The positive outlook on the Kawhi Leonard-less Spurs is that last year, without their best player, they still won 47 games and snuck into the playoffs as the 7th seed. But the team that finished 9th in the West, Denver, won 46 games.
The reality is, the 2018-2019 season is going to be extremely difficult. If Manu Ginobili retires, as reports suggest he is leaning towards, San Antonio will go into next season without five of its 10 best players.
Tony Parker – Signed, Charlotte
Manu Ginobili – Retired (?)
Kyle Anderson – Signed Memphis
Danny Green – traded, Raptors
Kawhi Leonard – traded, Raptors
And it’s not just the losses. The guys who were left behind include 33-year old LaMarcus Aldridge (can he duplicate what was a career year?) and 38-year old Pau Gasol.
Where is the 3-point shooting? Not in the backcourt.
I have the Spurs out of the playoffs. So does Las Vegas, which ranked San Antonio 9th in the West.
Their best 3-point shooting wing might be Marco Belinelli, but he can’t defend anyone. If you don’t believe that, go see what happened to him in the Boston series, where he was a total non-factor after having a strong series against Miami. You simply can’t play Belinelli and Gasol at the same time, or defensively you’ll get obliterated.
Everyone in San Antonio is excited for DeMar DeRozan, a 4-time All-Star. It’ll be interesting to see if he’s an All-Star in the West. Everyone knows he can score – his mid-range game is deadly. But defensively, DeRozan is terrible. Of the 107 shooting guards who played enough to register on defensive real plus-minus, DeRozan ranked 84th.
It’s a good thing his backcourt mate, Dejounte Murray, ranked 1st among point guards. But it probably helped to have Danny Green (5th among shooting guards in defensive real plus-minus) next to him.
Perhaps Gregg Popovich will prove me wrong. Maybe Jakob Poeltl is a revelation, and Lonnie Walker makes 1st team All-Rookie.
But the guess here is they miss the playoffs.