San Antonio Spurs: NBA season schedule, preview and roster 2018

While the Spurs still have a superstar in Kawhi Leonard, do they have enough to compete with the elite in the much-improved Western Conference?

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Offseason Recap

Arrivals: Rudy Gay, Brandon Paul, Joffrey Lauvergne, Darrun Hilliard, Derrick White

Departures: Jonathon Simmons, Dewayne Dedmon, David Lee, Joel Anthony 

The Spurs had one of the more confounding offseasons in the league. While their main Western Conference rivals significantly added to their rosters, they primarily stood pat. They had intended to go hard after Chris Paul in free agency after Pau Gasol opted out of his deal to make more cap space, but ended up with recent G Leaguer Brandon Paul instead.

They didn’t seem to know quite what they would do next after missing out on their top target, and Rudy Gay, who is coming off a torn Achilles, ended up being their most impactful addition. They also added Joffrey Lauvergne and rookie Derrick White, and re-signed Gasol to a questionably rich contract. Meanwhile, the Spurs lost Jonathon Simmons and Dewayne Dedmon, two key contributors on the rotation last year.

After all that’s gone down in San Antonio this offseason, it might be fair to ask whether head coach Gregg Popovich has enough talent on his roster to truly compete in the stacked Western Conference this year.

Projected Depth Chart

C – Pau Gasol / Joffrey Lauvergne

PF – LaMarcus Aldridge / Rudy Gay

SF – Kawhi Leonard / Kyle Anderson / Davis Bertans

SG – Danny Green / Manu Ginobili / Bryn Forbes / Derrick White

PG – Patty Mills / Tony Parker / Dejounte Murray / Brandon Paul

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Strengths

The Spurs are basically a machine in the regular season. They are impeccably prepared by arguably the best head coach in the league and they continuously rack up wins by outsmarting and out-executing their opponents on both ends of the floor.

San Antonio are consistently one of the best defensive teams in the league and once again finished on top in defensive efficiency last season. Popovich’s men are outstanding in terms of cleaning up the boards, while also forcing a good chunk of turnovers and hardly putting their opponents on the free throw line. 

It also helps that they have one of the best individual defenders ever in Leonard. The two-time Defensive Player of the Year is an absolute lockdown defender, while Danny Green is also an outstanding wing defender. The Spurs also protect the paint incredibly well despite lacking a commanding presence in the middle.

On the other end of the floor, few teams are as good at passing and sharing the ball when the Spurs are running on all cylinders. The Spurs don’t shoot as many three-pointers nowadays, but they still hit an impressive amount of them thanks to their strong shooters like Green, Patty Mills, and Leonard. 

Speaking of Leonard, he has continued to get better and better and is now one of the most efficient go-to scorers in the game. The small forward has kept up his streak of upping his scoring average each year he’s been in the league after putting up 25.5 points last season. He’s a legitimate MVP candidate and is growing into the sort of player that can almost single-handedly carry the Spurs to greatness.

Weaknesses

The Spurs are a little short in terms of frontcourt depth. The 37-year-old Gasol is slated to start at center and apart from Joffrey Lauvergne, Pop’s roster doesn’t really have another body to back them up. LaMarcus Aldridge could play some center in emergency situations, although he does not like it there.

On the topic of depth, the Spurs may have a good number of bodies on their backcourt depth chart, but there are a good deal of question marks. Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili are both well past their primes, Bryn Forbes and Paul may not make the jump from the G League to the NBA, and while Dejounte Murray showed promise in flashes during last season, he’s also far from a sure thing. 

They brought in Rudy Gay to provide more offensive versatility, but if he can’t return to his old self after suffering an Achilles injury, the Spurs could be heavily reliant on Leonard to carry the offense for stretches, particularly in the postseason.

Meanwhile, they lost two of their most athletic players in Jonathon Simmons and Dewayne Dedmon, who were also capable defenders. San Antonio are good enough to overcome their athletic deficiencies during the regular season, but it could come back to bite them in the playoffs, where the games become tighter and that extra bit of athleticism counts more.

Player to Watch – Dejounte Murray

The Spurs are amazing at developing unheralded players into stars, and Murray might have the best shot of being the next one in that long line. The 21-year-old played sparingly as a rookie last season, but he did show brief flashes of his potential.

Murray had a particularly notable game in the playoffs against the Houston Rockets. In a closeout Game 6 on the road, the 21-year-old recorded his first career double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds. He also added five assists, two steals, and a block.

It’s those types of performances that the Spurs will need to get more consistently from the incoming second-year guard going forward, especially as Parker continues to age and decline. 

2017/18 Schedule

1 Oct 18, 2017 vs. Minnesota Timberwolves    

2 Oct 21, 2017 @ Chicago Bulls    

3 Oct 23, 2017 vs. Toronto Raptors    

4 Oct 25, 2017 @ Miami Heat    

5 Oct 27, 2017 @ Orlando Magic    

6 Oct 29, 2017 @ Indiana Pacers    

7 Oct 30, 2017 @ Boston Celtics    

8 Nov 2, 2017 vs. Golden State Warriors    

9 Nov 3, 2017 vs. Charlotte Hornets    

10 Nov 5, 2017 vs. Phoenix Suns    

11 Nov 7, 2017 vs. Los Angeles Clippers    

12 Nov 10, 2017 vs. Milwaukee Bucks    

13 Nov 11, 2017 vs. Chicago Bulls    

14 Nov 14, 2017 @ Dallas Mavericks    

15 Nov 15, 2017 @ Minnesota Timberwolves    

16 Nov 17, 2017 vs. Oklahoma City Thunder    

17 Nov 20, 2017 vs. Atlanta Hawks    

18 Nov 22, 2017 @ New Orleans Pelicans    

19 Nov 25, 2017 @ Charlotte Hornets    

20 Nov 27, 2017 vs. Dallas Mavericks    

21 Nov 29, 2017 vs. Memphis Grizzlies    

22 Dec 1, 2017 @ Memphis Grizzlies    

23 Dec 3, 2017 @ Oklahoma City Thunder    

24 Dec 4, 2017 vs. Detroit Pistons    

25 Dec 6, 2017 vs. Miami Heat    

26 Dec 8, 2017 vs. Boston Celtics    

27 Dec 9, 2017 @ Phoenix Suns    

28 Dec 12, 2017 @ Dallas Mavericks    

29 Dec 15, 2017 @ Houston Rockets    

30 Dec 16, 2017 vs. Dallas Mavericks    

31 Dec 18, 2017 vs. Los Angeles Clippers    

32 Dec 20, 2017 @ Portland Trail Blazers    

33 Dec 21, 2017 @ Utah Jazz    

34 Dec 23, 2017 @ Sacramento Kings    

35 Dec 26, 2017 vs. Brooklyn Nets    

36 Dec 28, 2017 vs. New York Knicks    

37 Dec 30, 2017 @ Detroit Pistons    

38 Jan 2, 2018 @ New York Knicks    

39 Jan 3, 2018 @ Philadelphia 76ers    

40 Jan 5, 2018 vs. Phoenix Suns    

41 Jan 7, 2018 @ Portland Trail Blazers    

42 Jan 8, 2018 @ Sacramento Kings    

43 Jan 11, 2018 @ Los Angeles Lakers    

44 Jan 13, 2018 vs. Denver Nuggets    

45 Jan 15, 2018 @ Atlanta Hawks    

46 Jan 17, 2018 @ Brooklyn Nets    

47 Jan 19, 2018 @ Toronto Raptors    

48 Jan 21, 2018 vs. Indiana Pacers    

49 Jan 23, 2018 vs. Cleveland Cavaliers    

50 Jan 24, 2018 @ Memphis Grizzlies    

51 Jan 26, 2018 vs. Philadelphia 76ers    

52 Jan 28, 2018 vs. Sacramento Kings    

53 Jan 30, 2018 vs. Denver Nuggets    

54 Feb 1, 2018 vs. Houston Rockets    

55 Feb 3, 2018 vs. Utah Jazz    

56 Feb 7, 2018 @ Phoenix Suns    

57 Feb 10, 2018 @ Golden State Warriors    

58 Feb 12, 2018 @ Utah Jazz    

59 Feb 13, 2018 @ Denver Nuggets    

60 Feb 23, 2018 @ Denver Nuggets    

61 Feb 25, 2018 @ Cleveland Cavaliers    

62 Feb 28, 2018 vs. New Orleans Pelicans    

63 Mar 3, 2018 vs. Los Angeles Lakers    

64 Mar 5, 2018 vs. Memphis Grizzlies    

65 Mar 8, 2018 @ Golden State Warriors    

66 Mar 10, 2018 @ Oklahoma City Thunder    

67 Mar 12, 2018 @ Houston Rockets    

68 Mar 13, 2018 vs. Orlando Magic    

69 Mar 15, 2018 vs. New Orleans Pelicans    

70 Mar 17, 2018 vs. Minnesota Timberwolves    

71 Mar 19, 2018 vs. Golden State Warriors    

72 Mar 21, 2018 vs. Washington Wizards    

73 Mar 23, 2018 vs. Utah Jazz    

74 Mar 25, 2018 @ Milwaukee Bucks    

75 Mar 27, 2018 @ Washington Wizards    

76 Mar 29, 2018 vs. Oklahoma City Thunder    

77 Apr 1, 2018 vs. Houston Rockets    

78 Apr 3, 2018 @ Los Angeles Clippers    

79 Apr 4, 2018 @ Los Angeles Lakers    

80 Apr 7, 2018 vs. Portland Trail Blazers    

81 Apr 9, 2018 vs. Sacramento Kings    

82 Apr 11, 2018 @ New Orleans Pelicans  

Prediction

As dangerous as it is to doubt Pop and the Spurs, this might finally be the year where they take a bit of a step back. But even though a slight step back for them should still be very good, perhaps around the 55-win mark, that could mean dropping to fourth in the West.

It’s hard to shake the feeling that despite Popovich’s brilliance, they may not have enough to work with on their roster compared to the Rockets or the Thunder, much less the Warriors, come the postseason. While definitely not impossible, it’s unlikely the Spurs make it back to the conference finals this year.

Do you think the Spurs will still be a top contender this season? Let us know in the comments below!

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