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San Antonio Spurs 2020-21 Season Thread: Puro Pinche Loteria


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46 minutes ago, Radical Larry said:

Pop better not stash Vassell here all damn season.

I saw a note somewhere that they might be hesitant/resistant to move guys back and forth to Austin because of Covid. Makes sense from an exposure standpoint. That obviously doesn't prevent Pop from burying Vassell on the bench but it is something to think about. 

One other thing to watch.... Derrick White is eligible for an extension. If they don't re-sign him until after the season, he's got a small cap hold and with LA, DDR, Mills and Gay off the books, they will have chingas cap space. If they do hold off and he blows up, he's going to cost them a lot more money. So, they have a decision to make. 

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For anyone who wants to watch, there’s a stream on the Spurs app. 
 

Halftime analysis: Trey Lyles sucked, Dejounte is still not a point guard, Lonnie is the new icy-hot, Demar’s new hair style is straight fire, LA still jacking threes, Patty is as bad in this game as he was good in the last, we really miss White, and Devin Vessell is fucking awesome. 

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Vassell is niiiiiiice. Always in the right place at the right time and he doesn't seem to force anything. He'd be such a nice complementary / glue guy on a good team. As much as his calling card is on defense, he's not a great one on one defender. His close outs aren't really effective and he doesn't consistently stay in front of his man. But he's going to create a ton of havoc off ball in the passing lanes and with his help defense. His outside shooting is a huge bonus so far. I hope he keeps it up. 

I feel bad for Trey Lyles. Now that Forbes is gone, he's going to be on the receiving end of a lot of fan ire. From me. Let me be the first to extol his suckiness. He's like a taller, less effective Richard Jefferson but on a better contract.

This team is going to lose a lot. Their defense is fairly atrocious, they take terrible shots on offense, don't finish well at the rim and they don't have many (any?) knock down shooters. Really, really looking forward to White and Johnson getting back and see what they really have. They have the potential to be fun and likewise the potential to be really depressing. 

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26 minutes ago, Mitch Cumsteen said:

Vassell is niiiiiiice. Always in the right place at the right time and he doesn't seem to force anything. He'd be such a nice complementary / glue guy on a good team. As much as his calling card is on defense, he's not a great one on one defender. His close outs aren't really effective and he doesn't consistently stay in front of his man. But he's going to create a ton of havoc off ball in the passing lanes and with his help defense. His outside shooting is a huge bonus so far. I hope he keeps it up. 

I feel bad for Trey Lyles. Now that Forbes is gone, he's going to be on the receiving end of a lot of fan ire. From me. Let me be the first to extol his suckiness. He's like a taller, less effective Richard Jefferson but on a better contract.

This team is going to lose a lot. Their defense is fairly atrocious, they take terrible shots on offense, don't finish well at the rim and they don't have many (any?) knock down shooters. Really, really looking forward to White and Johnson getting back and see what they really have. They have the potential to be fun and likewise the potential to be really depressing. 

Same here. And I'm going to hate on Rudy Gay a lot. And Dejounte Murray. And Lonnie Walker when he plays like ass, so like 40 games at least. And Lamarcus if he keeps up his preseason 25% shooting form. Fuck. Maybe with all of this extreme suck going around we can get Cade Cunningham or Evan Mobley

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Yeah, Vassell ain't getting stashed. I mean, I said this days ago but tonight should cement it.

21 minutes ago, Kermit said:

Goddamn, this team will be lucky to win a fucking game. 

We're making the playoffs. I'll pour you a glass of koolaid.

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2 hours ago, Mitch Cumsteen said:

Vassell is niiiiiiice. Always in the right place at the right time and he doesn't seem to force anything. He'd be such a nice complementary / glue guy on a good team. As much as his calling card is on defense, he's not a great one on one defender. His close outs aren't really effective and he doesn't consistently stay in front of his man. But he's going to create a ton of havoc off ball in the passing lanes and with his help defense. His outside shooting is a huge bonus so far. I hope he keeps it up. 

I feel bad for Trey Lyles. Now that Forbes is gone, he's going to be on the receiving end of a lot of fan ire. From me. Let me be the first to extol his suckiness. He's like a taller, less effective Richard Jefferson but on a better contract.

This team is going to lose a lot. Their defense is fairly atrocious, they take terrible shots on offense, don't finish well at the rim and they don't have many (any?) knock down shooters. Really, really looking forward to White and Johnson getting back and see what they really have. They have the potential to be fun and likewise the potential to be really depressing. 

Yea, he's going to actually struggle a little with on the ball defense, but his team defense is very strong.  Totally agree about his top end glue potential.  I'm trying to think of someone he can compare to.  Not the length of Tobias Harris.  I've seen some Kris Middleton comps and it doesn't resonate.  Maybe like an Iggy type player?

 

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6 minutes ago, Patrick Bateman said:

Yea, he's going to actually struggle a little with on the ball defense, but his team defense is very strong.  Totally agree about his top end glue potential.  I'm trying to think of someone he can compare to.  Not the length of Tobias Harris.  I've seen some Kris Middleton comps and it doesn't resonate.  Maybe like an Iggy type player?

 

The way he moves reminds me of DeRozan.

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9 hours ago, Patrick Bateman said:

Yea, he's going to actually struggle a little with on the ball defense, but his team defense is very strong.  Totally agree about his top end glue potential.  I'm trying to think of someone he can compare to.  Not the length of Tobias Harris.  I've seen some Kris Middleton comps and it doesn't resonate.  Maybe like an Iggy type player?

 

Iguodala is who I thought of, but we forget what a freak of nature he was when he came into the league. I don't think Vassell has near that amount of athleticism but I can definitely see the comparison to later versions of Iggy. How about Paul Pressey? 

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4 hours ago, Mitch Cumsteen said:

Iguodala is who I thought of, but we forget what a freak of nature he was when he came into the league. I don't think Vassell has near that amount of athleticism but I can definitely see the comparison to later versions of Iggy. How about Paul Pressey? 

Right.  Iggy was a physical beast and so you'd have to say a poor man's Iggy from an athletic end.  Pressey?  Damn..... way back.  I'll admit I don't remember that much other than watching old games and highlights.  IIRC, Pressey was like the first point forward of all-time.  He had some insane playmaking back in the day for a wing.  I don't think Devin has that skillset, at least right now, but could grow into it.  But, definitely a good comp from basketball IQ.  Maybe our own Sean Elliott.  Sean had more dribble drive to his game but transitioned into a glue, 3 point, with a little more offense.  Devin has more defense especially steals.

 

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Agreed. Pressey was a next level playmaker for his teammates and Vassell doesn't quite have that, although he's showed me more in that area than I thought he had. But the way that Pressey just fit in... he didn't need the ball to be effective and he always seemed one step ahead on defense. I thought the Sean Elliott comparison was off until I started to really think about it and yeah... it does make some sense. I actually thought of another Spur, Alvin Robertson. Alvin was a much more tenacious on the ball defender but he was a killer off the weak side jumping the passing lanes. 

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Paul Pressey was the original point forward
.  Those were some good Bucks teams with Moncrief, Sikma, and of course Terry Cummings. 
Speaking of Terry Cummings, that may have been my favorite Spurs trade of all time.  I remember going from the Alfredrick Hughes/Walter Berry days to David Robinson, Sean Elliott Mo Cheeks, and Terry Cummings coached by Larry Brown????!!!! It was bizarro Spurs world for a while. 

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I've only seen one preseason game but he reminds me of Jason Richardson with a little less length and minus Richardson's ability to jump out of the gym.

Both big gangly guys that could shoot and were good in transition. Both a little awkward putting the ball on the floor in traffic.. but not Danny Green awkward. I think Vassell is a bit more willing defender, but that's an effort thing. They even both have that same high release point shot.

I'd be pretty thrilled to get a career similar to his from the #14 pick.

This post reminded me of that GSW series against Dallas when he and Baron Davis upset them 8 vs 1 seed. One of my favorite non-Spurs series' ever. I've never seen an NBA crowd like that Warriors home crowd even to this day.




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Here's Hollinger's spurs write up from the athletic. There's nothing in here that everybody doesn't already know but he did refer to Drew Eubanks as "bouncy". 

 

Editor’s Note: From here until Dec. 21, the day before the NBA season begins, we’ll unveil two team previews from The Athletic’s John Hollinger, who will be analyzing teams going into this season on a variety of factors.


The last word on last year

  • 32-39, 11th in Western Conference
  • 9th in Offensive Efficiency (112.4)
  • 25th in Defensive Efficiency (113.5)

It was three-quarters of an extremely depressing season before the Spurs finally showed some life late in the year. Locked into a veteran roster that was a longshot to get back to the playoffs for a 23rd straight season, the Spurs nonetheless kept plugging away at it one 20-foot 2-pointer at a time. The Spurs led the league in midrange Js by a wide margin, led by veterans LaMarcus Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan, but were last in shots at the rim and 29th in 3-point frequency.

That system was the main target of fans’ ire, but while the Spurs’ offense seemed antiquated, it actually wasn’t terrible. The Spurs were able to draw fouls at a high rate and had the league’s lowest turnover rate, so overall they were able to finish ninth in offensive efficiency.

The 25th-ranked defense was a much more vexing problem. The Spurs weren’t egregiously bad in any one category but struggled to force turnovers and surrendered high percentages both inside and outside the arc. Aldridge’s best days were well behind him on that end, and the Spurs lacked stoppers on the wings. Dejounte Murray, who made All-Defense in 2018, seemed to take a step backward too. Below-average defenders littered the depth chart. The lone positive exception on that end was charge magnet and stealth shot-blocker Derrick White.

Bigger picture, things were weird all around. Backup guards White and Patty Mills were far better than the players starting ahead of them but came off the bench all season. Ditto for power forward, where Rudy Gay stayed behind Trey Lyles. Marco Belinelli had a guaranteed rotation spot despite his glaring ineffectiveness. Backup center Jakob Poeltl was often more robust in the middle than Aldridge and a decade younger but played just 18 minutes a game.

However, two changes brought some optimism for the future. First, Aldridge discovered he could get an extra point if he shot from 23 feet instead of 22 feet. Starting with a Dec. 28 game against Detroit, he took at least three 3-point attempts in 13 straight games, dramatically shifting the equation of both his own scoring efficiency and opponents’ willingness to guard him out there. The Spurs were a more respectable 12-13 in the final 25 contests Aldridge played.

Then, in the bubble, the Spurs shifted gears further and went all-in on their young guys. Finding minutes for Keldon Jonson and even two-ways Drew Eubanks and Quinndary Weatherspoon made you wonder why they were messing around with Belinelli and Bryn Forbes all year; the bubble Spurs went 5-3 while providing some genuine inspiration in what had seemed a pretty hopeless season.

Offseason summary

The Spurs, as ever, were pretty bland:

  • Drafted Devin Vassell (11th) and Tre Jones (41st)
  • Re-signed C Jakob Poeltl for three years, $26 million
  • Re-signed C Drew Eubanks for three years, minimum, with one year guaranteed
  • Signed SF Keita Bates-Diop and PG Quinndary Weatherspoon to two-ways
  • Waived PF Chimezie Metu
  • Did not bring back SF Marco Belinelli and SG Bryn Forbes

The Spurs are $1 million from the tax line (presuming they waive Tyler Zeller’s non-guaranteed deal) and have an open roster spot, so they could promote either Weatherspoon or Bates-Diop from their two-ways at midseason. They also have nearly the entire midlevel exception left.

With so little action, the biggest moves were the ones they didn’t make. Aldridge, DeRozan, Mills and Gay all are 30-somethings on expiring contracts who are still good enough to help an already good team win but are no longer good enough to drag a team like this one into the playoffs.

There had been some discussion that the Spurs could use DeRozan or Aldridge as “assets” to move up in the draft, but that was always going to be wishful thinking: Their contracts are far beyond their production at this point.

The players in a nutshell

PLAYER THE SCOOP
LaMarcus Aldridge, C
Can still score but has lost defensive mobility.
Drew Eubanks, C
Bouncy big man emerged as contributor in bubble.
Rudy Gay, PF
Still an effective player at 34 and post-Achilles.
Keldon Johnson, SF
Hard-playing young forward can attack rim.
Tre Jones, PG
Steady PG with some size but iffy shot.
Trey Lyles, PF
Appropriately named Canadian made 38.7 percent from 3.
Patty Mills, PG
32 but speed and shooting still befuddle opponents.
Dejounte Murray, PG
Less zip but shooting showed promise in post-ACL return.
Jakob Poeltl, C
Old-fashioned center was nonetheless very effective.
DeMar DeRozan, SF
De facto point guard with near-comic disdain for 3s.
Luka Samanic, PF
Advertised as a project and sure played like one.
Devin Vassell, SG
Plug-and-play 3-and-D guard but must hit weights.
Lonnie Walker IV, SG
Cool highlights but needs to master the ordinary.
Derrick White, SG
A star in the bubble and beyond if he shoots consistently.
K. Bates-Diop, SF (2w)
Combo forward wasn't half-bad in Minnesota.
Q. Weatherspoon, PG (2w)
Defends well but can't keep passing up shots.

Likely lineup and projection

Rate = BORG projection for points per 100 possessions above (or below) replacement
Rank = Projected BORG rank among players at the position with at least 150 minutes in 2020-21
Value = BORD$ projection for 2020-21
(R) = Rookie, no projection

Starters
POS PLAYER RATE RANK VALUE ($M)
PG
2.76
21
15.5
SG
3.72
10
19.6
SF
2.02
18
13.7
PF
1.67
27
7.9
C
0.78
44
5.7
Rotation Reserves
POS PLAYER RATE RANK VALUE ($M)
PG
2.31
24
11.5
SG
(R)
(R)
(R)
SF
1.72
29
8.0
PF
1.56
29
8.3
C
3.17
14
13.1
The Rest
POS PLAYER RATE RANK VALUE ($M)
PG
(R)
(R)
(R)
SG
0.72
50
3.9
PF
--
--
Min
C
0.37
62
2.6
2w
--
--
Min
2w
0.05
65
1.8

Burning questions

Would you rip off the Band-Aid already?

It’s been clear for two years that the Spurs need to start over, and they finally took some steps in that direction with their approach toward playing the younger players in the bubble.

However, that was easier because Aldridge was out and the team was already on the periphery of the playoff race. With Aldridge and DeRozan both back and still the two best shot-creators on the roster, it creates an odd dynamic where those two, Mills and Gay will likely dominate the offense even as they have virtually no role in the team’s future.

One yearns for the Spurs to start Murray, White, Johnson, Lyles and Poeltl together and see what happens, but that won’t be happening right away. It’s a complicated dance, of course. San Antonio shouldn’t be in a hurry to throw its veterans overboard for just anything when it could recoup valuable draft capital for them at the trade deadline, but one hopes they won’t blot out all the playing time daylight for the likes of the five players above, plus Vassell and Lonnie Walker.

Regardless, the day after the trade deadline, the core of the Spurs’ rotation should consist of seven first-rounders from the last five drafts — Vassell, Murray, White, Johnson, Poeltl, Lyles, and Walker. If that isn’t the case, something has gone horribly wrong.

Hovering over all this is the future of coach Gregg Popovich. An all-time great, he can stay as long as he likes, but he also turns 72 in January. Needless to say, he will be a tough act to follow, but the Spurs need to at least think about what a succession strategy might look like. That’s already underway in the front office, where longtime CEO R.C. Buford, a mere pup at 60, has turned over much of the day-to-day responsibilities to general manager Brian Wright.

Are these young guys any good?

The Spurs’ history of drafting and player development speaks for itself, but the pipeline hasn’t been quite as active the past few seasons. There’s a good reason for that: They’ve been sifting through the leftovers every year. Getting Murray and White with consecutive 29th picks, two years after getting Kyle Anderson 30th, is a pretty impressive run. Johnson, the 30th pick in 2020, already looks like he could be another late-first find for this organization.

And yet it’s not enough. San Antonio is at a point where it needs to yield more than just rotation-caliber players because there is no Tim Duncan or Kawhi Leonard to support the foundation. It’s a tough ask for a team that hasn’t picked in the top 10 this century, and ironically the Spurs’ recent success may work against them here. Most likely, players such as White and Murray will be just good enough to keep them out of the high lottery places.

White is now 27 — old enough that the Spurs might have to contemplate his trade value rather than paying him in an extension — and he is the best player of the bunch. Johnson and Murray look like keepers, but both have much to prove as shooters before we can lock them in as core starters on a good team. Vassell is in a similar vein — almost certainly good enough to play immediately but lacking the upside to propel this team forward.

Oddly the two highest recent draftees have been the most disappointing. Walker and Luka Samanic still haven’t gained much traction, with Samanic in particular struggling even in his G League minutes. Walker is only 22 and can jump and shoot, but his on-ball wildness and defensive attention have kept him from emerging; he also shares his teammates’ addiction to non-paint 2s. Samanic, taken eight spots ahead of Johnson, looks like a bust. Deeper on the roster, players such as Jones, Eubanks and Weatherspoon have established realistic pathways to becoming back-end rotation players but have almost no chance of moving the needle.

The Spurs have other means of finding a centerpiece talent, most notably a tsunami of cap space that will wash ashore in 2021, but this was a tough place to recruit free agents even when the team was awesome. Developing their own star remains the most plausible pathway, but that player doesn’t appear to be on the current roster.

Outlook and prediction

One hopes to see more of the exciting Spurs of the bubble and less of the muddle that preceded it, but that seems unlikely until the Spurs inevitably find new homes for their four veteran stalwarts. Maxing out their trade return should the No. 1 short-term goal for the franchise.

Until then, they’ll have an impact on the Spurs’ win-loss record, but none on whether this season should be considered a success or not. The key variables will be the development of the key young players I mentioned above, and whether those players can be part of the next long playoff run in San Antonio.

While they wait for the other shoe to drop, Spurs fans can look forward to the league’s cleanest cap sheet ($65 million in cap room) and a roster with seven first-round picks age 25 or younger. Regardless of whether Popovich sticks around to coach them, this year feels like the low point before the Spurs rise up again.

Prediction: 31-41, 13th in Western Conference

(Photo: Soobum Im / USA Today Sports)

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12 minutes ago, Assman said:

Everytime I come to my mom's house in SA I go through a few boxes from my yute. This box was 1 of 3 of 80s and 90s sports memorabilia. Found some sick Spurs and Iguanas (RIP) gear. d947407d4f23d30162f148037296938d.jpg

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Dude... what? You just have boxes like that randomly sitting around? Are you a collector?

Just what's in that picture has to be at least $1,000 of merch.

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Dude... what? You just have boxes like that randomly sitting around? Are you a collector?
Just what's in that picture has to be at least $1,000 of merch.
Nah dude. Just a sports nerd. I would buy all kinds of shit as a kid with my allowance and keep it in the package.

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35 minutes ago, Assman said:

Nah dude. Just a sports nerd. I would buy all kinds of shit as a kid with my allowance and keep it in the package.

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Well... you're a collector now. I mean seriously, I would at least get that stuff valued and insured. Idk about the toys and shit but those graphic tees are getting really popular and can be worth a lot if they're in new condition like it looks like they are. Potentially the jerseys, too.

@Assman here's a decent PC for that D Rob MVP shirt. This one looks really similar.

https://www.grailed.com/listings/9058308-nba-x-vintage-1995-nba-mvp-david-robinson

Edited by ztejas
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3 hours ago, Horny Bull said:

 

This nugget got lost in the memorabilia pics, but this is pretty huge for the Spurs. The numbers seem big, but that's the going rate these days. If he can stay healthy, this is going to look like a bargain in the next few years.  Even with his age, White seems to keep getting better and better, and this deal takes him through age 30.  They are still going to have a ton of cap room going forward. It's nice to see the homegrown guys stick around and continue to grow.

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13 hours ago, Mitch Cumsteen said:

This nugget got lost in the memorabilia pics, but this is pretty huge for the Spurs. The numbers seem big, but that's the going rate these days. If he can stay healthy, this is going to look like a bargain in the next few years.  Even with his age, White seems to keep getting better and better, and this deal takes him through age 30.  They are still going to have a ton of cap room going forward. It's nice to see the homegrown guys stick around and continue to grow.

Yeah. It's a great contract. Like you said, I wish he was 3-4 years younger but were that the case we'd be paying twice as much.

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