The San Antonio Spurs found themselves at the bottom of the standings and in the running for the number one overall pick in the 2023 NBA Draft, finishing with a 22-60 regular-season record. While it may not sound like a team moving in a positive direction, that isn't the case.
In addition to an abundance of cap space and draft capital, the Spurs gave fans plenty of reasons to be hopeful for the future during their first true rebuilding season. So let's look at five promising signs this young San Antonio squad showed as they enter the offseason.
While San Antonio ranked in the bottom third of the league in almost every noteworthy category, like points per game or defensive rating, they were near the top of the leaderboard in one statistic: Pace.
Pace is an estimate of the number of possessions teams play per 48 minutes. More possessions equal a higher pace. In the past few years, the NBA has floored the gas pedal, attempting to overwhelm defenses and force them out of position by getting out in transition. Clubs like the Warriors are known for their breakneck brand of basketball.
The Spurs played at the second-highest pace in the NBA this season (102.07), finishing a hair under Golden State and slightly above the Thunder and Lakers. While a quicker pace can hide a poor offense by pushing the tempo against an unset defense in transition, it can also be an invaluable tool for a potent attack. We saw the Spurs make multiple comebacks from massive deficits and keep games competitive, using pace to their advantage.
While not a perfect indicator of success, it's a sign the Spurs can excel in one area that might pay dividends in the future.