The San Antonio Spurs’ 2018-2019 season was full of surprises, both good and bad. Dejounte Murray succumbed to a torn ACL before the season began, and Bryn Forbes filled the shoes of several injured guards better than anyone anticipated.
We knew the combo-guard could knock down the three-ball with pinpoint precision, but few could have predicted the drastic rise in his efficiency. While most role players struggle to maintain their level of play when thrust into the starting lineup, Forbes thrived in an unfamiliar role.
Bryn notched career-highs in literally every statistical category and started in all but one of San Antonio’s 89 combined regular-season and playoff games. It was a monumental step in the right direction for the undersized sharpshooter out of Michigan State University, and he undoubtedly made the most of his opportunity.
Barring any unforeseen setbacks, that same opportunity won’t be available to him this season. Murray is healthy, Derrick White has entrenched himself as an integral member of the young core, and Lonnie Walker IV is on the precipice of a breakout. So, where does Sparty fit into the Spurs’ plans?
With a logjam for minutes at both guard spots, one might assume Forbes is destined to head back to the bench. Not so fast, guys. Bryn isn’t going to relinquish minutes without a fight, and he hasn’t made it easy for Coach Pop to reduce his role heading into the season.
Through two preseason games, the fourth-year pro is leading San Antonio in points per game and shooting a whopping 75% from three-point territory. Exhibition basketball doesn’t necessarily translate into NBA success, but there are numerous reasons to believe he will play a significant role once again.
Sparty practically lived in the weight room a summer ago, adding 9 pounds of muscle to his slight frame. This offseason has been more of the same. Though bulking can slow a player down, Bryn hasn’t lost a step, and he’s finished through contact with more regularity.
More importantly, Forbes’ newfound strength should allow him to stick to his man on defense, and for a guy who hasn’t excelled on that end of the floor, any improvement is a welcome sight. A thinner Bryn was shed easily by ball-handlers early in his career, but this stronger rendition will be harder to go through.
With that in mind, the defensive side of the ball isn’t where I expect him to make a living. Forbes has been something of a catch-and-shoot three-point specialist since he came into the league, but his offensive arsenal has continued to expand.
Last season we saw the Bryn mix a few floaters and step-backs into his scoring repertoire, and he unveiled a few new tricks in the Silver and Black Open Scrimmage. Midrange jumpers, a tighter handle, and more shots off the dribble were all on display.
I like what I saw from Bryn Forbes in the Silver and Black Scrimmage.— Noah Magaro-George (@N_Magaro) October 12, 2019
His spot-up three-point shooting was sharp, but it was the other aspects of his scoring repertoire that caught my eye.
Mid-range jumpers off screens, shots off the dribble, and finishing with floaters. pic.twitter.com/37kyppW4NB
Whether or not Forbes will implement these tools on a nightly basis in the upcoming season is unknown. If he does, taking him off a court devoid of deadeye shooters will only become more difficult for coach Pop; Especially with three-point marksman Davis Bertans having been shipped to the Washington Wizards this summer.
Couple his remarkable development with San Antonio’s desperate need for outside shooting, and you have the perfect storm for another solid season from the undrafted guard. Spurs fans may want to see Luka Samanic and Keldon Johnson jockey for playing time, but Bryn Forbes might just be what the team needs to succeed down the stretch.