The San Antonio Spurs of 2017-18 knew how to play basketball, but simply lacked talent to compete. How do they add it this year?
This past NBA campaign was a rather awkward one for the Spurs. They were able to make the playoffs for the 21st consecutive season. That puts them in position to tie the current record of 22 straight seasons set by the Philadelphia 76ers over half a century ago.
Additionally, San Antonio finished with a 33-8 record at home; good enough for third in the NBA.
Unfortunately for the Spurs, the positives end there.
They were dismal on offense and failed to finish the regular season with a winning percentage above .600 for the first time since 1996-97. The statistics are unquestionably troublesome for the Spurs moving forward, but perhaps even more concerning is the relationship between the teams’ front office and their franchise player, Kawhi Leonard.
After playing in only nine games for the entirety of the 2017-18 season, fans and experts around the league questioned Leonard’s dedication to the Spurs franchise. Though outside sources stirring the pot is common in the sports world, it was Popovich’s comments following a Game 2 loss to the Golden State Warriors that truly put the status of their relationship up for debate.
In short, Popovich ranted about the star-status of LaMarcus Aldridge, claiming he had been the teams’ backbone all season and never complained on the court or in the locker room,
“He just plays through everything,” the Spurs coach added, according to ESPN. “I can’t imagine being more proud of a player as far as playing through adversity and being there for his teammates night after night after night.”
This offseason is one of the more important ones for the Spurs in recent memory — they will have the challenge of bringing in new talent, but they must also make amends with Leonard. If they fail to do either of these, expect to see their impressive playoff-streak mentioned earlier evaporate following the 2018-19 regular season.
Here are some players they should be targeting.