Examining Spurs data by positions played last season

Project Spurs illustration/Associated Press

Once Bryn Forbes, Marco Belinelli, and Dante Cunningham officially sign their contracts with the San Antonio Spurs, the Spurs’ roster will hold 15 players.

Using the positions data from CleaningTheGlass.com, the Spurs’ current roster is displayed below. Since Lonnie Walker IV mostly played the shooting guard position at Summer League, I’m placing him in the wings area for now.

Points Combos Wings Forwards Bigs
Dejounte Murray Patty Mills Kawhi Leonard Rudy Gay LaMarcus Aldridge
    Danny Green Dante Cunningham Pau Gasol
    Manu Ginobili   Davis Bertans
    Marco Belinelli    
    Bryn Forbes    
    Derrick White    
    Lonnie Walker IV    
    Brandon Paul    


This summer, whenever I’ve displayed the depth chart above on social media, I’ve been asked different questions about why Player X isn’t a combo or why Player Y isn’t a forward. The website CleaningTheGlass.com has an excellent system in place for tracking what position players played when in a game and then grouping them into categories. On that site, positions are broken down into five different groups – points, combos, wings, forwards, and bigs.

To be classified as a point, that player played most of their possessions on the floor as a point guard. Example: Dejounte Murray logged 3,287 possessions as a point guard.

To be classified as a combo, that player played most of their possessions as a point guard and shooting guard.

To be classified as a wing, that player played most of their possessions as a shooting guard and small forward.

To be classified as a forward, that player played most of their possessions as a small forward and power forward.

To be classified as a big, that player played most of their possessions as a power forward or center, or both.

In the next chart below, you’re going to see where each Spurs player played last season based on their possessions when they were in games. This chart includes data for two of the Spurs’ new free agents – Belinelli and Cunningham. Walker IV is excluded from this chart because he hasn’t logged any NBA minutes yet.

Though the Spurs’ roster is already filled out with 15 players, there’s still a few questions regarding what the roster will look like on opening night. For one, the Leonard situation is still quiet on all fronts. There’s been no serious trade discussions reported and as of right now, the Spurs’ message has been that they’re going to take their time with their decision regarding Leonard.

Ginobili is another question mark since he hasn’t publicly stated whether he’s going to return for another season or if he’s going to retire. Paul also might not be on the opening night roster since the Spurs need to decide by August 1 whether to waive him or allow his deal to become fully guaranteed for next season.

One common question that gets asked frequently is whether the Spurs will add another big man. As the data above shows, Aldridge and Gasol primarily played the center role in different lineups last season. Joffrey Lauvergne played 764 possessions at center too, but he was hurt for the early part of the season and when he was finally healthy, he couldn’t secure a consistent position in the rotation. Two-way player Matt Costello only logged 23 possessions at center, and with the league continuing to get smaller with more perimeter oriented attacks, the Spurs will likely continue with Aldridge and Gasol playing most of the minutes as center. It wouldn’t be surprising to see the Spurs give one of their two-way spots to a big man just to have a third backup center in Austin.

For now, this is where the Spurs’ roster stands in terms of where their current players played last season. With more players who can play on the wing, it’ll be interesting to see which type of lineups Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich initially starts using in the preseason.


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