San Antonio Spurs preview


Cesar Soto, Staff Writer

With the San Antonio Spurs completing their preseason, the squad can now look forward to the start of the regular season. After making many moves this offseason, the Spurs are looking to completely rebuild in a new and younger direction as they begin their 50th season as a National Basketball Association (NBA) franchise.

After losing All-Star point guard Dejounte Murray in a trade to the Atlanta Hawks and shooting guard Lonnie Walker to the Los Angeles Lakers, the Spurs now have new players looking to assume more significant responsibilities. More fresh faces are joining the team this year with three first-round draft picks, including Jeremy Sochan. The Baylor forward was selected ninth overall, making him the highest Spurs draft selection since Tim Duncan’s draft back in 1997.

The key players to watch this season are forwards Keldon Johnson and Devin Vassell. Following his breakout season last year, during which he averaged 17 points and six rebounds per game, Johnson signed a four-year, $80 million extension with the team. All eyes are now on him to see what he will do to develop as San Antonio’s primary option. Vassell is another young player looking to assert himself more in the Spurs’ offense this year. Averaging 12 points per game last year, he’s a 3-and-D player that will undoubtedly factor in how well the team performs this season. Young point guards Tre Jones and Joshua Primo will play a prominent role in the team’s development during the regular season, while learning how to orchestrate the Spurs’ offense properly.

The Spurs are not expected to make much noise this season, likely finishing at the bottom of the league’s standings, but this is best for the team’s future. Next year’s draft class is expected to be headlined by Victor Wembanaya, one of the most highly sought-after prospects in recent history and a player the Spurs would surely love to build around. Head coach Gregg Popovich himself has said not to expect great play from the Spurs this year, and while it is rare to hear a coach admit that, he is right.

Used to coaching championship-level teams, Popovich is tasked with a different role this year. The goal for him and San Antonio this year is to focus on their young guys’ growth and give them opportunities to learn the game and improve. With the help of veterans like center Jakob Poeltl and forward Doug McDermott, the Spurs will be able to determine how and with whom they move forward in their new direction. Even though they probably will not be the best team on the court in most games, Spurs fans should find plenty of interest in watching these young talents blossom.