After being acquired as a component of the 2018 trade that sent Kawhi Leonard to the Toronto Raptors, San Antonio Spurs center Jakob Poeltl spent his first two seasons with the team coming off the bench. That quickly changed this past season, though, when he finally became the Spurs starting center after LaMarcus Aldridge made his departure from the team.
In his newfound role, Poeltl didn't disappoint. As a starter, he averaged a solid 9.8 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks in 29.2 minutes per game. He emerged as one of the NBA’s best rim protectors and, at one point, even entered the conversation for the NBA's Defensive Player of the Year award.
With that in mind, though, Poeltl is far from being locked in as the Spurs' long-term starting center. Given that both Kai Jones and Alperen Sengun appear to be on the Spurs' radar for their 12th overall pick in this Thursday's NBA Draft, either player could easily fight for a starting role in the near future.
Since the answer to this question is far from being clear-cut, diving a bit farther into both sides of the argument is worth the analysis. Here, I'll briefly discuss why the Spurs may want to consider bumping Poeltl back to the bench, as well as why he could be the team's best option in the starting lineup next season.