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?
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
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.
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.
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
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!