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NBA Daily: 2022-2023 Season Preview #9 – San Antonio Spurs


PhilBoxing.com




In this limited 30-part series, we shall be discussing each team’s latest developments, current roster, and future prospects in the upcoming 2022-2023 NBA season. For every team, we will examine bit-by-bit the important aspects that may shape its progress and provide a rough projection of how it will fare vis-à-vis its previous year’s performance and versus the rest of the league.

SAN ANTONIO SPURS

2021-2022 Season Win-Loss Record:

34-48

Depth Chart:

PG – Tre Jones, Joshua Primo, Blake Wesley, Jordan Hall
SG – Devin Vassell, Malaki Branham, Romeo Langford
SF – Keldon Johnson, Doug McDermott, Josh Richardson, Joe Weiskamp
PF – Jeremy Sochan, Gorgui Dieng, Keta-Bates Diop, Alize Johnson
CE – Jakob Poeltl, Zach Collins, Isaiah Roby

Injury Updates:

No significant injuries.

Head Coach:

Gregg Popovich

Headliners:

Two of the Spurs’ best players entering last season are now both with other teams in the East. Derrick White, who was traded to Boston before the trade deadline, was a crucial piece to the Celtics’ deep playoff run that ended in a runner-up finish in the recent NBA Finals. Meanwhile, All Star guard Dejounte Murray was then shipped off to Atlanta earlier this summer for a bevy of draft assets.

Essentially, San Antonio lost two of its top 3 scorers and its top 2 playmakers. They were also arguably the team’s best defenders, particularly on the perimeter. Lonnie Walker IV also left in free agency to sign with rival Los Angeles Lakers. Nonetheless, even with all these departures, the Spurs and its immediate future are better for it.

The departure of Murray, White, and Walker opens up a lot of opportunities for budding stars Devin Vassell, Tre Jones, and Joshua Primo. While there were notable departures, there are also quite promising arrivals. Apart from selecting guards Malaki Branham of Ohio State and Blake Wesley of Notre Dame with the 20th and 25th overall picks, respectively, the Spurs also selected Baylor forward Jeremy Sochan as the 9th overall pick in the 2022 NBA Rookie Draft. Then the Spurs also signed versatile big man Isaiah Roby off waivers this offseason.

Vassell could see a significant rise in minutes and usage rate this upcoming season. His defensive acumen has always been his best asset, but over the years, his shooting accuracy and shot selection have vastly improved as well. They should continue to improve, now that he’ll be expected to take on majority of the playmaking role, alongside Olympic Gold Medalist Keldon Johnson, who slides down to a more natural position at small forward.

Jeremy Sochan allows this shift in role for Keldon Johnson, as the latter is expected to start at power forward from the get-go. A starting lineup of Tre Jones, Devin Vassell, Keldon Johnson, Jeremy Sochan, and Jakob Poeltl will be a pest on the defensive end. Then a second five consisting of Joshua Primo, Josh Richardson, Doug McDermott, Isaiah Roby, and Zach Collins isn’t too shabby either. Much of the scoring, however, rests on the shoulders of Vassell and Johnson.

While it is a general consensus among pundits that the Spurs may be better off ‘tanking’ this year for a better chance at snagging generational talent Victor Wembanyama in next year’s NBA Rookie Draft, it is this writer’s opinion, however, that this year’s Spurs will be playoff-bound if they keep its core.

They now have front court size and depth. Zach Collins is currently quite healthy and could alternate with Jakob Poeltl at the center position. Isaiah Roby was also an underrated signing for the Spurs. The multi-faceted games of both Roby and Sochan will give the Spurs’ frontcourt so much versatility on both ends of the court.

The first half of the season will be pretty interesting for Gregg Popovich and his wards. Their performance early on will dictate the direction the franchise will be taking. If they surprise the league with more wins than projected, expect PATFO (Pop and the Front Office) to keep this core and try their best to contend, even if it means losing out on the Wembanyama-lottery. On the flipside, if they lose and hover below 0.500 on the win-loss column, then quite a number of these veteran pieces may be moved before the trade deadline in exchange for better draft odds, more draft assets and future trade flexibility.


Comments are highly appreciated. You may send them to reylanloberternos@yahoo.com.ph and you may follow me @reylan_l on twitter.


Click here to view a list of other articles written by Reylan Loberternos.


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