San Antonio Spurs: Will the Spurs be a bottom-five team?

Aug 3, 2021; Saitama, Japan; USA head coach Gregg Popovich reacts on the bench as USA plays Spain
Aug 3, 2021; Saitama, Japan; USA head coach Gregg Popovich reacts on the bench as USA plays Spain / Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
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The San Antonio Spurs are looking at a less-than-30-win team for the first time in decades, according to the oddsmakers. Moreover, Las Vegas projects that the Spurs will end their season as a bottom-five team. If this were to occur, it would be the first time the Spurs land in the bottom five since the 1996-'97 season, after which the team selected Tim Duncan in the NBA Draft.

The 2021 San Antonio Spurs aren’t everyone’s cup of horchata. From the fans who are at a crossroads, happy with the youth movement or upset with the heap of veterans that walked this offseason, to the oddsmakers who once again make headlines with the Spurs projected to have a losing record for a second consecutive season, basketball fans don't expect San Antonio to make any noise. 

Led by the backcourt of Dejounte Murray and Derrick White, the Spurs haven't played much of a modern style of basketball throughout this new "pace and space" era of hoops. Shooting the fewest attempts from deep out of all NBA teams and cashing in at a below-average clip poses a problem for the Spurs this year. 

In addition to their shooting woes, the Spurs at this stage do not have a consistent go-to scoring option nor a go-to shot-creator in any given contest. Based solely on known commodities and a rollercoaster ride of shooting displays, the team understandably doesn’t project well this upcoming season. 

The Alamo City’s big show in town hasn’t seen postseason success since the 2017 season and is now coming off back-to-back non-playoff appearances for the first time in over two decades. Coupled by the fact that this will be one of the youngest groups in the team's history, the Spurs could find themselves well below .500 should things play out in a bad way. 

But all isn’t lost in the 210. There is good reason to be optimistic this season if you’re inside the Spurs organization or a Spurs fan, ready for this new chapter of hoops. 

The San Antonio Spurs may not be a team that can shoot the lights out of the basketball (yet), that dominates in the half-court with high-level reads from their point guards, and that can score in isolation with little effort. This season, though, they can find a way to win in a manner that just wasn't possible last year. 

Their money will be made on the defensive end of the floor this time around. The Spurs are much better equipped to play high-quality defense this season than they were last year and have the defensive upside that will potentially land them in the top 10 in various defensive metrics.

They may not be the high-powered offense that is seen in Atlanta or Brooklyn, but there will be anchors on that end of the floor that will keep this team in games despite their offensive question marks. 

This will be a prime reason as to why the Spurs will remain competitive in games and ultimately why their record won't land them in the bottom five of the NBA. As the saying goes, “defense wins championships” and, while San Antonio may not be ready for a title run, they have the necessary components to be one of the best defensive units in basketball. 

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