San Antonio Spurs: Best and worst-case scenarios for 2019-20

NBA San Antonio Spurs Demar DeRozan (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
NBA San Antonio Spurs Demar DeRozan (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images) /

Exploring the best and worst-case scenarios for the San Antonio Spurs as we inch closer to the start of the new NBA season

The San Antonio Spurs had a different feel last year, with DeMar DeRozan becoming their franchise piece after Kawhi Leonard was traded to the Toronto Raptors. Gregg Popovich’s team had a relatively decent campaign despite the departure of Leonard, finishing in seventh place in the Western Conference with a 48-34 record.

The Spurs ended up taking on the Denver Nuggets in the first round of the playoffs and took the No. 2 seed all the way to a 7th game, eventually losing. DeRozan had a solid year in his first season in the Lonestar state, leading the team in points per game with 21.2, along with LaMarcus Aldridge, who averaged 21.3.

DeRozan and Aldridge proved last year to be the two most important players on this team and a huge reason they were even able to make the playoffs. Between their ability to score at a high rate and their leadership to the younger players, they will continue to be vital to San Antonio’s success for this upcoming campaign as well.

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The Spurs roster looks very similar to last year, with a couple of additions such as DeMarre Carroll and Trey Lyles. They also locked up Rudy Gay to a two-year deal after one of his best seasons to date last year, where he averaged 13.7 points per contest on 40.2 percent shooting from downtown. Carroll will bring some versatility at forward, while the same could be said for Lyles.

This team has a solid mix of veterans and youngsters, and the hope will be that the young players such as Dejounte Murray and Bryn Forbes can reach new heights this season as this team looks to be a playoff contender in 2019-20.

Best-case scenarios for the Spurs

DeRozan and Aldridge played their part big-time last season, both averaging over 20 points per game. With DeRozan heading into his second season with the Spurs, naturally, he’s going to feel even more comfortable than he did last year.

That could result in DeRozan even having a bigger year for the Spurs, where he averages over 25 points a game. The 2018-19 campaign was DeRozan’s worst season from a scoring standpoint in the last four years, but it’s understandable. He had to learn a totally different offense, adjust to a new city after getting traded out of the blue, and also had to adapt to a different conference.

DeRozan’s numbers were by no means awful last season, but I do believe this year could be an All-Star campaign for him. He did average a career-high 6.2 assists last season, so expect DeRozan to continue to facilitate the ball at a high rate once again this season. As for Aldridge, he has been a consistent rim protector and scorer his entire career.

The 34-year-old will once again, been one of San Antonio’s most reliable bucket getters this season while offering leadership to the younger players, especially his second-unit center in Jakob Poeltl.

Heading into what will be his third NBA season, Bryn Forbes looks ready to be the Spurs starting shooting guard on a nightly basis. The former Michigan State standout started 81 of 82 contests last year at the position, averaging 11.8 points on 42.6 percent shooting from 3-point range.

Although undersized, Forbes is an extremely hard-working player on both ends of the court. He set career-highs in all categories in 2018-19 and don’t be surprised if he betters those numbers this upcoming season. If he can have a productive year, Forbes will emerge as one of San Antonio’s go-to scorers.

DeJounte Murray will be back from a season-ending injury that limited him to just three games last season. A former first-round pick out of the University of Washington, Murray has only played one full season in the NBA and that was in 2017-18, where he started 48 of 81 games. The 23-year-old is yet to average over ten points in a season, but now that he’s back and healthy, he should be able to serve as the backup point guard to DeRozan and veteran Patty Mills.

He has loads of potential but Murray has had a hard time staying off the shelf. Even if he averages around the eight points a game he did back in 2017-18, that amount of contribution alone is going to make the Spurs better than last year. His quickness and ability to get to the rim in a hurry bring a different style to the position than DeRozan which should keep oppositions on their toes.

Lonny Walker IV is another intriguing young player who the Spurs picked in the first round of the 2018 NBA Draft. He didn’t play much last season because of a knee injury, but he brings a similar skillset as Murray but to the shooting guard position instead. He’s a fast-twitched athlete who could be even quicker than Murray and will add some depth behind Forbes at shooting guard.

Any consistent scoring from him is just going to be an added bonus for this Spurs team this season as he heads into his first full NBA campaign.

Worst-case scenarios for the Spurs

There shouldn’t be any doubting that DeRozan and Aldridge will once again play their part and be the main two scorers and leaders on the Spurs. They won’t be the ones who make or break this season for San Antonio. It’s going to come down to the young talent on this team and how much they can contribute or if a starter gets injured.

Forbes looks to be on the come up, but if he has a down season compared to last, it’s going to hurt the Spurs chances of finishing above the seventh spot like last season. When it comes to players like Murray and Walker, any production from them would be great, but if they are non-existent, I don’t believe the Spurs would be any different than last season.

Rudy Gay continues to be a consistent scorer for San Antonio, as he’s been for most of his career. I think the only way this team doesn’t make the playoffs is if one of their main players gets hurt for a lengthy amount of time.

So if DeRozan, Aldridge, Gay, or Forbes goes down with a serious injury, it’s going to hurt their chances of making the playoffs. Sure, they have numerous intriguing young players, but none of them are at a point where they can carry this team to the postseason if one of their starters gets hurt for the remainder of the season.

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Adding two forwards in Carroll and Lyles could turn out to be valuable, but then again if they were non-existent, I still think the Spurs will end up sneaking into the playoffs. Like I said above, the only way this team won’t make the postseason is if one of their key players gets hurt.

If they can all stay healthy, I believe this Spurs team has more than enough talent to finish in the top eight in the Western Conference once again in the 2019-20 campaign.