In less than one week, the San Antonio Spurs will be taking the court to train for the 2021-22 NBA season. NBA training camps begin on September 28th, where the coaching staff can get their first look at the roster to help determine rotations and strategies.
With 17 players currently under contract and one two-way spot locked up by Joe Wieskamp, the front office will have to cut at least two players from the team before October 18th.
We’ve previously speculated the most likely candidates to be waived or traded, with Chandler Hutchison already being one cut. Still, more moves will need to be made over the next month to meet NBA regulations.
Training camp could give the Spurs a better idea of who might be cut while also getting the roster in game shape. It also will serve as an early look at which players should be plugged in where and how everyone should be utilized.
As the Silver and Black hit the hardwood again, here are two position battles to watch for at training camp.
1. What should the power forward rotation look like?
While the NBA is increasingly getting more positionless by the year, the departures of DeMar DeRozan and Rudy Gay means the four spot is up for grabs this season.
Both spent much of the season in that slot while the rest of the young core fought for minutes at the small forward and shooting guard positions.
A wild card pick for starting power forward could be Luka Samanic, who started in four games last year during the Spurs’ COVID outbreak. The team’s recent promotion of Austin Spurs coach Matt Nielsen to Popovich’s staff also hints at a larger role for Luka this year.
Still, having a proven shooter on the court like McDermott might be smarter to start the season. Having him on the court should open up driving lanes for Keldon Johnson and Dejounte Murray better than DeRozan was able to.
Thaddeus Young also had an impressive season with Chicago last year and could be a veteran presence in the starting lineup. His name has frequently come up in trade talks, however, so he may not even be around to battle for power forward minutes.
2. Who should be the backup point guard this season?
The new season brings a host of different ways the Spurs can approach the point guard position. While Dejounte Murray should average around 33 minutes per game to pace San Antonio, he’ll need a reliable backup to hold the fort when it’s time to rest.
The viable candidates that can play point guard are Tre Jones, Bryn Forbes, and Derrick White. Barring an unexpected shift in the rotation, however, White should be starting alongside Murray. Still, there may be stretches where the two are staggered to maintain a defensive anchor on the wings.
Coach Popovich famously loved playing Forbes extended minutes in his first stint with the team, which led to good shooting but porous overall defense.
Tre Jones dominated in the NBA Summer League and looks primed for a backup role, but I’m not sure Popovich is completely sold on that idea yet.
Jones and Forbes mirror each other in that one excels at defense but is limited on offense while the other is the inverse of that. Still, Tre showed strides in offense and could use training camp to continue building upon that.
It should be an exciting training camp for Spurs fans looking to get an idea of how the roster will shape up come October.