The San Antonio Spurs have over a quarter of their season now in the rearview, and new questions are starting to emerge.
From a six-game losing skid to a four-game winning streak, we've been shown plenty of the good and the bad that comes with the Spurs' commitment to a full rebuild. We're also starting to get some ideas about the rotations Coach Gregg Popovich is comfortable with, although even that's likely to change as potential trades and healed injuries occur in the next few months.
With a majority of the season still ahead, it's time to examine some of the major questions, both short and long term, surrounding the future of the Spurs. Let's start with one that might not be answered until next year's NBA Draft.
1. Who is Coach Popovich's long-term choice for backup center?
Before the season, I gave my preference for what the big man pecking order should be for the San Antonio Spurs. Unsurprisingly, Jakob Poeltl was my choice to start at center, with Thaddeus Young, Jock Landale, and Zach Collins all being potential backups. I had Drew Eubanks as the third-tier backup.
Through a fourth of the season, I still feel the same about what the rotation should look like at the center position.
What we saw in Poeltl's absence due to COVID protocols was an abundance of Drew Eubanks, who has started more times this season (8) than he has in the three previous seasons combined. The result has been unspectacular. There was a particular time against the Boston Celtics that Coach Popovich pulled Eubanks quickly to allow Thaddeus Young to finish the game, and it's starting to look like that could be a turning point.
In the Spurs' six-game losing streak, Drew averaged 18.1 minutes. In their four-game winning streak, he played for seven minutes, followed by nine, four, and zero. I hate to pick on the guy, but in watching all the games, it's hard not to see a correlation.
Meanwhile, Young has been playing well in San Antonio and is doing all the little things to help win ball games in his stint with the Spurs. The writing seems on the wall that he's not going to be a long-term fit in the Alamo City though, so I don't think he's the answer to this question.
For now, the backup center battle for the full season and going forward will likely come down to Jock Landale and Zach Collins. For whatever reason, Landale hasn't been given much of an opportunity to show what he can do, which I've been fighting for often. I'm hoping he'll be given some run later in the season, because his signing would make no sense otherwise.
Zach Collins should hopefully be able to start playing in January or February and could add another wrinkle into the mix.
None of the backup options are super dazzling right now, so we could even be looking at a scenario where San Antonio finally picks up a big in the next draft to really shore up their frontcourt.