Monday evening, the San Antonio Spurs will be hitting the court for competitive basketball for the first time in 139 days. Their last game, of course, was the narrow 100-96 defeat they suffered to the Memphis Grizzlies in the NBA's first full play-in tournament last season.
To say a lot has changed within the organization since that loss would be an understatement. While San Antonio lost its leading scorer and two key veterans in DeMar DeRozan, Patty Mills, and Rudy Gay, it also gained Doug McDermott, Bryn Forbes, Jock Landale, and a young, exciting prospect in Joshua Primo. Oh yeah, and Manu Ginobili is back in the building.
With this jumble of young guys, gone are the days of winning 50 games every season. Still, there are a lot of exciting things to keep your eyes on as the Spurs begin their slate of five tune-up games leading to their season-opener on October 20th.
1. Are the San Antonio Spurs finally going to let it fly?
If there's one thing I've been a stickler for with the modern-era Spurs, it's been their complete reluctance to adapt to the new era of NBA basketball. While Coach Popovich has never been a fan of the 3-point shot and has even called it gimmicky in the past, its importance has become an unavoidable certainty.
In the last two seasons, the Spurs were 28th in perimeter shots attempted and then dead last. Even being accurate in their limited attempts (fourth in percentage) didn't help them make the playoffs in 2020. Last season was a double whammy of poor 3-point shooting statistics, as the Spurs added to their poor attempt rate by finishing 24th in percentage.
Fortunately, offseason acquisitions, departing personnel, and the NBA Draft all will lend a hand to the Spurs being substantially better from beyond the arc this season. New additions to watch are Bryn Forbes and Doug McDermott, who have both established themselves as absolute snipers throughout their careers.
Australian NBL Final MVP Jock Landale had a superb shooting season for Melbourne in 2020-21, burying 38.9% of his triples, which would've led all rotation Spurs last season.
With Patty Mills gone, these new guys and established ones like Derrick White and Lonnie Walker will all need to be assertive and let it fly more than ever. The preseason is a perfect time to start.