Jock Landale Splits Starts with Poeltl
From day one, Poeltl will be the starting center. But Jock Landale brings a totally different skillset. He isn’t the defensive stopper that Poeltl is, but he is a true offensive weapon who can handle the ball and spread the floor.
I suspect the traditional center will continue to get more playing time, but if Landale has a big game early on, there’s no reason to limit the center position to just one type of playstyle. Having a traditional center in Poeltl and a more modern center in Landale allows for the Spurs to combine for a duel attack down low. Perhaps the two will frequently share the court.
In the first five games, I hardly expect Landale to play much. By the end of the first month, he should be a fan favorite and receive more than a fair share of minutes. If he shows up and shows out as a sharpshooter, then he could be inserted into the closing lineup. He can also be a ball handler. He does have some weaknesses, though. Poeltl is an elite rim protector while Landale is not.
I suspect both will average about 30 minutes a game, with only a little time where both play together.
The Spurs Go on a Tear in Early November
The first games the Spurs have in the month of November are against Indiana, Dallas, Orlando, Oklahoma City, and Sacramento. Aside from a probable loss against Dallas, the Spurs should annihilate in the other games.
Against Indiana, the Spurs should run free. Especially Dejounte Murray, who will be unguardable after he works his way inside the arc. He could easily drop over 25 points that night, and if he is unable to put the team on his shoulders, a combined attack by the guards should do it. Poeltl and Landale will have to deal with Domantas Sabonis, so a more defensive-minded attack will be used by the bigs.
After lighting up the Pacers, the Spurs have to play Dallas. Unfortunately, this could be a momentum killer, but if San Antonio keeps its head up, they should be fine for the next few games. The Magic have 11 guards on their roster. Unless Cole Anthony is a DPOY candidate and Jalen Suggs is one of the best rookie defenders ever, Dejounte Murray and the San Antonio Spurs guards will have an absolute field day scoring from deep, from midrange, or slashing to the basket.
I can very easily see Jalen Suggs having his “welcome to the NBA” moment in this game, after Murray torches him in the midrange, he might try and jump with Lonnie Walker IV, which is never a good idea. The Gonzaga star will get put on a poster.
The Thunder and the Kings are much of the same story. The Thunder really have no one aside from Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who is just one man and can’t stop the entire Spurs offensive plan. The Kings present a new challenge. Between De’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield, and Tyrese Haliburton, their backcourt is pretty intimidating.
Enter Jock Landale. Marvin Bagley III is not a defensive match. He’ll get shot over, torched off the dribble, and embarrassed in the post. This could be Landale’s “welcome to the NBA” moment, and he’ll think to himself how easy this league is. After four games where the guards have all the fun, now it’s time for Landale to show off why he’s the best offseason move San Antonio made.