The Spurs entered this season with elevated expectations after landing Victor Wembanyama with the number one overall pick in the 2023 NBA Draft this summer. Though San Antonio is only 3-3 following their first six games, they have displayed plenty of promise on both sides of the court. Ball movement is one of the areas where this young team has excelled, an unselfish trait that has placed them among the league leaders in assist numbers.
Sharing the rock is often a hallmark of elite offenses. However, it can also denote an overdependence on side-to-side action directly stemming from a lack of reliable self-creators. The Silver and Black are somewhere in the middle of that spectrum. Wembanyama has unrivaled skills and touch for someone his size, which should allow San Antonio to run their system through him. But the inexperience on this roster has occasionally left them scrambling for alternative options.
NBA standings based on assists: Where are the Spurs?
1.) Denver Nuggets (29.9)
2.) San Antonio Spurs (29.7)
3.) Golden State Warriors (28.6)
4.) Houston Rockets (26.8)
5.) Utah Jazz (26.7)
6.) Los Angeles Clippers (25.4)
7.) Sacramento Kings (25.4)
8.) Phoenix Suns (25.1)
9.) Memphis Grizzlies (25.0)
10.) Dallas Mavericks (24.8)
11.) Los Angeles Lakers (24.5)
12.) Oklahoma City Thunder (24.0)
13.) Minnesota Timberwolves (23.8)
14.) New Orleans Pelicans (23.3)
15.) Portland Trail Blazers (19.9)
1.) Indiana Pacers (30.8)
2.) Washington Wizards (28.8)
3.) Detroit Pistons (27.9)
4.) Atlanta Hawks (27.7)
5.) Brooklyn Nets (27.7)
6.) Toronto Raptors (27.6)
7.) Charlotte Hornets (26.8)
8.) Miami Heat (25.7)
9.) Orlando Magic (24.7)
10.) Philadelphia 76ers (24.6)
11.) Cleveland Cavaliers (24.0)
12.) Boston Celtics (23.6)
13.) Milwaukee Bucks (21.8)
14.) New York Knicks (21.2)
15.) Chicago Bulls (21.0)
Despite some early struggles to set up Wembanyama and find him in his favorite spots, the Spurs are third in assists (29.7), second in passes (308.0), and 29th in isolation possessions (3.7) in the NBA this season. Unselfish facilitating that emphasizes the best shot available is the superglue that locks their team-first philosophy into place, and San Antonio will be a lethal opponent once they build chemistry and figure out how to best use their generational centerpiece.
Gregg Popovich has 76 games left in the season to get his troops on the same page. Regardless, the 74-year-old playcaller is in no rush to perfect the winning recipe. Year one of the Wembanyama era is the ideal time to experiment with tall-ball lineups and positionless basketball, so don't expect anyone within the front office or on the coaching staff to pressure him into taking a safe or comfortable when it comes to testing the limits of this uniquely talented squad.