Evaluating the 2021 San Antonio Spurs

July 7th, 2021

By Alan Lu

The San Antonio Spurs had a mix of aging veterans and inexperienced, but talented young players under legendary head coach, Gregg Popovich.  This season, the Spurs managed to exceed expectations by winning enough games to get to the play-in tournament.

They received solid seasons from the younger players as well as from former All-Star forward, DeMar DeRozan.  They ended up losing to the Memphis Grizzlies and they got eliminated, but the Spurs still had a solid season overall.

It will be a pivotal offseason for the San Antonio Spurs. Star forward, DeMar DeRozan played very well this past season, and head coach Gregg Popovich led the Spurs further than how his team was projected this year.
(Photo:
David Zalubowski/Associated Press, via Bleacher Report)

F DeMar DeRozan
2021 (SAS): 61 GP, 21.6 PPG, 6.9 APG, 4.2 RPG, 49 FG%, 26 3PT%, 88 FT%,22 PER, 59 TS%, 7.4 WS, .172 WS48

DeRozan had a very good season this year.  He especially excelled from an offensive standpoint, as he had his personal best in assists per game, and he also did a good job of scoring the basketball.  He didn’t play very well in the play-in tournament game, but he generally had a strong year overall.

2021 Season Grade: B+
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Starting forward on the San Antonio Spurs
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 3 stars

Will be an unrestricted free agent (UFA) at the end of the 2020-21 NBA season.

San Antonio Spurs’ guard, Dejounte Murray averaged roughly 16 points, 7 rebounds, and 5 assists per game for his team this past season.
(Photo:
Darren Abate/Associated Press, via San Antonio Express-News)

G Dejounte Murray
2021 (SAS): 67 GP, 15.7 PPG, 7.1 RPG, 5.4 APG, 45 FG%, 32 3PT%, 79 FT%, 16.5 PER, 51 TS%, 3.3 WS, .074 WS48

Murray took on a much larger role on his team, to which he received about mixed results.  He looked to score a lot, but he didn’t shoot the ball very well.  On the other hand, he excelled in the non-shooting and scoring related elements of this game.  He may have been over-extended a bit as a scorer this year, but he is a talented guard that can bring solid playmaking, defense, and some scoring skills to his team.

2021 Season Grade: C+
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Rotation player on the San Antonio Spurs
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 2.5 stars (3 stars potential)

San Antonio Spurs’ Keldon Johnson saw a rapid increase playing time, and he played fairly well in his second season in the NBA.
(Photo:
Brandon Dill/Associated Press, via San Antonio Express-News)

G-F Keldon Johnson
2021 (SAS): 69 GP, 12.8 PPG, 6 RPG, 1.8 APG, 48 FG%, 33 3PT%, 74 FT%, 13.8 PERm 56 TS%, 3.3 WS, .079 WS48

Johnson was able to get an ample amount of playing time this year after having played very well for the Spurs as a rookie.  He showed off versatile scoring skills, and he is an unselfish player that rebounded the ball well.  On the other hand, he didn’t shoot nearly as well from beyond the arc, and he struggled more defensively, but it’s good to see that he held his own as a starter in this league.

2021 Season Grade: C+
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Rotation player on the San Antonio Spurs
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 2.5 stars (3 stars potential)

San Antonio Spurs’ guard, Derrick Whtie averaged roughly 15 points per game this past season.
(Photo:
David Zalubowski/Associated Press, via Bleacher Report)

G Derrick White
2021 (SAS): 36 GP, 15.4 PPG, 3.5 APG, 3.0 RPG, 41 FG%, 35 3PT%, 85 FT%, 15 PER, 55 TS%, 1.9 WS, .085 WS48

He had a decent season this past year for the Spurs.  White was able to do a little bit of everything, and he especially excelled as a facilitator for his team.  He’s a steady, reliable playmaker who helped make solid contributions on both ends of the floor, even though he may not have stood out in any one particular area in general.

2021 Season Grade: C+
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Rotation player on the San Antonio Spurs
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 2.5 stars

C Jakob Poeltl
2021 (SAS): 69 GP, 8.6 PPG, 7.9 RPG, 1.9 APG, 1.8 BPG, 62 FG%, 51 FT%, 17.5 PER, 61 TS%, 5.7 WS, .148 WS48

Jakob Poeltl had a solid season, as he excelled as an interior player for his team.  He provided strong rebounding and interior defense, and he also did a good job of scoring in the paint and passing the basketball.

2021 Season Grade: B+
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Starting center on the San Antonio Spurs
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 2.5 stars

G Devin Vassell
2021 (SAS): 62 GP, 5.5 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 41 FG%, 35 3PT%, 84 FT%, 10.6 PER, 52 TS%, 1.5 WS, .069 WS48

Vassell didn’t quite shoot the ball as well as hoped, but he still was able to provide some floor spacing, and he was quite effective as a rebounder and defender for his team.  He’ll need to shoot and pass the ball better, but he still was able to play a pivotal rotation role off the bench for his team this year.

2021 Season Grade: C
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Rotation player on the San Antonio Spurs
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 2 stars (3 star potential)

G Lonnie Walker
2021 (SAS): 60 GP, 11.2 PPG, 2.6 RPG, 1.7 APG, 42 FG%, 35 3PT%, 81 FT%, 9.8 PER, 52 TS%, 0.4 WS, .012 WS48

Walker is a microwave type of scorer that is known for his outside shooting.  He didn’t seem to do much else other than knock down some outside shots and score the basketball, and he will need to play much better, as he struggled to score efficiently, to pass, or to defend this past season.

2021 Season Grade: C-
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Rotation player on the San Antonio Spurs
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 2 stars (2.5 stars potential)

F Rudy Gay
2021 (SAS): 63 GP, 11.4 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 1.4 APG, 42 FG%, 38 3PT%, 80 FT%, 14.7 PER, 53 TS%, 1.7 WS, .059 WS48

Rudy Gay shot the ball well, especially from beyond the arc, and he also helped out on the glass for his team.  He struggled a little more to score on two-pointers, and he was only about middling defensively.  The Spurs have missed the playoffs for the past two seasons, so Gay might choose to sign elsewhere, but he has the versatility that could enable him to sign with a contender in the offseason.

2021 Season Grade: C+
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Rotation player on an NBA team
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 2 stars

Will be an unrestricted free agent (UFA) at the end of the 2020-21 NBA season.

G Patty Mills
2021 (SAS): 68 GP, 10.8 PPG, 2.4 APG, 1.7 RPG, 41 FG%, 38 3PT%, 91 FT%, 11.8 PER, 57 TS%, 2.2 WS, .062 WS48

Mills is an aging backup point guard that still was able to shoot the ball fairly well, and he was quite effective as a scorer off the bench.  He was less effective in the other areas of the game, but he was still able to help his team offensively this year.

2021 Season Grade: C
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Rotation player on an NBA team
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 2 stars

Will be an unrestricted free agent (UFA) at the end of the 2020-21 NBA season.

F Trey Lyles
2021 (SAS): 23 GP, 5.0 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 48 FG%, 35 3PT%, 65 FT%, 11.4 PER, 57 TS%, 0.6 WS, .085 WS48

He didn’t shoot the ball very often, but he showed that he can shoot and score within limited touches, and he was active on the glass.  He didn’t look to score nearly enough, and he wasn’t elite as a shooter.  He was fairly middling as a defender, as he didn’t quite stand out on that end of the floor.

2021 Season Grade: C-
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Rotation player on an NBA team
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 2 stars

Will be an unrestricted free agent (UFA) at the end of the 2020-21 NBA season.

C Gorgui Dieng
2021 (MEM/SAS): 38 GP, 6.8 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 1.3 APG, 52 FG%, 43 3PT%, 87 FT%, 19.2 PER, 67 TS%, 2.1 WS, .185 WS48

Dieng was a very good, per-minute bench player for both the Grizzlies and Spurs, but he actually didn’t play nearly as much as he should or could have this past season.  He was in a long jam for playing time in Memphis, and he then got hurt in San Antonio, which impeded his ability to get into a rotation sooner for them.

When he did play, he was very good as a shooter and interior defender for his team.  His ability to shoot and defend in the paint could enable him to be a regular rotation player in the NBA next season.

2021 Season Grade: B- (B- w/MEM and SAS)
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Backend roster player, possible backend of the rotation player in the NBA
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 2 stars

Will be an unrestricted free agent (UFA) at the end of the 2020-21 NBA season.

C Drew Eubanks
2021 (SAS): 54 GP, 5.8 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 57 FG%, 73 FT%, 17.9 PER, 62 TS%, 2.3 WS, .145 WS48

Eubanks played very well in his role off the bench.  He excelled as an interior player for his team, as he did a good job of scoring, rebounding, and defending in the paint.  

2021 Season Grade: B
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Backend roster player, possible backend of the rotation player in the NBA
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 2 stars

His contract is non-guaranteed for next season.

G Tre Jones
2021 (SAS): 37 GP, 2.5 PPG, 1.1 APG, 47 FG%, 60 3PT%, 89 FT%, 12.1 PER, 54 TS%, 0.4 WS, .066 WS48
2021 (G-League): 7 GP, 18.1 PPG, 9.7 APG, 5.3 RPG, 1.4 SPG, 45 FG%, 8 3PT%, 83 FT%, 21.4 PER, 59 TS%, 0.7 WS,  .145 WS48

Tre Jones showed off solid playmaking skills at both of the levels, but he was inconsistent with his outside shot and defensive skills this past season.

2021 Season Grade: C
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Backend roster player, possible backend of the rotation player in the NBA
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 1.5 stars (2 stars potential)

F-C Luka Šamanić
2021 (SAS): 33 GP, 3.7 PPG, 2.1 RPG, 45 FG%, 28 3PT%, 55 FT%, 9.8 PER, 52 TS%, 0.1 WS, .015 WS48
2021 (G-League): 6 GP, 21.8 PPG, 11.3 RPG, 2.2 APG, 44 FG%, 30 3PT%, 71 FT%, 15.6 PER, 54 TS%, 0.1 WS, .034 WS48

He showed some promise is a mobile, skilled stretch big at the end of his rookie season, but he struggled to make an impact in his second year in the NBA.  Right now, he’s still more of a project player that hasn’t yet found his way to firmly grasp a rotation role on his team so far.

2021 Season Grade: D-
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Backend roster player, possible backend of the rotation player in the NBA
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 1.5 stars (2 stars potential)

F Keita Bates-Diop
2021 (SAS): 30 GP, 2.6 PPG, 1.6 RPG, 45 FG%, 29 3PT%, 67 FT%, 12 PER, 52 TS%, 0.3 WS, .068 WS48

He didn’t shoot or score the ball nearly as well as expected, but he did provide some rebounding and defense for his team.  However, he didn’t really do enough to suggest that he’d be worth putting into a team’s rotation in the NBA.

2021 Season Grade: D
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Backend roster player, possible backend of the rotation player in the NBA
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 1.5 stars (2 stars potential)

G Quinndary Weatherspoon
2021 (SAS): 20 GP, 2.3 PPG, 46 FG%, 17 3PT%, 81 FT%, 9.6 PER, 55 TS%, 0.1 WS, .023 WS48
2021 (G-League): 1 GP, 22 PPG, 3 RPG, 2 APG, 53 FG%, 25 3PT%, 67 FT%, 21 PER, 62 TS%, -0.1 WS, -.173 WS48

He did not play very well this past season, as he really didn’t shoot the ball very well.  He did play adequate defense, but he didn’t really do enough to suggest that he’d be worth a putting into a team’s rotation in the NBA.

2021 Season Grade: D-
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Backend roster player, possible backend of the rotation player in the NBA (Rotation player in the G-League)
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 1.5 stars (2 stars potential)

G-F DaQuan Jeffries
2021 (SAC/HOU): 31 GP, 4.1 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 42 FG%, 30 3PT%, 88 FT%, 7.9 PRE, 51 TS%, 0.3 WS, .027 WS48

DeQuan Jeffries has been inconsistent with his shooting and scoring, but he is a very athletic, physical swingman that plays hard on both ends of the floor.  He’s excelled as a finisher around the basket and he rebounds the ball well, but he needs to work on his outside shot and on-ball defense.  He did manage to sign on with the San Antonio Spurs at the end of the season.   The absolute best case scenario would be if he were to hone his skills and develop into a 3 and D role player similar to Phoenix Suns’ forward, Torrey Craig in the NBA, but Jeffries still has a long way to go to get there.

2021 Season Grade: D+ (D+ w/SAC and HOU)
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Fringe roster player in the NBA (or solid starter in the G-League)
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 1.5 stars (2 star potential)

He has a team option that can be exercised by his team for next season.

San Antonio Spurs’ legendary head coach, Gregg Popovich has won 5 NBA titles in his head coaching career, and he also was able to help lead his team to the play-in tournament this past season.
(Photo:
Frank Franklin II/Associated Press, via Austin American-Statesman)

Head Coach:
Gregg Popovich
2021 (SAS): 33-39, did not make the playoffs
Coaching Career: 1310-653, 170-114 in his playoff career, won 5 NBA titles with the 1999 Spurs, the 2003 Spurs, the 2005 Spurs, the 2007 Spurs, and the 2014 Spurs

He had a solid season, as he helped his team get to the play-in tournament this season.  The Spurs weren’t expected to contend for the playoffs, but they were almost able to get there.  He did a very good job of coaching his team, and he led them to about as far as they could go this year.

2021 Season Grade: B
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Head Coach of the San Antonio Spurs
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 3.5 stars

A Brief Summary of the 2020-21 San Antonio Spurs’ Season:

They did a good job of getting to the play-in tournament, but they rated around average both on offense and defense.  Though they were coached well and have a solid mix of veterans and young players, they just didn’t have enough offensive firepower, and they ended up losing to the Memphis Grizzlies in the play-in tournament, which eliminated any chance for the Spurs to get to the postseason.  Still, the Spurs had a fairly solid season overall.

The 2020-21 San Antonio Spurs’ Season Grade: B-

The San Antonio Spurs’ Projected 2021-22 NBA Rotation

Projected Starters:
C Jakob Poeltl
F Keldon Johnson
F Devin Vassell
G Dejounte Murray
G Derrick White

Key Reserves:
G Lonnie Walker
The 12th Overall Pick of the 2021 NBA Draft
C Drew Eubanks

Others competing for a spot in the rotation next season:
G Tre Jones
F-C Luka Samanic
The 41st Overall Pick of the 2021 NBA Draft
F Keita Bates-Diop

Other players that are currently projected to be on their next season’s roster:
G-F DaQuan Jeffries
G Quinndary Weatherspoon

Unrestricted Free Agents:
F DeMar DeRozan – Not Expected Back
G Patty Mills – Not Expected Back
F Rudy Gay – Not Expected Back
F Trey Lyles – Not Expected Back
C Gorgui Dieng – Not Expected Back

Players with an Impending Team Option:
G-F DaQuan Jeffries – Expected Back

2021 NBA Draft Picks:
#12, #41

Projected Offseason Plan for the San Antonio Spurs:
The Spurs may be planning to go to a rebuild, and so if they choose not to re-sign All-Star forward, DeMar DeRozan, that would confirm their plans to do so.  If so, they would then have a lot of money left that they could spend or roll over.

They could look to sign wing players or a big man to slot into DeRozan’s spot if they choose not to re-sign DeRozan, and they also could look to draft players that fit those positions, or to select the best player available in the draft.

The 2022 San Antonio Spurs’ Expected Win-Loss Record and 2022 Season Prediction:
32-50, 11th in the Western Conference

Expected 2022 Season Outcome:
If the Spurs opt to go to a rebuild, they might finish near the bottom of the Western Conference next season.

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