If the San Antonio Spurs are going to shock the basketball world this season, it's going to be on the backs of some improved players. The current roster is the first one Gregg Popovich has ever had as a head coach that doesn't boast a past NBA All-Star. Historically, that doesn't usually bode well toward team success.
Still, there's a universe in which the San Antonio Spurs see one or more of their fringe star guys take a leap, lead them to a decent record, and potentially have the team back in play-in contention for the third straight year. Of course, that will require improvements upon weak spots leading back to last season and beyond.
There's a reason these Spurs have received limited accolades in the NBA so far, and that's due to areas of improvement that need addressing to make them more complete players.
Heading into the 2021-22 NBA season, the Spurs now have their roster set for the time being (although a trade before February 10th is very possible). As they look to right the ship in a rebuilding phase, here's one area every player needs to focus on addressing going forward.
Zach Collins must work on his foul-happy defense
I wanted to go with "stay healthy" for Zach Collins here, but that's not really something in his control. Looking at his limited time on the court, his tendency to foul sticks out. On a per-36-minute basis, he's averaged 4.6, 4.6, and 4.5 personal fouls in the last three seasons. That was more than anyone on the Spurs last year, with Drew Eubanks' 4.2 coming the closest.
Collins' fouling troubles began in his lone year at Gonzaga, as he averaged 6.2 fouls per 40 minutes. That came to bite him in the national championship game, as his minutes were severely limited due to early fouls. North Carolina went on to win the title over his Bulldogs.
The Spurs' bigs already have their issues with bigs being whistled for cheap moving screens, most notably Jakob Poeltl and Drew Eubanks. They'll need Collins to make his fouls really count and avoid the ticky-tack ones he frequently has been called for in his career.