Fluke or Fabulous : Are the San Antonio Spurs actually good?

Keldon Johnson, San Antonio Spurs
Keldon Johnson, San Antonio Spurs / Ronald Cortes/GettyImages

At this point, it’s no secret that the San Antonio Spurs are playing well beyond the poor expectations at the start of the season. They are currently 5-2 and sit fourth in the Western Conference, comfortably in the playoff picture for the first time in several years. It is only week three of a young NBA season, so while fans are celebrating the quick start, can it last?

The Spurs have twice beaten the Timberwolves and also took down the 76ers, both of whom at real title aspirations at the start of the season. The Spurs' offense looks unstoppable. They are 5th in the NBA in points and first in assists, but they are also 2nd in turnovers, which has kept some games closer than they need to be. Their rebounding has been competitive, average in the league at 17th, and their defense has been lackluster. Every time I have picked the over for the Air Alamo Lock of the Night, I have been correct in my prediction. This team scores points, and they do it fast, sitting third overall in regards to pace. The Lakers, Warriors, Wolves, and Pacers round out the top five, and the Spurs are better than all of them.

The San Antonio Spurs are putting up some eye-popping numbers

Perhaps the craziest number is that the Spurs are eighth in the entire league in three-point attempts per game. The last time the Spurs were chucking up enough threes to rank in the top 10 was during the 2012-13 NBA season, and they made the Finals that year.

I’m not saying this Spurs team is Finals bound, but they are one of only two teams to be in the top ten in both shots from the deep per game and three-point percentage. The other team that can make that claim? Boston.

The Spurs' defense is nothing special this year. Yes, Devin Vassell, Jakob Poeltl, Keldon Johnson, Tre Jones, and Jeremy Sochan is a solid defensive starting five, but thanks to poor defense by the second unit, the Spurs give up the fifth-most points and have the eight-worst defensive rating in the league.

This gives me a reason to pause. This Spurs team was not meant to be good. Even though they are moving and shooting the ball at an unprecedented rate, I think their defensive struggles will catch up to them sooner rather than later, and they simply have to cool down from outside the arc, right? If they don’t and their offense keeps chugging, then the Spurs are a legitimate playoff team, and no one in their right mind would admit to that, right? 

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Unless the Spurs can pull off a miracle and stay the course, I believe they will slow down and rapidly approach the .500 mark, but I’ve been wrong before, and watching beautiful Spurs basketball again makes it hard for me to cheer for a tank job. Vassell was right. They’re hoopin’, and I hope they continue to do so.