Welcome to the Week in Review: a Monday feature that looks back at the week that was for the San Antonio Spurs, takes a look at the week ahead, and more. Enjoy!
Week 8: The Spurs finally ended their franchise record losing streak against the Lakers but failed to carry that momentum any further.
Week 9: 0-3 (4-23, 15th in West) — 119-132 L @ Milwaukee Bucks; 95-114 L @ Chicago Bulls; 119-144 L @ Dallas Mavericks
Good afternoon, Pounders! I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday weekend! I know I did — a lot of cooking with my mom and sister, a lot of playing with my rambunctious nephews (the youngest who could not be persuaded that he was quickly headed to Santa’s naughty list), and a lot of family time. One thing I was happy I didn’t have to worry about was the Spurs. Not only have I never been a fan of them playing on Christmas (enjoy that while it lasts), but they had a pretty awful week in their own right, so I welcomed the brief respite.
As mentioned last week, they finally put everything together to end their losing streak against the Lakers, but they quickly reverted back to their bad habits the next game for a blowout loss to the Pelicans, and that extended into the next week. It didn’t help that Victor Wembanyama missed two games nursing a gimpy ankle, the first of which was a wire-to-wire blowout loss to the Bucks, meaning we were denied his anticipated first meetup with the Greek Freak. It was a wire-to-wire blowout behind 40 points from Damian Lillard, with only a late push from the Spurs in the fourth quarter making the score look semi-respectable.
Next was a short flight over to Chicago, where the Spurs faced off against a Bulls team that has been rising back up after a slow start (coincidently or not, without Zach LaVine). It was a close game for three quarters, but this time the Spurs merely saved their meltdown for the fourth quarter instead of the third, as DeMar DeRozan and Coby White went off to help secure the win for their team. However, the biggest takeaway from that game wasn’t the outcome, but Wemby only getting up a career-low 8 shot attempts while his teammates seemingly struggled all game to find him, even when he was wide open. This led to frustrated, conspiracy-minded fans to go off on social media, but it was laughed off by the main target of fans’ ire (who also had to tell fans to stop sending hate messages on Christmas, which is just sad).
Finally, they ended the week in Dallas, which saw chaos before the game even started. With the whole team likely hoping to squash theories that they have a vendetta against their star rookie, he ended up being a late scratch after reaggravating his ankle by stepping on a ballboy’s foot during shootaround. He seemed ok and wanted to play, but Gregg Popovich chose to err on the side of caution and sit him. Without Wemby, the smaller Mavericks killed the Spurs on the offensive glass, and they had their worst third quarter meltdown yet, getting outscored 45-20 while Luka Doncic went off for 39 points in the game, making the fourth quarter entirely garbage time. In all, it was a week the entire team would like to forget.
John Schuhmann, NBA.com — 29 (last week: 29)
OffRtg: 106.5 (30) DefRtg: 118.6 (25) NetRtg: -12.1 (30) Pace: 103.0 (3)
The Spurs went 0-3 on a road trip in which Victor Wembanyama missed two of the three games and scored a season-low seven points in the other. Having scored just 103.5 points per 100 possessions over their four-game losing streak, they’ve fallen to 30th in offensive efficiency for the season.
1. The one thing the Spurs’ offense did well last season was crash the glass, ranking seventh in offensive rebounding percentage. But they traded their leading offensive rebounder (Jakob Poeltl) at the deadline and they’ve seen the league’s third-biggest drop in offensive rebounding percentage from last season to this one.
2. With that, they, amazingly, rank in the bottom 5 in all four factors on offense. No team has done that (and only seven teams have ranked in the bottom 10 in all four) over a full season in the 27 previous years for which we have play-by-play data.
3. The Spurs have outscored their opponents by 23.4 points per 100 possessions in 140 total minutes with Wembanyama, Tre Jones and Devin Vassell on the floor, but have been outscored by 15.0 per 100 in 530 minutes with two of the three on the floor and by 24.0 per 100 in 513 minutes with only one of the three on the floor.
With their loss in Chicago on Thursday, the Spurs are 0-5 against the other nine teams that are at least two games under .500, having played only four of the nine. Ten of their next 14 games are against that group, with their first games against the Jazz and Blazers this week.
Brett Siegel, Clutch Points — 28 (last week: 29)
Victor Wembanyama can only do so much for the San Antonio Spurs and now he is dealing with a sprained ankle. At four wins on the season, the Spurs have definitely been a big disappointment this year.
Heading into 2024, San Antonio is going to be aggressive and look to be active on the trade block in terms of searching for ways to benefit Wembanyama’s long-term growth. The point guard position needs to be addressed sooner than later and it wouldn’t be shocking if Gregg Popovich and this front office looked to bring in a couple of key veteran presences to steer this ship on the path to success. Keep an eye on Keldon Johnson’s long-term status in San Antonio, as he could net this organization the assets they desire.
Coming up: Tues. 12/26 vs. Utah Jazz; Thurs. 12/28 @ Portland Trail Blazers; Fri. 12/29 vs. Portland Trail Blazers; Sun. 12/31 vs. Boston Celtics
Prediction: 1-3 — The Spurs have three straight games coming up against teams with losing records, I’d like to believe they’ll take advantage at least once, right? The Jazz are six games behind .500 but have won five of their last ten, while Portland is only three games better than the Spurs and, like them, are just 1-9 over their last 10. Hopefully Wemby can return tonight, and they can maybe even take two wins, but that is likely wishful thinking.