After seasons of fighting for a spot in the play-in and toeing the line between contention and consigning themselves to the draft lottery, the San Antonio Spurs finally drew a line in the sand this summer.
The tipping point came when the Spurs dealt their homegrown All-Star point guard Dejounte Murray to the Atlanta Hawks for three first-round pick swaps, a pick swap, and Danilo Gallinari. Gallinari was quickly waived and would eventually end up with the Boston Celtics.
Rumor has it the Spurs aren't done yet. They have plenty of talented veterans who could help a contending team for the right price. But assuming that guys such as Jakob Poeltl, Josh Richardson, and Doug McDermott are around at the start of the season what should the Spurs do with them? Specifically, how would it impact the Spurs' potential starting lineup?
Should Spurs continue to start Doug McDermott next season?
Doug McDermott's first season in San Antonio was a mixed bag. When he was healthy, he was a valuable contributor, starting in every one of his 51 appearances while filling a crucial role as one of the Spurs' few reliable 3-point shooters. But the best ability is availability and in that regard, McDermott fell well below Spurs fans' aspirations, as he missed over 30 games over the course of the season.
I might catch some flack for this but, assuming he's healthy, I see no reason McDermott shouldn't be in the Spurs' starting lineup for the '22-23 season. Some Spurs fans might want the team to fully devote themselves to the youth movement and start Jeremy Sochan right out of the gate, but that might not be the move. At least not at first.
This team is incredibly young. That youth does bring excitement and potential but it also brings inexperience. And with eight NBA seasons under his belt, McDermott is the most seasoned player on the roster at this point. As important as getting the young guys minutes is, it's equally important not to discount the benefits of having a seasoned veteran on the floor to guide newer players through situations they haven't seen before and offer continual support as they adjust to the speed of the NBA.
Additionally, while starting Sochan might be fun, it would also seriously cramp the floor for the Spurs guards. Sochan might develop into a solid 3-point shooter in time but right now, he's still a fresh-faced rookie who shot just under 30 percent from behind the arc in college. Pairing him alongside the paint-bound Jakob Poeltl would severely limit driving lanes for the Spurs wings and guards.
Finally, the more impactful experience for the Spurs' young players is going to come at the end of the game, not the beginning. Being given the starting nod can surely do something for a young player's confidence - let's not undersell what a vote of confidence from Gregg Popovich can do for someone - but if I had to pick, I'd rather see the Spurs go young at the end of games rather than right out of the gate.
In an ideal world, McDermott wouldn't even be on the Spurs roster to start the season. My preference would be that he's traded in a deal that helps San Antonio pick up another first-round pick. But if he's going to be on the roster, I see no issue with him being in the starting lineup to start the season.