The biggest “yeah but” with this summer’s Pau Gasol signing was how much the Spurs would struggle defensively with Gasol on the floor instead of Tim Duncan. One of the main worries was specifically how San Antonio would hold up against the 1-5 pick and roll when teams focus on attacking Tony Parker and Gasol.
There may not be a better test drive this preseason than the Detroit Pistons who, even without starting PG Reggie Jackson (out for 6-8 weeks with tendinitis), will likely look to keep that dynamic to their offense front and center. With Andre Drummond, Detroit still has one of the NBA’s best rim-runners, and Ish Smith is quick enough to spell Jackson as a PnR playmaker.
The Detroit bench will look familiar to most Spurs fans. Aron Baynes and Boban Marjanovic were whisked away by Van Gundy Godfather offers in consecutive offseasons, and Ray McCallum is also in there providing depth at point guard after being waived by San Antonio in February of last season.
The Spurs kept a number of key players back in San Antonio for their preseason opener against Phoenix. There’s been no news of that as of yet, which should more reps for Gasol and the rest of the new arrivals as the team works to build chemistry in the lead-up to the regular season opener in two weeks against the Warriors.
There are still those five guys on non-guaranteed contracts. Patricio Garino and Ryan Arcidiacono were both DNPs against Atlanta, and I imagine they’ll get some run tonight since they haven’t been waived yet.
This would be a fun game to watch but, as has been the case for much of this preseason, we may need to rely on a few highlights and eye-witness accounts to learn how it all went. It makes the term ‘exhibition game’ a little ironic, but what are ya gonna do.