The San Antonio Spurs had quite the eventful offseason last summer as they shipped out Kawhi Leonard for DeMar DeRozan. They found success under their new shooting guard as they reached the playoffs as the 7th seed and were one of the teams favored to upset a higher seed. The Spurs ended up taking the Nuggets to the full seven games but simply weren’t able to get it done. The lineup will remain relatively the same this year though they did acquire DeMarre Carroll with a $13 million dollar contract over two years. He’s currently projected to be one of the first players off the bench for Coach Popovich.
After suffering an injury in last year’s preseason, Dejounte Murray will finally be ready to step back onto an NBA court and looks to help San Antonio reach greater success in the playoffs. He was a promising player that was just getting the hang of things but the injury put a huge roadblock in his journey to success. While we certainly can’t predict how he’ll adjust post-injury, he has the breakout potential to be a great all around guard for the Spurs system and should fit right back in. He projects for a 10 point season with the ability to pass for 4 assists and grab 6 rebounds per contest. If he isn’t quite ready to start the season fully healthy, expect Patty Mills to get some minutes at point guard.
Bryn Forbes will suit up as the opening shooting guard after starring mainly as a backup for the first two years of his career. With a full year’s of starter experience under his belt, he’s expected to have more of an impact this year and will look forward to building on his 11.8 points average. Additionally, he’ll have to be a better all around player as the 2.1 assists and 2.9 rebounds don’t exactly promise too much other average level production. However with Murray’s return, Forbes might see fewer opportunities and likely won’t be a huge factor in the starting rotation.
Slotting in as the small forward is Demar DeRozan who came via the Toronto Raptors last year. He played heavy minus last year and had possibly his best season to date. While he only averaged 21.2 points compared to the 23-27 he put up in his last few years with the Raptors, everything else about his game looked promising. He became a much more well rounded player and set career highs in assists (6.2) and rebounds (6). The shooting percentages were also up at 48.1%, the second highest percentage he’s had in his career. While DeRozan’s three point game disappeared, he began taking more jump shots inside the arc and became a much more efficient distributor and playmaker. He’ll be more comfortable with the offense in year two with the Spurs and I’d expect him to continue his efficiency while also increasing his scoring average.
Rudy Gay is back with San Antonio after securing a 2 year, $32 million dollar contract this offseason. While this may seem like a lot of money for a 13 year vet, Gay is the ideal player for the Spurs lineup that can switch and do a bit of everything. Last year, he averaged 13.7 points, 2.6 assists, and 6.8 rebounds. He may no longer be the 20 point scorer he was a few years ago but, Gay will still give the Spurs produtive minutes and versatility on both sides of the ball. He converted over half his field goals last year and shot an amazing 40.2% from deep. If he can keep up the same percentages while also taking on a larger shot volume, look for him to be one of their third options on offense.
The final piece to the San Antonio starting Lineup is LaMarcus Aldridge who’s coming off back to back All Star Game selections. He’s been one of the most stable players in the league and remains one of the game’s best interior players. Last season, he averaged 21.3 points and 9.2 rebounds while also putting up 1.3 blocks on the defensive end. In a second year with DeRozan, he’s likely to put up similar numbers as he remains a very good first option in the post and second option whenever DeRozan’s off the court.