FanPost

One, two, thr....how many guards will the Spurs have next season?!

If you're reading articles on PTR, that means you're a pretty big Spurs fan. And if you're reading Fanposts that means you're a huge Spurs fan. And if you're reading THIS Fanpost then, well...I appreciate it but you gotta get some hobbies. Regardless, this is all to say that if you're this invested in the Spurs, then you've witnessed what I've witnessed, and that is that Derrick White is the truth and is another one of those guys that has very little holes in his game but every team passed in the draft simply because he was an older player (for reference sake because comparisons will come later, Derrick is a little over 24 and a half years old while Dejounte Murray is 22 and a third years old).

Derrick has shown over the past 10/15 games that he has earned a spot in the rotation and his role with the Spurs is more than just that of a bit player to help move the ball around the perimeter when the ball whips his way. Besides his all-around skill set as both a scorer and distributor and feel for game flow and pace, he's a great defender with an understanding of space, as well as the owner of an interesting combination of quickness and strength that is hard to come by (usually one has to give for the other trait to really be noticeable). And all this came at the perfect time, with the Spurs having struggled to start the season and the guard rotation already being a problem at the start of the season with the loss of Tony Parker to free agency and Dejounte and Lonnie Walker to injury. But I wouldn't blame you for saying a guard coming in and showing way more than expect and exceeding expectations sounds a little familiar.

While the rise of Forbes wasn't as drastic or team altering as Derrick's has been, we all noticed that Forbes' hard work and expanding game gave way to more opportunity and an increased role on the team to the tune of 28.3 minutes per game, currently only behind Demar and Lamarcus for highest on the team. And while Derrick's role has increased, that has not had a negative affect on Forbes' role. On the contrary, Forbes' minutes have increased along with White's. This is to say that it seems like Pop is pretty content with his starting backcourt as it stands.

And this is where things get tricky. I find it ironic that I'm writing this on the eve of Tony Parker's return to the Alamo City, as it was an issue of role within the guard rotation that led him to search for more playing time elsewhere. And it seems that, despite the early season shortcomings, the Spurs were correct and prepared for Tony's departure and his playing time would have been drastically reduced in favor of the younger guys, and this is all without Dejounte to boot. I'm mentioning all this because we may have the same issue next season, or maybe earlier, depending on Walker's development, and it needs to be addressed before things get complicated.

Patty Mills is playing the second highest minutes of his career, right behind last season. While that may sound impressive, his playing time currently clocks in at 23.8 mpg compared to 25.7 last season. It sits behind both White and Forbes, and that's including Derrick's slow start to the season, and is only a couple of minutes per game more than Belinelli. After last season, we all knew Patty was being stretched in terms of what he can do as a basketball player, which there is nothing wrong with. I'm impressed that Patty kept his head up and kept competing through everything he was asked to do last season both on and off the court, but I think it gave Pop, the team, and himself a better picture of his limits, which is why he's being asked to do less this season. But that also means other guys that are still developing and have upside are passing him, or are on their way to passing him. Right now with Lonnie Walker taking the Spurs college mentorship program, via the Austin Spurs, and Dejounte still recovering from a torn ACL, Patty is extremely vital. But when next season tips off and Dejounte needs 30 mpg, along with White's 30 mpg and Walker having recently graduated with his undergrad from Spurs U, the other guard minutes are going to be hard to come by.

The argument has been made that in today's NBA you can never have too many guards. That is an argument that I've always disagreed with though. It's good to have a lot of players with guard like skills, but defensively it doesn't make sense to have three combo guards on the court together for long periods of time. (Do we have to revisit the Tony Parker, George Hill, Gary Neal fiasco of 2011?) I know Demar has played the majority of his time at small forward this season, and while some bigger wings can slide from small forward to power forward in today's NBA, that is not a shift Demar should be making. Same goes for Belinelli. Demar's already playing a newer position as he's always been a shooting guard, and he doesn't have the body type for that kind of shift like say a Kawhi Leonard or Rudy Gay. So while shifting him from the 2 to 3 opens up some minutes, it doesn't open up a ton if you're looking to slide Demar over to the 4 and give some of the other guards minutes at the 3, especially because most of the guards are better suited for the 1 or 2 defensively.

This brings me to my analysis moving forward: the guard rotation is going to be cramped. This isn't an issue of promising yet untested young guys needing playing time to impress either, save for Lonnie Walker. Every guard in next seasons rotation will have shown enough to Pop to warrant significant playing time. This is a fantastic problem to have. I mean honestly, look at teams like the Suns and Magic whose dearth of guards/ball handlers is crippling. But, it's a problem nonetheless.

The Spurs can use this to their advantage though. While you don't want to rock the boat now because one bad injury could change all this since Dejounte is still recovering and Walker isn't quite ready, you don't want to roll into next season with this many worthy guards on the roster. I keep looking at the roster and see a sizable hole at the small forward/power forward position. It's a hole that becomes a lot bigger when Rudy Gay isn't on the court or when the Spurs play a team with a bigger, more talented wing (I swear these big, versatile wings are multiplying at this point). It's the type of guy that has the foot speed and quickness to play on the perimeter, but also has the size and awareness to play help defense like a big. I think over the summer, the Spurs can use one of their guards, combined with either one or both of their draft picks, to get a wing from another team or move up in the draft and grab a 3-and-D wing with upside. There are a few that should be in the draft this coming summer.

Which guard that should be or which player the Spurs should target is a whole other discussion. Let me know what you think in the comments. Do you see the guard rotation becoming a problem? Who should the Spurs target? A college guy in the draft or a player from another team? I have my own opinions but would love to see others! GO SPURS GO!!

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