McDermott has started in every single game he’s played in this season and has slightly outperformed the preseason expectations laid out for him. He consistently drops double-digit points, routinely hits well over two shots from 3-point land a game, and his off-ball movement and shocking athleticism under the basket is a welcome addition to the starting five.
As a career bench player, he averages roughly 21 minutes a game, and in San Antonio, he is only getting 24 minutes of runtime a night. He is, by no means, leading the team in minutes, but the fact that Popovich allows him to set the tone for the game will probably not be the case in the future.
Other starting options may be too appealing
This is not me calling for Doug McDermott to get traded away from the Spurs. He signed a three-year deal and I would honestly like to see him play out all three seasons there. However, he is 6’7” and not particularly good on defense or at rebounding, and the Spurs need a traditional power forward to pair with Jakob Poeltl.
Between Keldon Johnson and Devin Vassell in the starting lineup, there is enough shooting, so adding Paolo Banchero, Miles Bridges, or even Drew Timme to the starting five as a more traditional power forward makes the most sense.
On top of that, the bench unit next season will probably consist of Tre Jones, Joshua Primo, and Lonnie Walker. All of these guys are ball-dominant players who are streaky at best from deep. Adding an elite shooting threat to this bunch would make a lot of sense and would take some scoring pressure away from Zach Collins.
McDermott would fit so much better with the second unit, and his role with the first five is slowly diminishing as Devin Vassell continues to develop and Keldon Johnson remains hot.
McDermott is at the point in every role-player's career where the future remains uncertain. I’m willing to bet he was not promised the starting job when he signed a three-year, $40 million contract, so returning to the bench was probably always his expectation, anyway.
His average of 24 minutes a game this season might not change much, as he would be the most consistent player in the second unit and would still see the court plenty.
There is no reason for San Antonio to keep him in the starting five permanently, but he would continue to bring a lot to the team if his role shifted just a little.