Surprising Spurs have accomplished something not done in 30 years
By Oscar Barkis
I’ll be the first to admit— I was wrong about how this Spurs team would begin the year. San Antonio, sitting at 3-2, has some speculating that the front office put the onus on Coach Pop to sit Devin Vassell and Josh Primo with injury designations just so that they could lose some games. Whether that’s true or not, the Spurs have surprised enough that the typically undercovered team got some attention online, and not just from Air Alamo
The beginning of what many believed would be a tanking season in the Alamo City has been a lot of fun for several reasons. First, with an average age on the roster of just over 23 years old, we’ve gotten to see the youth movement in full force. Second, the team has been competitive enough to surprise some playoff-bound teams, allowing us fans the opportunity to clown on bold opposing fan bases.
Third, and (in my opinion) most importantly, the Spurs have returned to their roots in terms of style of play. Post-Kawhi Leonard debacle, the team has had trouble establishing a true offensive identity. DeMar DeRozan and Dejounte Murray, the best players in San Antonio for the last couple of years, have led heliocentric offenses during their time with the Spurs.
DeRozan, in his most recent season in S.A., was top 40 in the league in terms of usage percentage; Murray was top 30 last year. This style of play works well with players such as Luka Doncic and Giannis Antetokounmpo. Nothing against the two former Spurs— they aren’t top 3 players in the world.
Small sample size, but the Spurs are sharing the ball a lot more so far this year. And when I say a lot more, I mean A LOT more. Per Jordan Howenstine, San Antonio’s 154 assists through 5 games are the most by a team in that amount of time since Phoenix had 157. In 1990. Not only are the Spurs shaking things up for their standards, but they’re resetting 30-year-old records.
I mentioned earlier that it feels like the Silver & Black are returning to their roots. San Antonio’s calling card for the majority of their dynasty was ball movement, so much so that they were deemed “The Beautiful Game” (if like me, you’re a passionate Spurs fan who could use a good cry, I’ve linked a great video below).
For the first time since about 2016, it feels like I’m watching the San Antonio basketball that I grew up on. Ignore that this is a Gorgui Dieng hype video and instead focus on how much the ball whips around in the fourth clip. Now, I don’t know about you, but that to me is gorgeous basketball.
Who knows what to make of the next 77 games of Spurs ball. The good guys are pacing records that haven’t been touched since almost 10 years before I was born. Let’s have some fun.