This has been the weirdest season ever for the San Antonio Spurs. We don’t get 50 wins for the first time since the 90s, our former best player only played nine games due to a quad injury that was mis-diagnosed, 3-point shooting wasn’t up to the team’s usual standards, Tony Parker is a Hornet (what?!) and most recently, said best player Kawhi Leonard, through his Uncle Dennis, forced a trade that ended him up in Canada instead of Los Angeles, and now we have DeMar DeRozan and Jakob Poetl on our team.
But this post isn’t about the past, its about the future, and the future is bright in my eyes in San Antonio. The Spurs have some impressive young prospects that have put in their time either in set roles or in the G-League and Summer League that I believe will make an impact throughout or at some point during the season.
Our young Point Guard is growing up in front of us and I can’t help but be proud of him (*shed’s tear*). This past season, his growth on the defensive end was rewarded by being named on the NBA All-Defensive 2nd Team (He got approval from the King, that’s how special he is on D). This year, improvements need to be made on the other side of the floor to really raise his game to the next level.
Last season his offensive repertoire was limited to dunks, layups, floaters and the occasional three that he made 26% of the time. His length and agility for a PG helped him to become effective in that regard but entering his third year in the league, he’s got to add more to become a better offensive player. There is video of him working on his 3 point shot so that’s always a step in the right direction:
With DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge doing the bulk of the scoring, it might not be required for him to do a lot of scoring, but the Spurs still need someone on their starting unit to stretch the floor on the offensive end. DeRozan and Aldridge do most of their damage in the midrange area, so having Dejounte out there with a consistent 3 point shot will do wonders in that starting lineup.
I’m going to be looking for that 3 point shot during the pre-season games and how he plays without Aldridge and DeRozan off the floor, if Popovich gives him that opportunity. I’m very eager as always to see Dejounte play and improve his game because I believe he’s going to be a great player in this league.
With Tony Parker off to the Hornets, it opens the door for G League finals MVP Derrick White to get a permanent spot on the SAN ANTONIO Spurs roster instead of going back and forth between the G League and the NBA.
The combo guard averaged 20.1 Pts on 45% shooting (32% from 3), 3.3 Ast, 5 Rebs and 1.3 Stls per game in 24 games started and then in 4 playoff games he averages increased except in the rebound department (25/4/5. 1.8 blocks and steals) and won the G League finals with the Austin Spurs including going off for 35 in game 1.
The previous Youtube video shows you why he’s ready to be on the Spurs roster come October. Need a scorer? He can drive the lane, finish with two hands, spot-up shoot and create his own shot to some degree. Need a playmaker? He’ll make some plays from time to time. Defense? At 6’5″ 200 lbs, he could defend 1s and 2s with some success.
Come pre-season, I want to see if DW’s overall game could translate to the NBA. I’m looking for him to be the main ball-handler coming off the bench when Patty Mills isn’t on the floor. Or maybe they could because they’re essentially the same player except Patty’s a little more feisty on D. Both could play on or off the ball and can spot up anywhere on the floor, so they could play off of each other.
If he could carry the momentum of his short but impressive Summer league play into the pre-season, we could be seeing a lot of play from another product of the Austin Spurs.
Lonnie Walker IV
Lonnie Walker was taken 18th overall in this year’s draft and was considered to be yet another steal that happened to fall into San Antonio’s lap. He’s 6’5″, 196 lbs with a 6’10” wingspan and a 40 inch vertical. So you’re already looking at the mould of a potential lockdown defender who could guard both 1s and 2s and could be a decent backcourt shot-blocker almost like how Danny Green was during his tenure with the Spurs. He’s also a shooter, with range out to the 3-point line (35% from 3 at Miami). He can also attack the basket with his handles and that 40 inch vert.
With his upside, there’s also facets of his game that needs to improve, such as his decision making, and his offensive polish. Looking at some games from his time in Miami, he’s a little too careless with the ball, he’s a streaky shooter and his shot-making needs to improve (42% from the floor) and he’s sometimes very lax on the defensive end. I expect Coach Pop won’t have none of that tomfoolery under his watch and Lonnie will develop into a great player, potentially one of the best players out of this draft.
The rookie from Reading, Pennsylvania has a big chip on his shoulder coming from the town that raised him. He’s well respected in the community and he would want to do right by them by performing at his best in arguably the best organisation in the NBA. If he plays to his potential, we could see a daunting back court pairing of Dejounte Murray and LW4 chasing perimeter players off the 3 point line, putting the clamps on some of the best players in the NBA; the potential to switch on to different defenders from the 1 to the 3. I admit, I didn’t know who Lonnie Walker was before the draft, but after looking at some videos, I can’t wait to see him on the floor.
Bryn Forbes is in a bit of a crossroads entering his third season with the Spurs. He signed a two year deal this offseason, but finds himself in a position where he might have to play his way back on to the roster.
Now I’m not suggesting he’s fallen out of favor with coach Popovich. Last season he saw an improvement in his production off the bench in shooting (42% from the floor, 37% from 3). The problem is going to be finding minutes amongst San Antonio’s somewhat crowded back court.
You got Dejounte and DeMar DeRozan starting at the 1 and the 2. Patty Mills is the backup PG with Marco Belinelli being an experienced shooter from deep. After them you have Derrick White who has more utility at both guard spots, Lonnie Walker IV who was just mentioned, as well as Austin Spurs G-League player Nick Johnson, fresh off a G-League championship with the aforementioned Derrick White.
I was banking on him to become the next Patty Mills: to be that injection of scoring off the bench and provide that lift the Spurs need when in scoring droughts. He’ll need to improve on the defensive end if he wants to stay on the court as well. He could be paired with Dejounte in the back court to help with spacing the floor if Murray’s 3 point shot still isn’t there yet. To me he’s going to have to prove, once again that he belongs on the roster and demands some minutes on the floor this upcoming season.
The Spurs 2nd Round Pick from this year’s draft, Metu is 6’11” 225 lbs. He’s an athletic big man that can get to the rim and finish with both hands. A good screen outlet player, he can roll to the basket after setting the pick or occasionally step out and knock down a jumper (he’s shown range to just inside the 3 point line). He also has decent footwork as a big man, showing the ability to faceup, dribble and drive to the basket. He didn’t post up a lot in college, but I would expect him to develop that part of his game with the Spurs.
An emphatic shot blocker as well, he’ll give San Antonio a more athletic option as a rim protector, although he might have to bulk up a little more to go against other NBA players. His 7 foot vertical might be a little on the short side but he can more than make up for it with a 36 inch vertical. He was also an ok rebounder but his size would definitely cause him to struggle against opposing NBA centers.
There’s a chance he could make the Spurs roster, as an energetic big man who could score and defend playing either the 4 or the 5. Most likely, he’ll play in the G-League and develop into a better scorer and low post defender. He doesn’t have the strength necessary to keep up with the Centers of the NBA, and his scoring, passing and rebounding would all need work before he could find regular minutes. The times he does get the call, look for him to be a versatile scoring big man, going strong to the basket, going for garbage points, getting active on the glass and block a shot or two. He could develop into a rotation big down the line but I’m interested to see how he develops within the Spurs system.
Here’s to me the most intriguing young Spur that needs to follow up a decent summer league with an even better pre-season to get a proper spot on the roster. A 6’7″ 220 lb. small forward out of Clemson, he was drafted in the 2nd round last year in the same draft as Derrick White.
In the G-League he averaged 16.5 points and 8.1 rebounds in 48 starts, with most of those points coming at the rim or inside the paint area. At his size with a 6’10” wingspan and a max vertical of 35.5 inches, he’s an explosive player that plays above the rim, with cuts to the basket, alley-oops, offensive rebounds and attacking the basket on the break. He’s solid defensively as well, blocking shots at the rim and those long arms can block passing lanes, leading to steals going the other way.
I’m looking for Jaron’s game to blossom this season (see what I did there?) either with the Spurs as a rotation piece or in his 2nd season with the Austin Spurs. The improvement definitely needs to come on the offensive end. He has to get better as a jump shooter and extend his range (30% from 3 in the G League last season). Right now he can’t stretch the floor and in today’s NBA that’s a must.
In the meantime, look for most of his points to come off assists from his teammates, either rolling to the basket, off missed jump-shots, on the fast break, cutting to the basket or simply muscling his way through defenders. On the defensive end, he has all the potential to be a lockdown defender. Size, length, athleticism, quick on his feet, anticipation, potential to switch on all perimeter players and maybe even stretch 4s. I’m excited to see him for pre-season and hopefully to play for the Spurs this season as well.