Well San Antonio Spurs fans, we finally did it. After years of debating whether or not it was time to embrace the youth movement, the Spurs went all in. And I mean all in. The Spurs open next season with no LaMarcus Aldridge, no DeMar DeRozan, no Rudy Gay, and not even Patty Mills. Honestly, it's probably the right call. At the very least, it solves what was last year's biggest growth obstacle for the team, that nasty logjam the team faced which prevented it from developing its young core.
The thing is, now the entire roster is young. Returning Spur Bryn Forbes is 28. Derrick White is still just 27. And the team (with a couple of exceptions) just gets younger from there.
That's not a bad thing, but what it does mean, is that instead of the team's best prospects competing for playing time against an old guard of proven veterans, they replaced it with a surplus at those same spots with all young players.
Again, this is a good thing and exactly the type of problem the Spurs want to have right now. But it also means regardless of whether you are "Team Compete" (with realistic expectations) like me, "Team Tank" and hopes to draft the next Tim Duncan, or fall somewhere in between, this season needs to, at the very least, serve one essential purpose: determining possible franchise cornerstones.
The reason this is so important is because the Spurs have a ceiling so long as the minutes rotation, roster composition, and offensive and defensive strategies all remain at the fairly neutral compromise it is right now. Everything from free agency acquisitions, future trades, to the offensive and defensive sets the team runs all hinges on who the team decides to build around.
The Spurs are right on schedule to do exactly that this year. So here's to hoping for an awesome year of roster development and evaluation. While it's way too premature to gravitate toward certain players, here are my super early predictions for the Spurs' top four franchise cornerstones currently on the payroll.