The Spurs are entering unfamiliar territory. After contending for two decades and trying to remain in the playoff hunt for the last four years, they have finally embraced a full rebuild. They traded their All-Star guard for draft picks, went young and are bracing for a year that will likely feature more losses than the fanbase has seen in a long time.
The hope is that the lack of success in the short term will help them build a team that can actually go back to fighting for championships instead of a play-in spot, but as the many franchises that have been in perpetual rebuilding mode have showed, there are no guarantees in the NBA.
Kicking off the process on the right foot would put San Antonio in the right path back to the top, which is why this season is so important. Fortunately, the front office has done a good job of putting together a young group with potential who will be coached by one of the best leaders in league history in Gregg Popovich.
The blueprint for a quick rebuild is there for the Spurs.
Last season’s team record: 34-48
Last season’s conference ranking: 10th
Last season’s offensive and defensive ratings: Off: 113. Def. 113
Jeremy Sochan (draft), Malaki Branham (draft), Blake Wesley (draft), Isaiah Roby (waiver), Gorgui Dieng (free agency), Dominick Barlow (two-way), Jordan Hall (two-way).
Dejounte Murray (trade), Jock Landale (trade), Lonnie Walker IV (free agency).
What’s the best case scenario for the Spurs this season?
Only two things matter for the Spurs in their first true rebuilding year: seeing improvement from the young players on the roster and getting the best lottery odds possible. The best case scenario would involve losing a lot but still seeing progress from Keldon Johnson and Devin Vassell as scorers and creators, having rookie Jeremy Sochan look like a long-term fit at power forward and at least one of the young guards stepping up his game and becoming part of the core going forward. Finishing the season with a bottom-three record and having a better idea of what everyone’s ceiling is would be considered a success for the Spurs. If they can achieve that while being entertaining to watch, then that would be perfection.
What’s the worst case scenario for the Spurs this season?
The nightmare scenario, as strange as it sounds, involves winning more than expected. Several teams are projected to be bad this season so even though the Spurs are one of the worst in the league on paper, they are not guaranteed the best lottery odds for the 2023 NBA draft. A few extra wins could be the difference between having a 14 percent chance of landing Victor Wembanyama and seeing that number cut almost in half. If those wins come because the young players look more advanced in their development than expected, then Spurs fans will take it. If instead they come because the coaching staff gives minutes to veterans who don’t figure to be a part of the future, then that would be disastrous.
What’s the most likely scenario for the Spurs this season?
There will be a lot of losing in San Antonio this year. The front office has made sure of it by going young and not adding an experienced ball handler after trading Dejounte Murray. Unless someone makes a massive, unexpected leap into stardom a bottom-three record seems like a very likely result. More often than not the games will be rough to watch for anyone who is not invested in the development of the young players, but the fanbase understands what’s going on.
What are you most excited for going into the season?
It will be fun to see what the young core can actually do. The Spurs’ starting lineup is going to feature a 19-year-old, two 22-year-olds, and a 23-year-old if the preseason is any indication. There will be two other 19-year-old rookies coming off the bench along with Josh Primo, who has a year of experience but was younger than a lot of players from the most recent draft. There’s just an absurd amount of youth and athleticism on this roster, and not just by Spurs standards. There will be nights when everything clicks and fans get a glimpse at the future, and those games will make up for what’s likely to be a rough season otherwise.
Predict your team's win/loss record for the season: 20-62
With a couple of untimely injuries the Spurs could be historically bad, but assuming reasonable health, winning 20 games doesn’t seem farfetched, so let’s go with 20-62.
Predict your team’s conference seeding: 15th
The Rockets, Thunder, and even the Jazz could realistically finish last in the West, but right now the Spurs seem like the favorites to finish 15th.