At 61.1 percent, the San Antonio Spurs currently own the best running regular season win percentage of any franchise.  Prior to their three most recent campaigns, they had posted only one losing season since 1988-89.  The five titles they earned in that era serve as proof that their regular season excellence translated into post-season brilliance.  They were so good that their success became blasé over a decade ago.  The last time they were in a rebuild (no, I’m not counting 1997-98), very few of us were even walking the earth!

There’s no denying the Spurs will finally be bad this year.  The last vestige of the Spurs successful run, Dejounte Murray, was shipped to Atlanta.  Still, someone has to get the looks and touches, so there will be fantasy goodness from this roster.  On a real-world note, I’m somewhat surprised that Coach Popovich decided to stick it out this long.  I admire his devotion to the franchise and his willingness to hang with his team through thick and thin.  Since I need to make a hyperbolic Alamo reference when writing about San Antonio, I choose to picture Pop as Davy Crockett in the final scene of Davy Crockett: King of the Wild Frontier, fighting desperately as the fort falls around him.  It’s not a stretch at all…

Just like the Alamo’s defenders, the Spurs will get killed this year.  In the case of the Texas Revolution, the sacrifice of the Alamo contributed to Sam Houston’s defeat of General Santa Ana’s army and the achievement of independence.  In the case of this Spurs team, their horrible record will pave the way for San Antonio to do what it does best: draft great players and return to their winning ways.  Like I said, not a reach at all… Give ’em what for, Coach Pop!

  • Depth Chart
Center PF SF SG PG
Jakob Poeltl Keldon Johnson Doug McDermott Devin Vassell Tre Jones
Zach Collins Isaiah Roby Jeremy Sochan Josh Richardson Joshua Primo
Gorgui Dieng Malaki Branham Blake Wesley
  • 2021-22 Record: 34-48
  • Key Arrivals: Jeremy Sochan, Malaki Branham, Blake Wesley, Isaiah Roby
  • Low-Volume Game Days (played on days with five or fewer total NBA matchups): 11
  • Back-to-Back Sets: 13
  • 2021-22 Pace Ranking: 15th

Key Players

  • Keldon Johnson: The Spurs expect Johnson to be the focal point on offense.  He made a big jump in nine-category formats last season, nearly finishing in the top 100 for the first time in his young career.  The improvement is attributable to his 17.1 points/game and doubling of his three-point production to 2.1 makes per game.  To make things even more tasty going into this season, Derrick White’s move to Boston freed up Keldon to produce top-50 numbers in his final 24 games.  Over that span, he averaged 20.5 points, 2.6 threes, 6.1 rebounds, and 2.8 assists.  The only Spur who produced more in that timeframe was Dejounte Murray, who is now elsewhere with his 30 percent usage.  If Johnson can add to his steal and block totals, he should be able to maintain top-50 value across all formats.
  • Devin Vassell: Similar to Johnson, Vassell drastically improved after the Derrick White transaction.  Post trade, Vassell averaged 14.1 points, 2.3 threes, 2.7 assists, and 1.2 steals – good for top 70 value in 9-cat.  His usage lagged behind Johnson’s in those final 24 games, so all signs point to Vassell being the second option on offense to start the season.  This could change if the Spurs choose to prioritize Vassell’s development, however.
  • Jakob Poeltl: If you can tolerate trade rumors all season, Poeltl is a great punt FT% option that you can find in the middle rounds.  He will likely play starter’s minutes on a new team even if he’s traded.  The elite rebounds, blocks, and FG% should endure as long as he’s in the 27-30 minute per night range.  On the other hand, his 2.8 assists per game represent the most vulnerable stat in the event that he’s moved, depending on how his potential suitors use him on offense.
  • Tre Jones: The assists and steals that Jones will provide make him worthy of a pick in 12-team drafts.  He’s an ideal guard option for a punt threes and FT% build, as he’ll rack up assists, shoot a high percentage from the field for a guard, and take relatively good care of the ball.  On that final point, he only committed five turnovers total in his five April starts.
  • Joshua Primo: In a system that doesn’t traditionally smile upon rookies, Primo turned some heads last season by playing 50 games and starting in the Spurs’ final 12 contests as they competed for a playoff seed.  The enthusiasm is tempered by the fact that the more traditional PG option, Tre Jones, is expected to start.  In order to be a fantasy asset, Primo will need to significantly increase his efficiency from last year’s percentage marks (37/75) and find a way to generate more assists.  For what it’s worth, he reportedly got yoked in the offseason, so he’ll be harder to manhandle than when he was at 6’6″, 190lbs.
  • Jeremy Sochan: Pop doesn’t have a good enough roster to sideline his rookies this year, so they should spend more time in NBA stadiums than they do in G-League buildings.  Unfortunately, in Sochan’s case, our intel is limited to his overseas play and one season at Baylor.  By all accounts, he is tough defensively, which translated into 1.3 steals and 0.7 blocks per game in his lone college campaign.  With the San Antonio rebuild in full swing, we should have a good idea of whether or not his offensive game is NBA ready in relatively short order.
  • Malaki Branham: A strong Summer League showing confirmed Branham’s ability to create his own shot and knock down threes (15.4 points and 2.2 threes over five games).  He’ll need to get minutes in the mid-to-high twenties to get the shots he needs for fantasy relevance.
  • Zach Collins: There was a time when Collins looked primed to step into Portland’s starting center role after Jusuf Nurkic suffered a broken leg.  The year was 2019, and Collins made it only a few inconsequential games before he suffered his own season-ending injury.  Three years later, he is once again backing up a very solid starting center in Poeltl.  This time, however, it may be a trade that gives Collins an opportunity.  In limited minutes, he demonstrated the ability to garner rebounds, assists, and blocks without hurting you in FT%.
  • Doug McDermott / Josh Richardson: Prior to the season’s start, these two are already being named as trade candidates alongside Poeltl.  Regardless of what happens, they are both known quantities at this point.  They are occasionally useful points and threes streamers, with Richardson having the higher upside as a guy who can get to the line and make free throws at a 90 percent clip.  Don’t expect consistent defensive numbers though, as Richardson left that aspect of his game on South Beach.

Hit me up in the comments with any questions or feed back!

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Jon
Jon
24 days ago

Solid write up. Thanks!

Planeta NBA
Planeta NBA
23 days ago

Take a look to Blake Wesley. Better than DJ in his rookie year. 😉