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A look at some wild stats from the Spurs’ first five games

Biggest upset in 25 years? Best at protecting the ball in 48 years? It’s been a wild start to the season for the Spurs.

NBA: Preseason-San Antonio Spurs at Utah Jazz Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

The 3-2 Spurs are one of the pleasant surprises of the very young 2022-23 season, and a big reason for their early success has been some of the unexpected numbers they’ve been putting up. A lot, rather all of their success so far ties back to going 3-1 on their first road trip of the season, including winning the first three, which makes a little Spurs history on its own.

The Spurs’ win in Philadelphia was probably their most unexpected of the bunch (at least at the time, the 76ers have continued to struggle their way to a 1-4 start since). Before anyone knew what a struggle the start of the season would be for Philly, the Spurs were considered 13.5 point underdogs heading into the matchup, which ended up making that win their biggest “upset” since Gregg Popovich’s first season as head coach. (Although in fairness, the Spurs probably never were such huge underdogs for the vast majority of Pop’s career.)

Another factor that made the wins in Philly and Minnesota so satisfying was simply money. Specifically, the payroll difference between those club’s starting lineups and the Spurs’ are staggering. (Friendly reminder: Keldon Johnson’s contract extension doesn’t kick in until next season.)

The fun doesn’t just end at a team or monetary level. There have been some standout individual performances as well, beginning with Johnson. Posting 43 points and 10 assists in his first 2 games of the season allowed to him to make a little Spurs history, as did hitting 16 threes through his first five games: a franchise high.

Jakob Poeltl has also gotten out to a quick start, averaging a double-double and joining some elite Spurs company himself.

Finally, for a team that entered the season supposedly without a true point guard (I’d argue that whoever made the decision that Tre Jones — who is averaging a very respectable 14 points and 4.2 assists — isn’t one should re-evaluate), the Spurs have been surprising adept at sharing and caring for the ball. That may seem strange based on what we thought the Spurs’ weaknesses would be coming into the season, but here they are: putting up historically high assist and historically low turnover numbers through five games.

The ‘72-73 Knicks won the championship, while the ‘74-75 Lakers went 30-52 and missed the playoffs. Those are two extremely different outcomes, but both much better than the Spurs were projected to be. That likely doesn’t mean anything in this scenario, and it’s hard to imagine the Spurs will maintain those historic numbers, but if they continue to share and take care of the basketball at a league average at-worst rate, the bottom of the standings might be too far beneath them.

If you’re a bit of a stat guru like myself, be sure to give Jordan Howenstine a follow on Twitter (@AirlessJordan). He’s the best in the business at covering all things Spurs from a statistical standpoint. What are your favorite stats from the Spurs season so far?