San Antonio Spurs: 2021-2022 Record Prediction
There is still hope for the San Antonio Spurs
Remember, this would be the worst-case scenario. The Spurs front office still has lots of time and plenty of options to make upgrades to the current roster. Who knows, maybe one of the young players does make a significant performance jump this season and will be ready to lead the way for everyone else.
On another hand, maybe the Spurs land John Collins and a couple of other key players in free agency that will gel perfectly with the young core. Or perhaps they land a big name, like Ben Simmons, using a sign-and-trade deal with DeRozan. Even if Simmons doesn't make the Spurs automatic contenders, he would surely be an upgrade on the defensive end of the floor at the very least. The Spurs may even be able to trade up in the draft for a higher pick in exchange for taking on a bad contract.
While it's more or less a guessing game as to predicting what moves the Spurs will make, what we do know is that the worst thing the front office could do is stand firm with the group they have. While some may think that letting go of the veterans and unleashing the young core would mean "tanking," it would allow the front office to see what they can do. Worst-case scenario, the Spurs will end up near the top of the draft board next year and draft a game-changing young player.
The biggest potential issue with that plan, though, is that the Spurs may have drafted too well in recent years to actually lose enough games to end up near the top of the lottery. The current young core is too competitive to have a Philadelphia or even Houston-like tank season where a loss is expected nearly every game-- they've already shown that they can play better than that.
That being said, there is simultaneously no evidence at this point that suggests that they can make the playoffs on their own. Even with an All-Star caliber player like DeRozan there to support them, the Spurs have now missed the playoffs in two consecutive seasons.
One could argue that with DeRozan and Gay out of the picture (and possibly Mills too), their touches will go to guys like Walker, Vassell, and Johnson and that they'll excel with their greater responsibility. After all, if there's one player development staff to not underestimate in the NBA, it's the Spurs.
Ultimately though, I have a feeling that the roster will more or less look the same by the time next season rolls around and that we'll be seeing similar results. Once again, I'm hoping and asking Brian Wright and the Spurs' players to prove me wrong.