The San Antonio Spurs made one of the biggest moves of the offseason as they sent Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green to the Toronto Raptors for DeMar DeRozan and Jakob Poeltl. That combined with the departure of Tony Parker and the retirement of Manu Ginobili, make this a far different Spurs team than we’ve seen in a number of years. This team finished 47-35 last year, but their win total is set at just 44.5 wins this season. This is definitely a transition year for this team and there are a lot of questions heading into the season. The reduced win total makes sense.
[geocode id=2]I am not buying it though. The Spurs machine is a machine for a reason, it doesn’t quit. Last year’s team won 47 games without Kawhi Leonard for all but nine games. They did it with a brand of basketball that is hard to compare to other teams.
They were in the bottom four of three point attempts per game last year and the only “name” talent they had were LaMarcus Aldridge, Rudy Gay, and an aging Pau Gasol. Only the most ardent basketball fans know the names of most of these guys who contribute and it’s hard to quantify them in the same way that you would another team.
That said, let’s keep it simple. This team won 47 games last year without Kawhi Leonard and they replaced him with a 2x All-Star and 4x All-NBA guard in DeMar DeRozan. Is DeRozan’s upside as high as Leonard’s? No. Does he fit well into the identity of this team? Absolutely. We aren’t comparing the two players, we’re trying to figure out how good the team from last year would be minus Parker and Ginobili, plus DeRozan, Marco Belinelli and Jakob Poeltl. I think that team would be pretty good.
Dejounte Murray will take over as the point guard here and I don’t think the Spurs would’ve done that if they didn’t believe he was ready. He only averaged 21.5 minutes per game last year, but if you look at his Per 36 numbers it paints the picture of a great, young point guard. 13.5 points per game, 4.8 assists, 2 steals and 9.5 rebounds. Something close to that would be fantastic this season.
Murray was a late round pick for the Spurs that they developed into this. Many people have the same hopes for their top pick this season, Lonnie Walker. Some people think he’s a dark horse Rookie of the Year candidate, but I just can’t see the Spurs giving him that much playing time. They’ll bring him along slowly just like they did with Murray and Kawhi Leonard.
This will be a veteran led team and they will play great defense. Their offense won’t be in the top 15 even, but they will get it done. They will force teams to play their style and they will win. Gregg Popovich is the best coach in his league and I believe this team will easily outdo this win total. They play hard every night.
[geocode id=5]NBAVin’s Pick: Bet Spurs Over 44.5 Wins