What an awfully long off-season it’s been. Or to be more precise, what an awfully long time between the Spurs’ play-in exit and the start of the season. It didn’t feel that long last year. Then again, I didn’t switch employers last off-season, and I didn’t move to another city last off-season. Neither did I visit three multi-day rock festivals that involved camping last off-season. But the summer of 2022, well, it was an incredibly eventful one for me. By September, I was in Slovenia and Spurs basketball had become a distant memory.
Meanwhile, the Spurs had traded away Dejounte Murray, finally committing to a full-on rebuild. I’ll openly admit that I think it was the right decision. The Spurs got a major haul in return. Multiple unprotected first-round picks and pick swaps. All of them when Murray’s current contract will have expired. Not bad at all. But the biggest prize in the deal is likely something that wasn’t even part of the deal — the Spurs’ own pick in the 2023 draft.
Yes, I had been aware before that the upcoming draft is going to be stacked with talent. But then I read Noah’s piece on the recent matchup between Victor Wembanyana and Scoot Henderson, and saw the videos Noah included… I have been psyched ever since! Whether either of the two, preferably the French fella, is going to end up a Spur is far from secure. But the Spurs are still one of the most likely landing places for what appears to be a “generational talent” in the truest sense of the phrase.
Mind you, there was one thing I forgot when I got psyched about the Spurs’ odds in the upcoming draft: the fact there are 82 games to be played between now and then. How do you approach such a season as a fan? I’ve had no experience with such a situation, and I must admit I haven’t found an answer yet. Have you?
- The Spurs hqve much room to improve when it comes to closing out quarters and games. It was a problem last season, and it’s no surprise that it continues to be a problem “sans Dejounte.”
- The Spurs’ record would be 0-2 if it wasn’t for ridiculously (and likely unsustainably) hot shooting. 4/9 is typical Keldon Johnson 3-point shooting split from last season, and I’m glad it appears to have carried over. 4/7 is what we’re all hoping could become a typical Devin Vassell shooting split sooner rather than later. But there’s just no way on earth 6/8 is becoming a typical Josh Richardson shooting split. (And if it is, then this team won’t be tanking for anyone, much less Wemby!)
- Speaking of Josh Richardson, there’s probably not even a way for him to be a Spur after the trade deadline. And if he continues to shine in Silver & Black, he could be an undeniable trade asset: Could the guy who wasn't much more than a salary matcher in the Derrick White deal fetch yet another first-rounder? Let’s not get hasty, but if he has a career year, shooting-wise, Richardson is going to be in high demand for any team that wants to win games in the playoffs — as a solid wing who can shoot.
- A consensus opinion among analysts in 2022/23 season outlooks was that the Spurs would have one of the worst offenses in the league, due to a tremendous lack of half-court creation, but could be near-decent defensively. Frankly, so far I’m having trouble to call what the Spurs are doing to prevent the opposition from scoring a defense without cracking a rueful smile. That’s nothing to worry about, though, because it’d be great for the Spurs to have that number one pick! But what we also want is for the guys to develop. It’s tough to make a statement about that after only two games, but there are three things I like.
1. Keldon Johnson appears to be able to do what he did last season in a larger role. That’s good, but his dribble still looks — how can I put this? — untrustworthy.
2. In comparison, Devin Vassell’s dribble looks better. I can see — not very clearly, mind you — more of a self-creator in him than Keldon. Also, Devin has seriously bulked up.
3. Jeremy Sohan will certainly bulk up as well in the future, but, more importantly, I’m confident he’ll find ways to become a contributor on the offensive end. Tool-wise, the guy looks incredible. It’s just a matter of leveling up. And since rookies who start for the Spurs have quite a history of levelling up, I’m thrilled to find out what player Sohan will be some years for now.
- As for now, I’m thrilled to find out more about these Spurs tonight against Philly. Maybe I’ll even find more of an answer to my initial question: How am I supposed to approach this season? Any hints, let me know.