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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San Antonio Spurs
Lonnie Walker IV - Detroit Pistons v San Antonio Spurs / Ronald Cortes/Getty Images

The San Antonio Spurs will adopt a more modern, dynamic offense

While the Spurs will be missing out on key offensive contributors with the loss of Patty Mills, DeMar DeRozan, and Rudy Gay, they will be forced to adopt a new philosophy with the influx of new and unestablished talent. 

Luckily for them, this offseason proved that they’re looking to play a more modern sense of basketball. Their moves in the offseason foreshadow a team that will likely see an improvement in their spot-up shooting from deep, their pace of play on the court, and their production in the pick and roll. 

Now that San Antonio has a plethora of athletes who can slash and play out of the pick and roll, along with some newcomers that add spot-up shooting to the equation, their personnel is tailor-made to fit modern basketball. 

The Spurs have always been a heavy pick and roll team, but now they will give the reigns of pick and roll ballhandling duties to the likes of Walker, White, Murray, and even Tre Jones. They each provide a unique skillset out of the pick and roll, with different aspects of their game shining in their own respects. 

Murray and Walker seem most comfortable as pull-up mid-range scorers out of the pick and roll, with the ability to make simple reads out of the action. Tre Jones, on the other hand, was one of the better pick and roll players in college basketball during his time at Duke.

Although he wasn’t able to score at a high clip out of the pick and roll, in his sophomore season he averaged .84 points per possession out of the action as a scorer and .94 points per possession as a passer. His facilitating ability will be huge for a team that needs playmaking.

Lastly, Derrick White is one of the best pick and roll ball handlers in all of the NBA. In 2019 when he was last healthy, the 70-million dollar man placed in the 86th percentile as a pick and roll ball handler. He can make magic happen out of the pick and roll, whether it means taking a pull-up midrange jumper or feeding the ball to the roll-man out of the action. 

Simultaneously, the Spurs have also significantly upgraded as a spot-up shooting team. This past season, the team only placed in the 20s in both spot-up and catch and shoot stats, gaining only 1.01 points per possession off spot-up attempts at a near 27-percent frequency. 

Adding McDermott, Aminu, and Bryn Forbes, who are proven catch-and-shoot three-point shooters when healthy, is key for a team that desperately needs well-established outside shooters present in their half-court offense to keep defenders honest on the perimeter. In case that isn't enough, the Spurs now also have one of the best off-ball shooters in the country in Joe Wieskamp, who should be able to carve out a role for himself on the team rather quickly. 

Because the Spurs didn’t have many go-to three-point shooters this past season, having more outside shooting available at their disposal this season should make a dramatic impact in more ways than one. Rather than the young Spurs players having to take tough, contested shots near the bucket, they'll have shooters to kick the ball out to off of drives. This is yet another reason why fans should feel optimistic about the team being able to remain outside of the bottom five in the NBA. 

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