NBA Season Preview: San Antonio Spurs

2019-20 Regular Season Record
: 32-39 (.451%), 11th in Western Conference, Missed Playoffs
Head Coach: Gregg Popovich

For the first time since the 1996-97 season, the Spurs missed the playoffs – bringing an end the franchise’s impressive run of 22 straight playoff qualifications, including 10 Western Conference Finals appearances, 6 Finals berths and 5 NBA Championships in all. DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge were the Spurs two best players once again – DeRozan averaged 22.1 ppg (53.1% FG shooting), 5.5 rpg & 5.6 apg while Aldridge had 18.9 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 2.4 apg with 1.6 bpg. The duo were able to drag the Spurs into the bubble, but weren’t able to put them over the hump and into the play-in game. For such a down year in San Antonio, there were a couple of other highlights that took place. On November 11, 2019 the Spurs franchise retired Tony Parker’s #9 to the rafters, alongside his fellow “big 3” members Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili. Another interesting side note was that Tim Duncan took over for Gregg Popovich on March 3rd in a game versus the Hornets and produced his first ever NBA head coaching win.

Can the Spurs get back to the Playoffs?

Looking at the teams in the West, it’s hard to figure out a spot where the Spurs can slot into the playoff picture. Did the Spurs get better in the offseason? DeRozan can be counted on for his typical scoring and play-making production. Although Aldridge’s scoring dipped last year, he is still a fine player who is adapting to the new NBA, as evidenced by his career-high 1.2 3-point makes on 3.0 attempts per game. However, he’s coming off a rotator cuff surgery and isn’t getting any younger. Is Jakob Poeltl anything more than a nice big off the bench? Patty Mills and Rudy Gay are good players and serviceable veterans, but don’t move the needle. Drew Eubanks, (undrafted free agent), Chimezie Metu (2019 49th overall draft pick) and Lonnie Walker (2018 18th overall draft pick) haven’t impressed many around the league with their play thus far. One player that has shown slow and steady improvement is Derrick White – but even his career high 11.3 ppg isn’t much to write home about. While it seems crazy to say, at this point, it's tough to see the Spurs beating out improving teams like Memphis, Phoenix and even New Orleans.

Tom's Take: San Antonio is going to be in the draft lottery back-to-back seasons for the first time in franchise history. 

Will DeMar DeRozan Finish the Season as a Spur?

While he re-signed with the Raptors the first two times free agency came around, it’s unlikely that he would re-sign long-term in San Antonio. With the Spurs likely not in the playoff picture come trade deadline, and DeRozan looking elsewhere after the season, it makes sense that the Spurs get value for him as a rent-a-player. There are always teams looking for a player to help them get over the top in the playoffs. DeRozan's services would be coveted, as he has played in 58 career playoff games, averaging 21.9 ppg, and is always a threat to take over a game and score 30+ points. 

Tom’s Take: DeRozan is traded at the deadline to a contending team in the East for a young player and pick.

Photo Credit: Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire