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San Antonio Spurs: Should Poeltl remain in starting unit?

Jakob Poeltl - San Antonio Spurs v Dallas Mavericks
Jakob Poeltl - San Antonio Spurs v Dallas Mavericks / Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
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Jakob Poeltl, P.J. Tucker
Milwaukee Bucks v San Antonio Spurs / Ronald Cortes/Getty Images

Why the San Antonio Spurs may continue to start Poeltl

Although Poeltl isn't irreplaceable as a starter, he's still a top-15 starting center in the NBA. He's also just 25 years old and is on an affordable contract for the next two seasons. Furthermore, given his age and the improvement he's already made over his time with the Spurs, he may continue to improve next season as he adjusts to starting full-time.

If Poelt does continue to improve, then keeping him in the starting unit would bode well for the Spurs considering how well he played on defense this past season. After all, he ranked 3rd and 4th in the NBA in shots contested per game (14.4) and defensive field goal percentage (44.2%) respectively. For comparison, Defensive Player of the Year winner Rudy Gobert contested 17.1 shots per game and caused opponents to shoot just 41.9%.

Additionally, assuming San Antonio’s rumored pursuit of John Collins and Lauri Markkanen is accurate, then Poeltl’s presence in the starting lineup would be vital. Collins and Markkanen are both below-average defenders, and having Poeltl in the frontcourt with either of them would mask their shortcomings and allow them to focus on offense.

Although Poeltl is obviously much more crucial to the Spurs' defense, his offense is far from being a totally lost cause. He led the team in offensive rebounds last season, averaging an impressive 3.1 offensive boards in just 26.7 minutes per game, and was 3rd in the NBA in screen assists, averaging 5.6 per game.

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Ultimately, Poeltl should continue to start next season. While he isn't free from flaws, his strengths seemingly far outweigh them. He recorded a net rating of 3.2 this past season, which is good for 10th place out of all centers in the NBA that played at least 25 minutes per game. It remains to be seen whether he's the Spurs' starting center of the future, but for now, it should go without saying that he is by far the team's best option.