The San Antonio Spurs are back on course for a post-season berth in the 2020/21 season after missing the NBA playoffs for the first time in 22 years in the last campaign. Gregg Popovich is slowly but surely moulding another roster capable of contending in the Western Conference. The Spurs are grinding out results to sit atop of the Southwest Division after their opening 30 games of the term.
The Dallas Mavericks are beginning to find their touch behind the Spurs, with the rising star of Luka Doncic ushering his team forwards. Both teams are far from perfect, but the star power of Doncic could be worth its weight in gold if it’s a straight battle between the two sides for a post-season berth. The Mavericks are the leading contenders in the odds on NBA betting on bet365 at -105 to win the division for the first time in 11 years. San Antonio will press them all the way, but will have to rely on their team ethos rather than a superstar to guide them towards the crown.
It’s a role reversal for Popovich, given that he had the star man to mould his teams around in the form of Tim Duncan and then Kawhi Leonard. Since Leonard’s departure in 2018 to the Toronto Raptors, DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge have done their utmost to fill the void.
However, neither player could claim to be an orbital player at this stage in their careers. DeRozan has enjoyed another solid campaign; he is a model of consistency on the court. The issue that has plagued his career was his inability to raise his game in key moments during the post-season for the Raptors. His role has changed with the Spurs, becoming a leadership figure for the fledgling talent that has emerged at the franchise.
Dejounte Murray endured an underwhelming start to his NBA career as he experienced a spate of injuries and a lack of form on the court. At the age of 24, he has started to blossom into a quality point guard, averaging 15.8 points per game.
Murray is developing all facets of his game, placing behind only DeRozan in points and Jakob Poetl in rebounds, while, after 30 games, he places eighth overall in the NBA in steals, leading the team in the process. Murray’s rise has been all the more important, considering that Derrick White has been sidelined for the majority of the term. White’s return to the fold will bolster the depth that Popovich can throw on to the court later in the campaign.
Lonnie Walker and Keldon Johnson have been equally impressive for the Spurs in their respective roles. Johnson has built on his solid rookie season and has become an important shooter for Popovich’s men. Walker has become a reliable player and there is ample room for growth only at the age of 22.
Popovich has the foundations of another promising team, with grounded veterans and young players on the rise. It will be an interesting clash of philosophies in the Southwest Division to see whether a team ethos is more important than one singular star in the NBA.