. That would also net them additional assets to help replace the picks they've already traded away. With a younger team, possibly led by Ben Simmons and their 2022 draft selection, which could be a top 10 lottery pick, Portland would be noticeably worse next season as they start a rebuild.
Meanwhile, San Antonio, though currently behind them in the standings, is well ahead of them in the rebuilding process. Furthermore, armed with a high lottery pick of their own and a boatload of cap space, the Spurs could easily leapfrog the Trail Blazers in the standings next season.