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Who will lead the Spurs in assists next year?

Picking the Spurs who will dish the rock most next season.

Portland Trail Blazers v San Antonio Spurs Photos by Michael Gonzales/NBAE via Getty Images

For all of the San Antonio Spurs offensive woes last season, they still managed to share the rock. That’s a rarity for young teams who typically try to do too much themselves offensively. Most young teams aren’t coached by Gregg Popovich, though.

The Spurs have long been synonymous with a “beautiful game” approach to basketball. An emphasis on off-ball movement, team play and passing up good looks for great looks have been the franchise’s calling card. The offensive efficiency may have dropped in 2022-23, but passing was not the reason why.

San Antonio was 5th in the NBA in assists per game, with 27.2. They also turned the ball over at the 4th lowest rate in the NBA, only coughing it up 15.3 times a game. Despite not always having the offensive firepower to put up major scoring performances, the team had a system in place that led to good movement.

Next season will be an adjustment for the team that suddenly has a few players who can beat their man 1-on-1. More offensive weapons means that there needs to be facilitators who can set them up. Luckily for San Antonio, they have the system and personnel to get their scorers the ball. Let’s take a look at who could lead the Spurs in assists next season.

1. Tre Jones

It would make sense for the starting point guard to lead the team in assists. Especially a talented facilitator like Jones. The third year guard was thrust into a starting role last year, where he thrived as a distributor. Jones averaged a team high 6.6 assists per game, and was 9th in the NBA in assist to turnover ratio, at 4.07. He had a 31.5 assist percentage last season, meaning that when he was on the floor, nearly a third of San Antonio’s buckets came off of a Jones pass.

Jones operated primarily out of the pick and roll. He ran 374 of them last year, and the Spurs scored 44% of the time on those looks, per Synergy. He has the chance to be even better in that action next season.

Look at the weapons around Jones. Victor Wembanyama, Devin Vassell, Zach Collins, and Jeremy Sochan are all players capable of finishing plays out of the pick and roll, whether it be spacing the floor for catch and shoot threes, or crashing to the basket. The Jones-Wembanyama pick and roll may be one of the most fruitful actions the Spurs can run next season, with Jones playmaking ability and Wemby’s freakish versatility.

Jones is no slouch scoring the ball either. He averaged 12.9 points last season. With his floater and combination of creative finishes inside, he’s a threat going downhill. Teams will have to pick their poison when deciding to cover his drives, dropping hard onto a roller like Wembanyama, or getting out to shooters like Vassell and Collins. Jones has the weapons and the ability to not only lead the Spurs in assists this season, but to increase his total from last year.

2. Zach Collins

When the Spurs traded Jakob Poeltl at the deadline, many expected them to lose a key aspect of their offensive identity: a passing hub from the high post. Collins not only filled in for Poeltl, but actually improved upon his passing.

Upon entering the starting five, Collins averaged 3.8 assists, a marginal improvement over Poeltl’s 3.1 assists. He became a major threat operating on handoffs, out of the high post and in the short roll. He routinely hit cutters and shooters on the weak side in those actions. Check out this video from MavsDraft on Twitter highlighting some of his passes before he entered the starting 5.

One of the most interesting storylines for the Spurs offense is how Collins and Wembanyama play together. Will we see Wemby spend more time in the high post, operating on the low block or spacing opposite while Collins acts as a playmaking hub at the top of the key? If it’s the latter, I see a lot of assist opportunities for Collins.

The Spurs are a team of smart cutters, and acquired more shooters. Using Collins as an initiator of the offense to utilize those shooters and cutters makes a lot of sense, and would build off of the strides the team made late last season. Depending on his usage, there is a chance Collins could be one of the teams leading assist men by the end of the year.

3. Jeremy Sochan

Everyone is clamoring for “point-Sochan” at this point in the offseason. Fans have been interested in seeing if the young wing can handle full time distributing responsibilities. Despite glimpses of playmaking ability, Sochan was not a consistent passer last season.

Sure the highlights in transition and flashy passes over All Star Weekend are nice, but Sochan posted just 2.5 assists and 1.7 turnovers a game last season. His assist percentage was a lowly 13.6%. To say that he was an above average playmaker last season is simply not true.

So why is he on this list? Sochan showed flashes of being a distributor last season, and his role may dictate more responsibility in that area. If Sochan is indeed the odd-man out of the starting five (I’m not totally convinced that will be the case) he will be the team’s best playmaker off of the bench. Blake Wesley hasn’t shown the capability to take on full-time back up point guard minutes, and guards like Malaki Branham are better suited playing off of the ball.

The Spurs were second in the league in pace last year, meaning a spry bench could push the ball out in transition. That’s the perfect style for Sochan to unlock his passing. He can lead the team on the break and initiate offense after crashing the defensive glass. He could play a point forward role with a second unit, and rack up assists in the process.


Who will lead the Spurs in assists next year?

This poll is closed

  • 83%
    Tre Jones
    (204 votes)
  • 3%
    Zach Collins
    (9 votes)
  • 5%
    Jeremy Sochan
    (14 votes)
  • 6%
    Other (explain in the comments)
    (16 votes)
243 votes total Vote Now