San Antonio Spurs Tier 1: 5-1
Derrick White has definitely underperformed this season, which has hurt the Spurs through the team's first 15 games. This after he was expected to be one of the team’s best players and possibly even lead the team in scoring.
Instead, he’s averaging only 11.4 points, while shooting under 40% from the field. While his playmaking and defense have been very good, his overall passiveness on offense is part of the reason the Spurs rank only 20th offensively. Simply put, White should likely be the 2nd-best player on the team but is currently 5th.
Devin Vassell has quickly become a vital part of the Spurs this season, providing the team with some much-needed shooting to go along with fantastic defense. In fact, he’s 5th on the team minutes, showing just how important he’s become in just his second season. Moreover, his role is likely to continue to grow this season, possibly even resulting in him becoming a starter.
Jakob Poeltl had a terrific start to the season, averaging 13.9 points, 9.7 rebounds, 2.6 assists, and 1.2 blocks before missing the last 7 games due to health and safety protocols. The Spurs have gone 2-5 in his absence and struggled mightily, especially on the defensive end. Poeltl's return will provide the team with an interior scoring threat, extra possessions with his elite offensive rebounding ability, and fantastic rim protection. As a result, he's been one of the team's best players.
Keldon Johnson is second on the team in scoring, averaging 15.6 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 1.1 steals through 14 games. Additionally, he's been rock solid on the defensive end, even when tasked with guarding bigger players as a team starting power forward.
Despite that, his uneven shooting from behind the arc and at the free-throw line has been an issue. Fortunately, his recent shooting surge suggests that he'll be more consistent over the rest of the season and could lead to his scoring average increasing.
Dejounte Murray has been the team's best player thus far, and while that was expected, he's managed to exceed even the most optimistic of expectations. He leads the team in points, assists, and steals, and also ranks second in rebounds, showing just how good he's been across the board.
Moreover, his disruptive defense gives him an even stronger case to be an NBA All-Star despite the Spurs record. It’s safe to say the Spurs would be in serious trouble without Murray’s terrific play.
Overall, despite its poor record, San Antonio has managed to remain relatively competitive due in large part to its young core. However, a lot can change in regard to both team record and individual player rankings, but we'll have to see how the rest of the season plays out.