3. The Spurs must address rebounding and defense
So I said “three-ish” areas of opportunity because I think lumping rebounding and defense together is fair. Most defensive “stops” are completed with a defensive rebound.
Firstly, I’ll evaluate the Spurs’ rebounding numbers, which I think will be the easiest area to improve. The Spurs ranked 18th in the league in rebounding averaging 43.9 rebounds per game.
They were led by Jakob Poeltl (7.9), Murray (7.1), and Keldon Johnson (6.0), but besides Poeltl, nobody on the team was really a bruiser with a nose for the ball.
Players who value rebounding aren’t that hard to find and usually aren’t very expensive either. The Spurs can find a free agent for cheap or bring in a rookie to help shore up the rebounding while also encouraging the athletic guys on the roster (Murray, Johnson, Lonnie Walker IV) to crash the boards just a little harder.
Secondly, is the defense. San Antonio finished the season with the 17th ranked defense and had the 24th ranked defense after the All-Star break. Poor defense along with the struggles from deep are what ultimately doomed the Spurs.
However, I think this area of opportunity can be cleaned up in-house. Sure, bringing in players that are known as defensive stoppers would help. But, one of the biggest issues for the Spurs on defense was youth.
Young players struggle to defend in the NBA. That’s just the reality of it. The good news is the Spurs have players with the physical makeup to defend at an elite level. They have bigger guards who can switch on to bigger wings, wings who have the physical tools to guard across multiple positions, and bigs who are nimble enough to contain quicker guards.
The key will be for those players to continue to study NBA offenses and how to defend them. Another training camp and offseason could also strengthen chemistry, which is an underrated factor when it comes to defending at a high level.
It’s a sad day for Spurs fans, I’m sure. But there is a lot to be excited about. The team should lean into the youth movement, hope for continued development and fill out the roster with complementary pieces that spread the floor and defend at a high level. That is a recipe for a bright future.