Which new addition (besides Pau Gasol) will have the biggest impact next season?
Michael Erler: It has to be Dewayne Dedmon by the process of elimination, right?
I don't expect anything from Livio Jean-Charles, whom I simply don't think is an NBA-caliber player, nor from David Lee, whose defense is too much of a liability to risk rotation minutes in the postseason. Lee didn't crack Rick Carlisle's playoff rotation in Dallas after all, and Carlisle had considerably fewer quality options up front than Popovich will. Davis Bertans, I believe, is a younger version of Matt Bonner, for better and ill, minus the endearing personality. Since the actual Bonner played very little for the Spurs the past few seasons, I see no reason to expect his replacement to, especially as an NBA rookie. The same goes for Dejounte Murray, a 19-year-old combo guard stuck behind Tony Parker and Patty Mills at the one and Danny Green, Manu Ginobili and Jonathon Simmons at the two. I figure the bulk of his playing time will be in Austin, except for call-ups to the big club for games Parker misses due to injury or rest.
That leaves Dedmon, the only other legitimate "big" on the roster aside from LaMarcus Aldridge and Pau Gasol. Lee, Jean-Charles and Kyle Anderson are all listed as 6'9 and Bertans at 6'10, but none of them have the rim-protecting potential of Dedmon. The Spurs figure to play small quite a bit and will have several "stretch four" options, but will still need a shot-blocker out there for the times Aldridge and Gasol, who both figure to start, will be on the bench. Murray will be the guy the team invests in most as far as development for the long term, but for the 2016-17 season Dedmon has to be the newcomer they rely on over all others, outside of Gasol of course.
Eli Horowitz: Dewayne Dedmon. Besides Pau Gasol, Dedmon is the only true center on the Spurs roster. Ready or not, Dedmon will have to play a significant role backing up an aging Pau Gasol. Additionally, Dedmon may be called upon if Gasol is injured or if the team needs defensive lineups to close games. While Dedmon is not well-known, he played for three teams in 2013-2014 before remaining with the Magic the last two seasons, he has gotten better in each of his three NBA seasons. Dedmon's player efficiency rating has risen each year with numbers of 10.7, 13.3, and 17.0 respectively. With the league average being 15, he is steadily improving.
Dedmon played in just 58 games last season, averaging 12.2 minutes a game. While his 4.4 points per game and 3.9 rebounds per game underwhelm, he averaged 13 points and 11.6 rebounds per 36 minutes, as well as 2.3 blocks. He also shot 75% from the free throw line.
More importantly, at 7 feet and 245 pounds, Dedmon has the size and athleticism to protect the rim, hedge and recover in the pick and roll, and contribute on the offensive glass. If he can finish his layups on dives to the rim, he will be doing his job on offense. With only 148 NBA games under his belt, Dedmon can be coached to anchor a second unit defensively, and provides a contrast in style to Gasol. He's ultimately a role player, but as a defensive-minded center he fills a dire need of the Spurs.
Bruno Passos: The safe, low-upside bet might be David Lee, the most proven commodity of the bunch. He should be able to give the Spurs 15 OK minutes a game, and if Jean-Charles, Dedmon and Bertans (who's apparently due to play the four) all struggle, that number could go up. The hope in San Antonio is that's not the case and, if you saw my answers in the last ITB, you know I'm full of it.
Bertans looks like he'll have a role ready for him right away, but it might be a bit too matchup-dependent for him to have a big impact. I haven't been impressed by Jean-Charles, and Murray still dribbles the ball way too high for me to imagine Pop giving him meaningful minutes next season.
I'll go with Dedmon, who could potentially fill a big need as a defensive anchor while providing versatility with Gregg Popovich's frontcourt rotations. His metrics suggest he can hold down a small-ball second unit lineup that features Bertans or Anderson at the four or line up alongside Pau, Aldridge or Lee if Pop decides to go bigger. He appears to run the floor well and he knows how to roll off a screen and dunk a basketball. The caveat with him is whether he can be a reliable defender while keeping his fouling down. His extrapolated defensive stats from last season leap off the screen, but they include 5.6 fouls per 36 minutes, which is the lowest that figure's been in his six years in the league (silver lining?). It might take some time for him to carve his role out, but I like Dedmon's upside as a contributor and what he could mean for some fun lineup experimentation.
Jesus Gomez: I think Davis Bertans will surprise a lot of people. The Spurs have a huge hole at the two backup forward spots that Kyle Anderson can't fill on his own. Gregg Popovich will be tempted to give some of those minutes to Jonathon Simmons and David Lee but neither can really spread the floor or help the team without getting touches. Bertans can, not only because he's a terrific shooter but because he has a natural ability to move without the ball that can create room for his teammates.
It all will depend on how he's used. If Pop thinks of him as a spot-up shooter -- the next Rasual Butler or Matt Bonner - Bertans' talent will go to waste and he might be only a marginal rotation player. He might even be in Austin for most of the year and out of the NBA in no time, like Nando De Colo before him. If he's empowered by the coaching staff to be the off-ball threat that he can be - a 6'10" Marco Belinelli -- he should get around 15 minutes a night as a rookie at both the small forward and power forward positions.
If that happens, Dewayne Dedmon and David Lee would fight over the backup center minutes while the incredibly raw Livio Jean Charles develops without any pressure. That's the ideal scenario and one that should be easy to realize if Bertans' elite outside shooting translates and his decent quickness and hops allow him to be a neutral defender.
Bertans could disappoint, of course. In that case, David Lee will have to step up, because the Spurs will desperately need a proven big man with some perimeter skills and he's the only one in the roster that comes close to meeting those requirements.