As it stands right now, the San Antonio Spurs are on pace to win 82 games and the Houston Rockets **checks notes** might never win again. The news is all good so far!
In reality, the questions facing this Spurs team are still largely the same today as they were yesterday. We’re still not exactly sure how much the loss of Dejounte Murray will hurt long term. We still don’t know if there is an overarching plan for the offense besides Death By A Thousand Mid-Range Jumpers. We still don’t know whether this team can play enough defense to hang with the elite teams in the league. We still don’t know whether or not Rudy Gay wearing florescent orange shoes is a look we can truly get behind. We just. Don’t. Know.
All of that being said, there were a few interesting nuggets to tide us over for the moment.
- DeMar DeRozan is going to be such a fun Spur. He logged 28 points on the night but, more importantly, it felt like he was always in charge out on the floor. Late in the game, after Jimmy Butler hit a truly bananas three to tie things up, DeRozan steadily brought the ball up the floor, accelerated toward the hoop and then pulled up and banked in a go ahead two. It was a HUGE moment (the biggest one of the season so far!) and he just came out and handled his business in a calm, collected, and kind of boring way. He’s a proper Spur already and I love him.
- LaMarcus Aldridge seems to have picked up right where he left off last season. Like everyone else, it looked like he was struggling with his shot at times, but that sort of comes with the opening night territory. Frankly, the fact that he still put up great numbers while having an “off” night seems like a great sign. With so much organizational turnover, it’s going to be invaluable having him continue to be a steady force racking up double-doubles and anchoring the defense.
- Pretty much every game I’ve watched of this young NBA season has been tremendously sloppy and this one was no different. There were lots of easy missed shots, botched defensive assignments, and careless turnovers by both teams. This is all probably to be expected considering that the Spurs were dealing with their largest roster turnover in two decades and the Wolves best player was, is, and continues to be in open emotional warfare with his own teammates.
- Speaking of Jimmy Butler. It was hard watching the Timberwolves out there tonight and not be overwhelmed by flashbacks of our own experience last season with a star player who wanted out. I remember most of the time just feeling frustrated at not knowing what was actually going on. Minnesota fans, uh, do not have that problem, do they? Butler wants out and everyone seems to know every detail about it. It was almost comical at times watching them all running around out there acting like this was just some normal basketball game and Butler didn’t go out of his way to humiliate everyone at practice less than a week ago. I sure hated not knowing what was going on with Kawhi Leonard last season, but the alternative doesn’t seem too great either.
- I don’t think the Point Guard problem has been solved or anything, but I do feel a little bit better about it moving forward. Bryn Forbes got the start tonight and looked pretty good. He hit some some shots, didn’t turn the ball over too much, and was a ball of energy on defense. Patty Mills had a pretty typical Patty Mills game and DeRozan showed that he’s more than capable of being the primary ball handler when he needs to be. This looks to be a serviceable plan moving forward and, seeing as it is pretty much the only plan, it was nice to see it work out tonight.
- Granted, the Spurs offense is not really the thing anyone is worried about. The defense wasn’t terrible, but 108 points is still an awful lot of points. The cracks in the facade were especially evident as the Wolves clawed their way back into the lead during third quarter. Jeff Teague in particular seemed to really get it going and our guys just did not have an answer for it. If the Spurs are going to be successful this year, they’re going to have to play excellent team defense every night because the days of Leonard putting his Superman cape on and bailing them out are over.
- I loved the way Rudy Gay played tonight but, more importantly, I really loved the way he stepped into a senior leadership role with the H-E-B commercials. Just a real veteran move by him. I think Patty’s assumed the overall commercial MVP role from Manu, but Rudy is logging some solid minutes here.
At the H-E-B Natural Retreat, there's no room for bad vibes or artificial anything. Let the @spurs show you how a to de-stress and unwind! #GoSpursGo https://t.co/KhQMqcnY5U pic.twitter.com/gRy0idCtVW— H-E-B (@HEB) October 18, 2018
- This is going to be a weird season for all of us. I already almost passed out seeing Tony Parker hit a pull up jumper for the Hornets and, honestly, even seeing Danny Green getting a big cheer from the Toronto fans sort of tore me up. But when all was said and done, the biggest takeaway of the night is that it was a lot of fun having the boys back out there playing real games again. The last time we watched the Spurs play for real at the AT&T Center, Manu was turning back the clock one last time against the Warriors and reminding us why we’ll always love him. Tonight, we got to watch a new era of Spurs start to show us why we’re going to love them too. It’s good to be back.