There are a lot of roster and lineup questions in the air for the San Antonio Spurs and while many have been wondering about their ultimate forward rotations with the additions of Doug McDermott, Zach Collins, Thaddeus Young, and Al-Farouq Aminu, who all would figure to largely play at the 4 position (if they are still with the team), the glut of guards on the Spurs has not decreased significantly. While we might wonder if Pop will still play small with Keldon Johnson manning the starting PF spot (which we could imagine, though I, like many, would prefer Johnson to play more at the SF spot) the starting 2 guard spot remains intriguing because of the possibilities that it entails, most notably, that the possibilities largely consist of the young core that the Spurs (and Spurs fans) have been so keen to see develop.
Before I jump into the candidates, I want to state, that I understand these are STARTING lineups and the CLOSING lineups might be drastically different. What I am primarily trying to assess here is perceived fit, though how Pop ends up staggering minutes could mitigate some of the lineup concerns that are had.
Here are our potential starting 2 guards (note: I am assuming both Josh Primo and Joe Wieskamp will be playing exclusively in Austin):
Derrick White/Dejounte Murray
Let's be honest, one of these two is starting. Given the past year or so, it feels more like Dejounte's spot to lose. We can argue that both are technically PGs with the ability to guard up in size so if both start together, it's sort of a toss up who is the "official PG" on the starting lineup. That being said, this option is the option of starting both together. I personally favor Derrick as the more solid floor general in the more traditional PG sense, but I think Dejounte has flashed a lot more of the tools that will help the Spurs' current roster, that is, primarily as a go-to scorer. Thus, moving forward, I am going to speak from what I think is reasonable (also given Derrick is coming back from injury), if these two don't start together, Derrick is the one coming off the bench. Starting both of these players together makes a lot of sense as we can certainly imagine them finishing the game together. There is almost a nostalgic feeling of starting both Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili together as White and Murray are hands down our two best and most consistent guards. There certainly remains a question of whether or not the bench is still a viable unit if these two players end up sharing a lot of floor time, as your guard rotation becomes some pairing of Lonnie Walker IV, Bryn Forbes, and Tre Jones, the latter two, who pose a significant size and defensive disadvantage which Pop often tried to use a larger guard (e.g. Murray or White) to compensate for. The question would be whether or not Walker's (and maybe Vassell's) defense has stepped up enough for things to work out there. Additionally, while Forbes and Walker have both taken strides in this area, neither currently has the capacity as the primary playmaker. Perhaps this is mitigated by giving more minutes to Tre Jones, and shooting is offset by the other bench players such as Vassell, Jock Londale, and either Luka Samanic or eventually Collins. While I can see Pop trying it, I think perhaps we can all agree that a Jones/Forbes backcourt would be pretty disastrous.
Look, I as much as anyone else, don't like this possibility. However, I have to admit it is a possibility. He does one thing better than all the other candidates, and that is space the floor. It allows Pop to better stagger minutes between Murray and White, keeping one primary playmaker on the floor at all times. A starting of Forbes may indicate to us that the coaching staff doesn't think Tre Jones is quite ready as a backup PG yet. The fit off the bench is slightly better with a White and Walker pairing in the backcourt off the bench. Bryn has the experience and fit to start next to Murray, who, along with hopefully Johnson, will mitigate some of his defensive deficiencies. Additionally, he won't be asked to do too much as a playmaker.
Lonnie Walker IV
I am as high on Lonnie Walker and anyone else, but there is often a consistency issue. I think he might make a better secondary playmaker over Forbes, but his game seems to overlap a bit more significantly with Murray's, so there is a question of if he can shine here in the starting lineup, or is better off the bench. While I think Lonnie has the potential to be a great triple threat player, he has yet to demonstrate the consistency necessary to be relied on as such. While I salivate at the athleticism of a Murray-Walker-Johnson lineup, one has to wonder a little about spacing, especially if you through Jakob Poeltl into the mix.
Most of us would probably slate Vassell in as the backup SF, because if he's not there, there really isn't a good fit unless some juggling is done (e.g. we keep Young and play McDermott/Johnson here) or players like Keita Bates-Diop or Chandler Hutchinson somehow blow us out of the water. Vassell is an intriguing choice here because he kind of would fit everything that the starting lineup needs. Doesn't need the ball in his hands a lot, a proficient 3 point threat, and solid defender. Seeing him wreak havoc on opposing teams' perimeter players with Murray would be quite enjoyable to watch and he doesn't require the same type of space as a player like Walker to be successful. However, it does leave the bench unit with some combination of Forbes/Jones, White, and Walker between three positions, which may be less than ideal.
Of course, this is all speculation, and certainly there could be players that significantly surprise us in the strides that they took over the offseason (I'm primarily looking at Johnson, Walker, and Samanic) that sort of shake everything up. For me right now this is sort of a tossup. What do you guys think? Maybe I missed another option too.