Spurs Roster

San Antonio Spurs: Building the Most Athletic Lineup

Keldon Johnson - Detroit Pistons  v San Antonio Spurs
Keldon Johnson - Detroit Pistons v San Antonio Spurs / Ronald Cortes/Getty Images
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San Antonio Spurs
Devin Vassell - Phoenix Suns v San Antonio Spurs / Ronald Cortes/Getty Images

Small Forward - Devin Vassell

I know what you may be thinking: having a knock-down shooter in an athletically inclined lineup makes no sense. Well, Vassell won’t be a shooter in this instance. He might be too skinny to overpower anyone for now, but his 6’10” wingspan and impressive jumping ability allow him to put anyone on a poster.

If this past season is any indicator then his defense should be exceptional and, with him and Murray shutting down opponents in the backcourt, opposing offenses should easily get the ball stolen or blocked at the rim. 

Even in lineups that prioritize athleticism over skill, practicality is important. If Vassell opts to be a more traditional 3-and-D player, this lineup will be more well-rounded and competitive. On the other hand, if Vassell were to buy into the idea of beating other teams purely using his athleticism like the others in this lineup, it would be a ton of fun to watch San Antonio play more bruising basketball.

Either way, Vassell fits in perfectly. He adds even more length, speed, and play above the rim. He also elevates an already good defense. 

San Antonio Spurs
Keldon Johnson - United States v Iran Men's Basketball - Olympics: Day 5 / Matthias Hangst/Getty Images

Power Forward - Keldon Johnson

I think we all knew that Keldon Johnson would have to fit in somewhere in this lineup. He plays with more energy and enthusiasm than, well, anyone I can think of personally. Plus, he didn’t earn the moniker “Big Body” for no reason.

Even though Johnson is playing out of position here and is a bit undersized for a power forward, he’ll be going up against slower players than most traditional wings. This should help to elevate his defense, and particularly his blocking ability. Last year, he averaged .3 blocks per game. Per 36 minutes with this lineup, that could easily skyrocket to 1.5 per 36 minutes.

Johnson may be the only player in this lineup who struggles to get rebounds, but his hustle should make up for any shortcomings. He’s only 6’5” and will be going up against bigger guys, but he’s also incredibly strong. He could almost be thought of as a baby Zion Williamson in that regard. When someone like Al Horford inevitably gets a rebound over him, Johnson can simply rip the ball away.

Due to his undersized nature at the four, Johnson may struggle to score as well. Scoring won’t necessarily be his primary job, though. Murray, Walker, and Vassell would all likely be trying to get to the basket for a dunk, and at least two of those guys can shoot the ball as well. Who better than “Big Body” to set a pick and make their trip a little easier?

Johnson, like just about everyone else listed here, is also a good leaper, so he can roll to the hoop off the ball and catch lobs.