5 Encouraging signs from the Spurs’ first rebuilding season
By Ty Jager
There weren't many games this season where the Spurs rolled over and let opponents slaughter them. While there were a handful of blowouts where the game got out of hand early, the Spurs had several matchups where they nearly pulled off seemingly impossible comebacks. Youth and inexperience led to a horrendous record, but their competitive play would sometimes deceive you.
The Spurs also played up to their competition, making some top playoff teams struggle as they weren't always guaranteed victory. Some of their 22 wins were against some of the best teams in the league, including the 76ers, Bucks, Nuggets, and Kings.
We have mentioned the Spurs' on-court energy a handful of times already, but it played a vital role in this year's positive notes. The Silver and Black refused to let teams walk all over them despite their lack of talent. Once they add star power to their competitive nature, they will have a strong team who plays unselfish basketball with unrelenting effort.
The whole point of this season for San Antonio was development. As a team with a surplus of youngsters that lacked superstar talent, the focus was always trying to help improve their games. The Spurs accomplished that and more.
Jeremy Sochan was the poster child for the Spurs' development. The Polish forward showed noticeable improvement throughout the season, particularly from the charity stripe. His free throw percentage went from an abysmal 55% to a respectable 78.4% because of a bold one-hand adjustment.
Almost every young player on the roster showed signs of improvement. Zach Collins worked his way into a starting role after various injuries derailed his career two years ago. Devin Vassell showed impressive scoring capabilities despite knee soreness holding him back. Malaki Branham broke out as a rookie, showcasing his three-level scoring potential. And Tre Jones suddenly became a triple-double machine at the end of the year after being a solid presence at the point.
Spurs players developed all season, and it's thanks to the minutes and opportunities the rebuild provided them. Now with a chance to grab a generational talent at the top of the draft, these improved players are creating a foundation to build on top of. So despite a down season, the Spurs' future looks extremely promising.