The San Antonio Spurs find themselves below average in the NBA; far removed from their glory days of winning NBA titles every few years. Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobli are many years removed from the NBA, and Kawhi Leonard is on the Los Angeles Clippers with Paul George. DeMar DeRozan, who had been with the team for a few seasons, has turned into an MVP caliber player on the Chicago Bulls playing alongside Zach LaVine and Lonzo Ball. Meanwhile, the Spurs are left with an aging coach in Greg Poppovich, a little bit of talent at the guard positions, and a questionable future. The question is, what should be the goal of the San Antonio Spurs this season, and how should they approach the future?
The best player on the Spurs roster is Dejounte Murray, and it’s not even close. Murray’s really stepped it up this year, averaging 17.8 points, 8.4 rebounds, and 8.8 assists per game; all career highs. Derrick White is another solid point guard, and the Spurs are solid at the forward positions as well. Keldon Johnson is the best three-point shooter in the entire NBA at this point in time, Thaddeus Young brings a bruising defense to the paint, and Zach Collins can stretch the floor. Except for these players and a few other notables like Doug McDermott, the Spurs don’t have a lot of depth. It’s no wonder the team is 14-22, and one glaring weakness for the team is their lack of talent at the center position.
The team’s current starting center is Jakob Poeltl, and while he’s averaging 12.4 points and 8.7 rebounds, I don’t think he’s the Spurs’ big man for the next decade. Since the Spurs are 14-22, they are tied for the 11th seed in the Western Conference, and I think they should do something that might as well be from a foreign culture: tanking.
Not intentional tanking, like the Thunder or Rockets. However, if the Spurs can get better odds, then there’s a greater chance of a higher draft pick, and there are some solid power forward/center prospects in 2022. We’ve learned from recent years you don’t need the best odds to get the first pick, so in theory, if things go well, the Spurs could try to make a play-in push and still get a top pick.
Personally, I like the idea of Chet Holmgren, the Gonzaga big man who stands at 7’0″ and plays both power forward and center. Poppovich is great at mentoring younger players, and at 19 years old, Holmgren has lots of time to develop. People are highly focused on Jabari Smith and Paolo Banchero, but I think Holmgren could be the best player in the upcoming draft, and dare I say: the next Tim Duncan. If the Spurs can get Holmgren as their big man, keep Murray as their point guard, and draft another special player within a few years, then the team could be back in the playoffs before anyone knows it.
I’ve heard some Ben Simmons trade rumors for the Spurs, and while I understand why people like the idea of Big Ben in San Antonio, I personally don’t. People have pointed to San Antonio not being in the national spotlight, Poppovich being willing to bench Simmons without worrying about being fired, and just simply being able to focus on basketball. On the other hand, we’ve seen a player force his way out of San Antonio by not playing for a season, and that player is Kawhi Leonard. His refusal to play may have cost the Spurs a chance to win a few more championships, as perfectly outlined in this video. If I were running the Spurs front office, I would still have PTSD from the Leonard drama, and with so many assets required to pull off the trade, I’d stay away.
In conclusion, I’d spend the year tanking but be discreet about it, develop the young players, do everything in my power to draft Wembanyama, and be smart with other draft picks so that I could create a new young core to rule the NBA for decades. But what do you think San Antonio should do? Let me know in the comments below, don’t forget to follow the NBA Blog, and as always, have an awesome day!