Here we are, with another season underway in the NBA, and there are so many questions this time around, that it’s tough to know exactly how this season is going to turn out. Some of the top players in the league have switched teams, which has to make you think that things could be different in 2018.
LeBron James is now on the Lakers, playing in the Western Conference for the first time in his career. This move alone should shake up the entire league, opening up both conferences for increased contention as the season progresses.
So what about the San Antonio Spurs? This team is vastly different than anything we’ve seen in San Antonio for more than a decade. Tim Duncan is long retired, but now that both Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili are also no longer on the roster, it’s fair to wonder just how well this team can recover from losing their core players that have guided the team to so many deep playoff runs over the years. To top it all off, Kawhi Leonard is also a goner, having been traded to the Toronto Raptors, in another blockbuster deal that signified this summer as one of the craziest and action-filled offseasons in league history.
But not all hope is lost for this team. They were able to acquire the services of another all-star in DeMar DeRozan as part of the Leonard deal. While he hasn’t exactly played his best game in his postseason career, Gregg Popovich should be able to guide him throughout the process. Ultimately, this move could end up benefiting everyone involved. Popovich actually gets a very talented player, whose personality and character are much more fitting to what he looks for in his players. At least much more the Leonard’s, which could be classified as “selfish” to put it mildly. Meanwhile, DeRozan gets a chance to be mentored by one of the best coaches in NBA history, which can only help to improve his overall game and mentality.
Pairing DeRozan with LaMarcus Aldridge could be an underrated and overlooked move right now. These guys can ball with the best of them, and they could really surprise people sooner rather than later. Meanwhile, point guard Dejounte Murray is a very solid young player, who should only improve with time. Just 22 years old, Murray will now have a chance to get a lot more playing time, which should pay dividends both to the team, as well as to his individual stats.
The Spurs also drafted shooting guard Lonnie Walker with the 18th pick in the draft. The 19 year old could come out of the gates stronger than expected, with an open lane at playing time. We’ve seen many rookies exceed expectations in recent years, and Walker has a chance to do the same.
In the end, the Spurs are going to have their growing pains. This is a new team in terms of personnel, and that is not a typical recipe for early-season success. But with Popovich as their coach, it’s more than fair to expect them to get their act together faster than many other teams in similar situations. And the two all-stars on the team will have a chance to flourish as the catalysts of this suddenly young roster.