The Argument that the San Antonio Spurs succeeded
13th place. That was the forecast by ESPN on the San Antonio Spurs heading into the season just months after last year's squad halted a 22-year playoff streak. But in typical Spurs fashion, Pop and co. trumped modest projections early in the season.
In fact, in mid-February, the Spurs were 16-11, firmly in the 5th-6th range in the West, had all momentum going for them, poised for a postseason return after a one-year sabbatical. However, just as the team started clicking and firing on all cylinders, COVID-19 reigned down on the Silver and Black, disrupting their rhythm, causing lineup instability and igniting an unfortunate chain of events.
Mind you, San Antonio was no happy camper upon the release of their second-half schedule. Frankly, it's the most brutal calendar stretch in the NBA I've seen since I started watching basketball. Unforgiving back-to-backs, consecutive four games in five nights, the outright death of practice, and a barrage of games against contenders were the main culprits in the Spurs' collapse — and all these were out of their control.
However, despite the exhaustive list of adversities, the Spurs were still there with a chance to make the playoffs. But how they even got there through difficulties is what makes this season a relative success no matter the end result.
The 2020-21 San Antonio Spurs season is a success and here's a simple reason: this squad is undeniably better than the previous year's uninspiring mix of dangling pieces. After exuding organizational confusion between sticking to their old, rusty guns and mobilizing their unproven yet talented pieces, this season has seen the franchise attain a semblance of direction.
The youth movement is starting to blossom in the Alamo City as the likes of Dejounte Murray, Derrick White, Keldon Johnson, Lonnie Walker, and Jakob Poeltl are starting to realize their potential as a collective. While the veterans still soaked up a good chunk of minutes, it was mostly to provide the young core with mentors that will help them down the road.
The young core is gaining steam, the defense is better, the veteran leadership is making some positive waves and well, they're still the San Antonio Spurs. Their competitive brand of rebuilding is off to a rocky start, but hey, much of the harked disappointments from fans are just extensions of them being spoiled after winning for so long. It takes a village and the Spurs are just getting started.