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Spurs NBA 2K24 simulation: A disappointing start

The Spurs get off to a rough start in the first 20-games of our NBA 2K24 simulation

San Antonio Spurs v Golden State Warriors Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images

In mid-September it can feel like the NBA season is years away, despite opening night being right around the corner. Offseason burnout is at an all-time high, and Spurs fans need a remedy. There are so many burning questions about the team next year that urgently need answered.

I’m itching for basketball action, too. Which is why I downloaded the newest NBA 2K game to run your 2023-24 San Antonio Spurs through a full season simulation to see how they fare. In this series, we will be breaking down the NBA season into 20-game segments, tracking how the Spurs do over the course of the simulation.

To make this as “accurate” as possible, I am not interfering in any games. I will be truly simulating everything. I won’t be signing free agents, accepting or proposing trades, or making any roster changes. I will only intervene when an injury happens and the rotation needs to be adjusted. I have left the simulation settings on default, meaning we will be getting the games true take on how next year will go for the Silver and Black.

Without further ado, here is how the first 20 games went for the Spurs in the NBA 2K24 simulation.

Setting the rotation

The first thing I noticed when booting up the simulation is that the game has Victor Wembanyama starting at center, with Tre Jones, Devin Vassell, Keldon Johnson and Jeremy Sochan filling out the rest of the first five. As many Spurs fans are aware of, Wembanyama is slated to start at the forward position, and be flanked by Zach Collins as the starting center.

The first change I made was to move Jeremy Sochan to the bench, and add Collins to the starting lineup. I went back and forth on whether or not I should move Sochan to small forward, and move Johnson to the bench, but ultimately decided to sit Sochan because Johnson has the second highest overall rating on the team (and this is a simulation based on ratings after all.)

You can see the full rotation below:

I did not alter anything besides swapping Collins and Sochan. I kept all other minutes and rotations the same to keep it accurate to the games settings. One thing I noticed is that the game automatically cut two players to get the roster to 15 players. I really didn’t have a choice on who got cut... so don’t get mad at me. The game cut Khem Birch and... Julian Champagnie. This would obviously not be my choice, and I would be shocked if this is what actually happens, but I want to keep my hands off of this simulation as much as possible.

Preseason expectations and results

According to the NBA2K power rankings, the Spurs are expected to be the fourteenth best team in the NBA. That’s interesting because the team doesn’t have many high overalls, and was one of the worst teams in the league last year. Expectations were high going into the first game with the Dallas Mavericks.

An opening night win over an in-state rival is the ideal start to the Wembanyama era. The Spurs barely pulled out a 122-121 win in San Antonio. Sochan had an incredible game off the bench, putting up 21 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 blocks in just 21 minutes of play. Zach Collins was a beast on the boards, nearly having himself a 20-20 game while grabbing six offensive rebounds. Wemby struggled to score in the opener, putting up 12 and 9 on 3-13 shooting.

I’m glad we got the euphoria out of the way early, because the rest of the simulation was not kind to the Spurs.

After winning their opener, San Antonio dropped their next 13 games. These weren’t just close losses. A lot of them were blowouts. There was an 125-77 loss to the Clippers, 123-85 against the Suns, 135-98 against the Pacers and 125-88 against the Thunder. Over the course of the 13 game skid, the Spurs were outscored by a total of 298 points.

Reprieve came in the form of a 112-105 revenge win over the Clippers, on the back of Vassell and Johnson, who both dropped 22 in the home victory. After dropping the next three games to the Warriors, Nuggets and Hawks, the Sliver and Black ended the first 20 games on a two game winning streak, defeating the Pelicans and Jazz.

After the first 20 games, the Spurs find themselves with the worst record in the NBA at 4-16. Luckily for them, there is a lot of season left, the they are just 5 games out of a play-in spot. The Dallas Mavericks are also struggling, going 6-14. Somewhat of a surprise, the Charlotte Hornets are 9-11 and in contention for a play-in spot, which bodes well for the Spurs draft assets next offseason.

Key stats and performances

How could this team be struggling even more despite their offseason additions? First of all, their acquisitions haven’t been playing very well.

Wembanyama has struggled to adjust to the NBA game, as he’s averaging 11.3 points, 9.3 rebounds and 2.1 blocks a game. He’s shooting an abysmal 32.5% from the field and 23.8% from three. NBA2K’s “rookie report” has him ranked 4th in impact made by rookies, behind Brandon Miler, Scoot Henderson and Chet Holmgren. In a limited role, Reggie Bullock has had a minimal impact. He’s shooting 42% from three, but is only taking two attempts per game.

San Antonio currently has the worst offense in the sim. They are averaging just 102.6 points a game (30th in the league,) shooting 40.5% from the field (30th again) and shooting 31.8% from three (29th in the league.) They aren’t taking care of the ball either, as the team is 28th in the league in assists and 2nd in turnovers per game.

Defensively things are actually improving for the Silver and Black. They are giving up 116.3 points a game, good enough for the 18th best defense in the NBA. However they are allowing opposing teams to shoot 49% from the field (26th in the NBA) and 36.6% from three (18th in the league.) They are 14th in the league in rebounding and 10th in blocks, which shows the paint defense has improved.

KJ is once again leading the Spurs in scoring, averaging 19 points on 43.1% shooting from the field and 31.3% shooting from three. Vassell is averaging 16.2 points, 4.2 rebounds, 4.2 assists and nearly 2 steals a game, but has been largely inefficient, shooting 37.2% from the field and 32.9% from three.

Collins is continuing his strong play from last season. He’s averaging 11.8 points and 8.4 rebounds a game while shooting 44.8% from the field and 40% from three. He and Wembanyama seem to be creating a formidable duo in the paint.

So far, Johnson had the highest scoring game in the simulation, with 34 points in a 123-115 loss to the Phoenix Suns. Wembanyama’s most impressive game came in a 115-114 win over the New Orleans Pelicans, where he put up 20 points, 17 rebounds, 3 assists, 4 blocks and a steal. That performance is probably the Spurs best of the season.

Random musings and a look forward

  • Based on the results of the first 20-games, I am not totally sold on the accuracy of NBA 2K24’s simulation. Vassell shooting under 33% from deep seems nearly impossible. Wembanyama struggling this much for a player that supposedly “breaks the game” also doesn’t make a lot of sense.
  • Some of the blowout losses feel like overkill. A nearly 50-point loss to the Clippers in their third game does not feel like a real NBA score, but then again... this is a video game.
  • Despite having a pretty horrific start to the year, the “fan interest” is still at 80%. Thanks for sticking around, Spurs fans!
  • Opposing guards are torching the Spurs. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 44, Devin Booker had two 30-point games and Ja Morant scored 39 points (he shouldn’t even be playing!) against San Antonio.
  • I feel the strong urge to adjust the rotation based on performance. Please let me know in the comments if you think that would make this a more accurate sim.

Some relief could be coming in the next 20 games, where the schedule gets a bit easier. I’m looking at games against the Bulls, Mavericks, Jazz, TrailBlazers, Pistons and Hornets as potential wins. Tune into the next part of this series to see how the Spurs fare through December.