The preseason is a time for learning, a time for growth, and a time for wild, baseless speculation. Nuanced takes? Leave them at the door. Objective analysis? Get it out of here. The streets are crying out for intense hyperbole, and they want as little evidence as possible to generate it. Is LaMarcus Aldridge hitting pick-and-pop threes the key to unlocking the Spurs offense? You bet it is. Is Derrick White’s summer hangover something we should worry about? 100%. If I can’t fully freak out after two exhibition games, why did Al Gore even invent the the Internet in the first place? Preseason basketball is a state of mind, and the state I’ve chosen is “Extreme.”
Like many of you, I observed the first Spurs game of the season against the Magic largely through the team’s Instagram posting various highlights across my timeline last Saturday night. I giddily watched Dejounte Murray dishing out over the shoulder passes to Lonnie Walker IV, and my face did a full Jack Nicholson “Yes” gif at Bryn Forbes throwing down two-handed breakaway dunks. Of course, I was then absolutely blindsided when the final score eventually showed up revealing that our beloved Spurs had . . . lost by 36? To the Magic? But . . . the random highlights had been so good! What happened?
For this game against the Heat, I was all set up and ready to do some real capital “A” Analysis of the boys. I had my official League Pass stream of Fox Sports Sun loaded up, my notebook out, and my journalist hat on. I was going to observe trenchant things about the team. I was going to notice how the offense had evolved in the offseason. I was going to dig into the tape and say things like, “the defensive rotations seem to be a little off so far. Something to keep an eye on.” All of you were going to be so impressed. Seriously.
Then, something happened along the way. Somewhere in between realizing that the offense looked like it was running entirely through Jakob Poeltl and that no one had any answers for Tyler “I guess I’m Klay Thompson now” Herro, I remembered that none of this really matters. The coaches are experimenting with different sets and rotations. Guys are shaking off rust and getting back into a rhythm. Tim Duncan is trying his best to not look uncomfortable in a suit. Everything looks a little weird and a little off, and that’s sort of the point.
I guess what I’m trying to say is, these games aren’t really for us. It’s fun to see basketball on the TV again, and it’s fun to check out a few fresh faces wearing Silver & Black, but that’s about it. Analyzing a game like this in a serious, level-headed way seems boring, and trying to force ourselves to have a melt down about it seems exhausting. You might be asking right now, “wait, isn’t there some type of middle ground?” No. There is not. Sorry.
These overdressed rehearsals in largely empty arenas are here mostly to serve as a low stakes alternative to the rigors of playoff baseball, and, while I’m grateful for that, I think we can all agree that October 23rd can’t get here soon enough.
- Twitter is not real life, obviously, but the random selection of Spurs Twitter that I’m privy to in my online wanderings got big mad when Marco Belinelli was brought off the bench first instead of Lonnie. Like, “Pop needs to retire” takes were getting floated out there because of a sub in the 2nd preseason game of the season. It was nuts! You guys know that we only have like three guys who can shoot threes active on the roster at the moment, right? I know I tend to skew more towards the cult of Marco than most, and I promise that I’m as excited about Lonnie’s future as everyone else, but the Spurs really need a good version of Marco off the bench this year if they want to try and break 100 every couple of games. Why are you booing me? I’m right!
- It remains exceedingly fun to see Dejounte Murray out there doing Dejounte Murray things in a real, live basketball game. It’s hard to extrapolate from these two performances whether he’s actually going to be able to fulfill the X-Factor Savior role that has been projected on to him since last year, but he’s certainly done nothing to dissuade anyone of that notion so far, and he’s also managed to not suffer any horrible, season ending injuries that make everyone sad. So, that’s all good news.
- I was obviously kidding about LaMarcus pick-and-pop threes being the key to unlocking the Spurs offense this year, but, what if I wasn’t? No, it would be silly to expect him to be able to contribute that kind of range in any meaningful way during the season. But, what if he did? Look, no one is saying that he needs to be out there nailing triples and spacing the floor like Marc Gasol did for Toronto last year in route to the Raptors winning their first ever championship over a seemingly unbeatable (but injured) Golden State Warriors team . . . I think we can all simply agree that it’d just be a lot cooler if he did. Something to think about.