Can the Spurs Ride Young Talent Back to the Post-Season?

The San Antonio Spurs failed to reach the post-season for the first time in 23 years in the 2019/20 campaign, placing in 11th overall in the Western Conference. The franchise have been a model of consistency under the tenure of Gregg Popovich, competing in the playoffs and for the NBA Championship for the majority of his tenure.

The loss of Kawhi Leonard in 2018 was a hammer blow for the Spurs, losing the key figure on the court that Popovich planned to build the next era of the team around in the mould of Tim Duncan. Unlike Duncan, Leonard was not willing to commit his future to San Antonio and was traded to the Toronto Raptors, winning the NBA Championship the following campaign.

The Right Balance

After two years of underachievement, the Spurs look to have found a rhythm with their veterans in DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge along with rising talents Dejounte Murray, Derrick White, Lonnie Walker, Keldon Johnson and Jakob Pöltl. Popovich’s men have produced solid form in the Western Conference, boasting a 16-11 record after 27 games. Consistency has been an issue as the franchise have produced outstanding wins over the Los Angeles Lakers, Boston Celtics, Golden State Warriors and Denver Nuggets. However, San Antonio have also lost games against the Minnesota Timberwolves, Memphis Grizzlies and the underachieving Dallas Mavericks.

It highlights that the Spurs are capable of beating anyone on their day, but also on the other side of the coin losing to any team in the NBA. Popovich’s men are not alone in that regard as seemingly every franchise has struggled to string together a series of results. As a result, monitoring the FunBet live betting odds is worthwhile given the topsy-turvy nature of games this term as there could be value to be found to be on the Spurs. Their second-half surge against the Warriors was evidence that predicting games and the season has been far from straightforward for pundits.

Although Popovich is perhaps the best coach in the NBA, few would have anticipated that the Spurs would be in contention for one of the top four seeds in the Western Conference. San Antonio are now in a situation where they should be looking up rather than down due to the development of their young players. Given the form of the Mavericks this term, San Antonio should at the least be targeting the Southwest Division crown. They’ve failed to win the division since 2017, but the signs are encouraging for a return to the summit this season amid the troubles of their rivals – even if Dallas boast Luka Doncic in their ranks.

De Rozan and Aldridge have been operating at their usual standard, but the boost from San Antonio’s young talent has afforded Popovich the chance to re-establish his side as a potential power in the Western Conference. Johnson has taken significant steps forward in his second season, averaging 14.3 points per game after 26 games this term. After a stop-start career, Murray is fulfilling his potential on the court. His growth might be the more exciting prospect for the team in the current campaign as the point guard is pairing his experience and development to produce his best basketball since entering the league in 2016.

There could still be a lot of twists and turns down the line for San Antonio, but Popovich on the sideline may well be the difference, whereas other franchises may endure a rollercoaster of a season.