“It’s only the preseason." That’s the caveat that often gets used when discussing exhibition games, and that should be used when talking about the San Antonio Spurs preseason. Still, there are a number of interesting trends fans should keep an eye on as the regular season approaches.
Some are more relevant than others. For instance, the Spurs finished exhibition play above .500 with a 3-2 record. Yet, given the inexperience of the roster and that the team is entering a rebuild, that may be a trend that's unlikely to continue in the regular season. On the other hand, there are others that could. With that in mind, here are six intriguing preseason trends that Spurs fans should keep an eye on.
1. Keldon Johnson's strong performance
Keldon Johnson’s offseason work appears to already be paying off. In the preseason, he looked like a solid offensive weapon, one who looks comfortable operating as the ball-handler in the pick and roll.
Moreover, he's added a euro step and a hesitation dribble to his arsenal, helping him get into the paint more easily. While his outside shooting remains spotty, he's seemed more willing to take shots in the mid-range, even showing off a decent floater and a pull-up jumper that's still a work in progress.
On the defensive end, he's been solid and has done a good job of using his big frame to battle over screens and contain drives. All in all, Johnson has played well and appears ready to step up and emerge as the team's 3rd scoring option as well as providing hard-nosed defense.
2. Quicker play comes with good and bad results
San Antonio has played noticeably faster than last season and, with new personnel, there are other clear differences with how they've played. For instance, the Spurs averaged just 28.4 3-point attempts last season but attempted 35.8 per game in the preseason.
Were that to continue during the regular season, the team could rank in the top 10 in 3-point attempts after ranking in the bottom five in the last five seasons. While that would definitely be an improvement, they hit just 35.1% of threes, which is roughly equivalent to last season, where they were 24th in the NBA in 3-point percentage.
In regard to turnovers, they've been very sloppy with the ball, averaging 16.4 turnovers, up significantly from 11.4 per game last season. As for free-throw shooting, San Antonio averaged 17.8 attempts in the preseason, down from the 22 they averaged last season.
Based on these trends, San Antonio may end up being an uptempo team that takes a lot of threes and shoots them poorly, as well as struggling to get to the line, and struggling with turnovers.