Passing the rock was another area where the Spurs showed promise. San Antonio averaged 27.2 assists per game, showcasing that classic Spurs ball movement all season.
The Spurs finished fifth in the league in total assists, only logging fewer assists than the Warriors, Nuggets, Kings, and Suns (all playoff teams). When you have a team that moves the ball as well as the Spurs, it creates better offensive opportunities for teammates. When you combine unselfish passing with a blistering pace, you can create nightmares for defenses.
While the Spurs had one of the worst offenses in the league, this is still an incredibly encouraging number, especially once they add more talent. If defenses have to focus on a legitimate number one scoring option, that will create better looks for teammates as they take advantage of the defensive mistakes better ball movement fosters.
To provide more comfort, the other teams at the bottom, the Pistons and Rockets, ranked 27th and 30th in total assists. The Spurs maintained an assist rate that matched high-level playoff teams this season. That unselfishness has been a staple of the Spurs for over 20 years, and it's safe to say that tradition will live on in this new generation.
3. Team Chemistry
While the Spurs finished at the bottom of the standings, their energy and connectivity were surprisingly solid throughout the season. Granted, this is an area we can't measure, but we've seen players build chemistry on and off the court.
After an unexpected 5-2 start to the season, Doug McDermott talked about how close the Spurs were as a unit.
"Everyone is so unselfish on this team; it’s off the court, and I think it carries to on the court," McDermott said. "You’re seeing that with the way we’re playing out there. It doesn’t matter who’s on the floor. It’s who wants it the most, and we’re continuing to play Spurs basketball. It’s been a blast to be a part of.”
Although this quote came before the Spurs crumbled, the message was the same on the court for the whole season. Spectacular ball movement, nonstop energy, and relentless competitiveness were the hallmarks of this rebuilding team. While other bottom dwellers struggled to establish a culture, the Spurs did not have that problem.