Another NBA regular season is nearly in the books, and surprise surprise, the San Antonio Spurs are once again firmly positioned to partake in the postseason festivities. Although the Silver and Black are in the midst of a league-leading nine-game winning streak, their situation wasn’t always so peachy.
It may be a bit tough to remember, but just five short months ago San Antonio was scrambling to find their footing amid an offseason of several significant changes.
Where was the organization heading? How would DeMar DeRozan fit next to another midrange specialist in LaMarcus Aldridge? And who would replace the injured Dejounte Murray at starting point guard with Tony Parker lured away by Charlotte?
As it turns out, we wouldn’t wait all that long to receive answers to these many pressing questions. Gregg Popovich made do with the resources at hand, DeRozan fit in swimmingly and Bryn Forbes slid right into the starting lineup.
Today, the Spurs are tied for fifth place with the potential to continue climbing the Western Conference standings before it’s all said and done. They’ve outperformed even the most generous of preseason projections, but this sort of success wouldn’t have been possible without the understated contributions of one Michigan State alumnus.
Bryn Forbes isn’t the best player on the team nor the most important piece of the offense. Forbes is, however, the glue that’s held the roster intact when injuries have threatened to derail the season.
Most third-string guards don’t have the ability to fill in for the starters, let alone the reserves. Luckily for San Antonio, Sparty isn’t like most third-stringers.
Forbes didn’t walk into the league ready to contribute from day one. In fact, a spot on an NBA roster was far from guaranteed for the undrafted sharpshooter.
A four-year starter in college, Forbes was considered too one dimensional and undersized to excel to the next level. Despite underwhelming evaluations of his game, Bryn caught fire from three-point land during the 2016 Utah Summer League, carried his hot shooting into the preseason and secured a contract with the San Antonio Spurs.
Though the combo guard impressed head coach Gregg Popovich enough to earn his way onto the opening day roster, Forbes found little to no action in the NBA. Shooting woes and defensive shortcomings became a concern and he was quickly relegated to the Austin Spurs of the G League.
Just as Forbes’ future with the Spurs was beginning to look grim, something incredible happened on the night of April 7, 2017. With Tony Parker, Manu Ginóbili and Kawhi Leonard on the bench, Bryn exploded for a career-high 27 points to lead the shorthanded Spurs to a 102-89 come-from-behind victory over the Dallas Mavericks.
Forbes stellar play wasn’t rewarded with more minutes and he played a minimal role in San Antonio’s Western Conference Finals run that year. He’d clearly turned heads, but he wasn’t finished carving out a future with the Spurs.
Once the offseason came, it was back to the gym to hone his craft. The former Spartan returned the next season as a legitimate three-point threat off the bench and has since become one of the most lethal catch-and-shoot snipers in the league.
Asked Popovich if Bryn Forbes reminds him a bit of Gary Neal…said “No.” instead he picked Steph Curry. Asked if he meant Seth? Nope… Steph #Spurs
— Jabari Young (@JabariJYoung) December 6, 2017
Last year he added more consistency to his jump shot and this offseason he tacked on muscle to his slight frame. Every summer he seems to bolster his bag of tricks, and as you can see by his shot chart, all of that arduous repetition is beginning to pay off.
Check out Bryn Forbes' shot chart comparison from last year to this season. He still struggles at times to finish at the rim, but take a look at all the cold spots he's erased.
— Noah Magaro-George ??? (@N_Magaro) March 18, 2019
This season Bryn Forbes is averaging career-highs in literally every statical category. While he likely won’t be considered for the Most Improved Player of the Year Award, his considerable strides on the court should be praised.
San Antonio doesn’t live and die by Forbes on a game to game basis. He has glaring flaws on both ends of the floor, but without his steady presence, the Spurs could easily be looking at a losing record.
Bryn hasn’t missed a single game this season and that counts for something when your team is banged up night in and night out. His motor runs high and he’s filled some large shoes about as well as we could hope for.
All this playing time has helped the 6-foot-3 guard gain invaluable experience. So what happens when his minutes inevitably decrease next season?
Will he return to the second-unit? Will he remain a starter? Will the Spurs look to trade him while his value is high?
Let’s address the latter first. Forbes isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Not only is he a fan favorite, but he’s an absolute bargain at the price of his contract. It would be irresponsible for San Antonio to unload such a steal.
Now let’s move on to the issue of his starting status. No, there’s little chance for Bryn Forbes to remain in the starting five. The emergence of Derrick White coupled with the return of Dejounte Murray has all but erased that scenario.
Don’t worry Forbes fans, he won’t disappear into the depths of the G League again. Bryn has more than guaranteed big minutes off the pine for the foreseeable future.
Although Pop may tinker with the rotations, knockdown shooters will always have a place in the association. And in case you haven’t noticed, Forbes is one best marksmen in the business.
Countdown City should salute Forbes for his efforts and welcome him back to the bench with open arms. The Silver and Black are home to a dangerous group of second-unit scorers, now imagine how deadly they can become once Bryn Forbes rejoins the party.