Can The Spurs Realistically Make the Playoffs This Season?

Gregg Popovich, Keldon Johnson, Dejounte Murray, Derrick White
Gregg Popovich, Keldon Johnson, Dejounte Murray, Derrick White / Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
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San Antonio Spurs
San Antonio Spurs Johnny Moore / Focus On Sport/Getty Images

Trying to use the past to determine the future

First, a little history. The Spurs have played 46 NBA seasons and made the playoffs in 39 of those. This is an insanely impressive number which has been sustained over time with this franchise and really sets a tone that making the postseason is something that has come to be expected.  

Curiosity led me to search throughout the Spurs history for a team that might be comparable, personnel-wise, to what the franchise is fielding this season, in an attempt to gauge how not yet established Spurs teams of the past performed.

Bear in mind the near twenty-year dynasty and success in the 1990s and the closest thing that could possibly resemble 2022 Spurs Basketball would have to live in the 1980s. 

Ah, the 80’s. That fiesta-themed, off-blue-accented hardwood floor of Hemisphere Arena with obstructed views to boot. Before Charles Barkley shut down the old girl in 1993, it saw a different breed of ball than its successors, the Alamodome and ATT Center, would enjoy. That decade was all over the place for the franchise, uncharacteristic from the Spurs as we have known them. 

In terms of postseason play, these Spurs squads reached the playoffs five times from 1981 through 1989. Overall records varied, hit or miss if you will. 41 wins, 35 wins and 28 wins, for example, with playoff berths in two out of those three. The word mediocre came to mind, but that term certainly does not fit the current roster. There is simply just too much talent. 

Before the Admiral arrived in the later years of that decade, the Spurs really didn’t have a specific identity. Often these teams were young and the playoffs seemed out of reach but then came within reach as springtime approached. These years, the playoffs seemed to be a toss-up.

Realistically, I am not sure we can refer to a playoff appearance in 2022 as a toss-up. We simply do not know enough about the team's chemistry, not to mention player health and, of course, lady luck. Until the 2022 team discovers its true identity, which is a process in itself, any comparisons to prior Spurs ballers is almost a moot point. 2022 is something new.