San Antonio Spurs fans have a tough pill to swallow

Nov 30, 2022; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA; San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich talks to
Nov 30, 2022; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA; San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich talks to / Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

After going up by 17 at the half, the San Antonio Spurs collapsed down the stretch, falling to the Oklahoma City Thunder minus Shai Gilgeous-Alexander by a final score of 119-111. The Spurs only managed to put up 35 total second-half points after scoring a whopping 77 points in the first half. Thunder rookie Jalen (JDub) Williams put up an impressive 21 points, 3 rebounds, and 2 assists in his team's comeback win.

Understandably, this ended up turning into one of the team's toughest losses yet, particularly considering that Devin Vassell put up an efficient 21 points, 7 rebounds, and 2 assists in the losing effort. Many were quick to blame yet another inefficient scoring night from Keldon Johnson, others blamed Coach Popovich for some questionable rotations in the final minutes of the game, and some simply saw the game as a missed opportunity for Vassell and Johnson to take control of a winnable game that was slipping away.

Turning to the blame game is only natural after a tough loss, and it's especially easy to do in a season where the Spurs currently sit second-to-last in the Western Conference. But who's really to blame in the Spurs' latest 9-game skid?

The Spurs aren't a good basketball team this season (and that's okay)

Here's the reality check that nobody wants: the Spurs, collectively, are not a good basketball team. Their team defense is out of sorts regularly, they're having an incredibly difficult time shooting off the bounce (which we'll dive into further on a later date), and they have a tough time opening and closing games. That is a fantastic recipe for a losing streak that may not end any time soon. But perhaps the even more unpleasant fact is that this is a necessary step for a more desirable outcome in the future and that throwing blame around won't do any good.

Could the Spurs have found a way to keep Dejounte Murray on the roster even though an extension was highly unlikely? Possibly so, but that would have also meant that the Spurs would have needed to find him help quickly, meaning young players and draft picks would have been on the trading block. If that doesn't sound like a massive risk to you, I'd advise you to check in on the state of the Chicago Bulls this season for an example of that method going very wrong. And expecting the Spurs to perform just as well in their first season without Murray is optimistic at best.

Rebuilding or retooling--whatever you want to call it--takes time, and some of the most successful teams of the past couple of decades have partially or exclusively built their teams through the draft. And sometimes, if a team makes the wrong decisions in the draft, that rebuild can take a long time. It's very easy to forget that the Golden State Warriors--a team now seen as a perennial championship contender--experienced a 40-year championship drought before their first of four close-succession wins in 2015.

Next. Spurs News Roundup: Johnson is back, other players skid. dark

Does a high lottery pick guarantee that a team will find a superstar? No, but landing a high pick is about improving odds, not guaranteeing an outcome. And the statistics show that higher picks lead to good things. Taking the Spurs' success in that department over the past 3 decades or so into account, I'm willing to bet that the team hits on a player sooner rather than later. So I advise Spurs fans to ride the wave, enjoy small wins now and then, and hope for the best from the Spurs' current players and lottery odds in the near future.