NBA

Spurs depth chart breakdown: Guards will need to find strength in numbers

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The off-season is calming down. The draft is a thing of the past and free agency is almost over. There are still a few big trades that could happen, but for the most part teams have built their rosters, and Spurs are no exception.

Some of the names will likely change on opening night, but now is a good time to take a look at how the depth chart currently looks, to see what the strengths and weaknesses of the team are. . To do this, we’ll go over the three main groups: backs, forwards and big guys.

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Let’s start with the guards.

Depth Chart

PG: Tre Jones – Josh Primo – Blake Wesley

SG: Devin Vassell – Malaki Branham – Josh Richardson

Tre Jones is the only pure playmaker on the roster, and given there isn’t much ball handling in the starting lineup, it’s probably the right move to have him replace Dejounte Murray as the roster. as starting PG of the team. Josh Primo will likely spend time as a lead guard as well, while rookie Blake Wesley will likely get the scraps as a third string. At the shooting position, Devin Vassell should have his starting spot locked, with Primo backing him up and rookie Malaki Branham also getting a few minutes. Josh Richardson could replace from the spot if Spurs decide to go bigger at the small forward.

Weaknesses: There is little plan creation and outdoor shooting

What becomes clear immediately is that the group lacks proven, heavy-duty blueprint creation. For Vassell and Richardson, more than three-quarters of their total marks were assisted last season. Primo was assisted over two-thirds of his own. Jones created a shade on half his buckets which is better but not great. Rookies carried heavy offensive loads in college, but might initially struggle to make an impact. Wesley was ineffective even at a lower level and could take a while to develop. Branham’s heavy pick-and-roll offense could come in handy in spurts, but it remains to be seen if he can play a big role in the pros while still receiving meaningful defensive attention. Probably the biggest weakness on paper right now for the Guard Corps is the lack of a clear, high-use option to function as an attack engine.

Unfortunately, this is not the only problem. Outdoor shooting could also be an issue. Jones has been a very reluctant shooter since college, and despite working there for the final two months of last season, he only shot 24% on 1.45 attempts per night from the outside when of his last 20 games. Primo was a willing shooter and his shot looked great early on, but the results so far haven’t been impressive as he only landed 31% of his shots as a rookie. Wesley, meanwhile, only shot 30% from outside in college. All three might struggle to play with the ball, which makes the prospect of playing at least two of them together tricky. Vassell, Branham and Richardson should fare better, but there are also question marks surrounding their shooting. Richardson ran a career-best one mile last season, Vassell was only league average and Branham was not a volume shooter at Ohio State. Spacing could be an issue.

Strengths: It may not have been proven, but there is depth

There are reasons to be optimistic about the rotation despite some clear issues. It’s possible that Jones’ game has more scalability than it’s appeared so far as a primary ball handler, and the rest of the guards could provide the committee’s hitmaking. Primo has reps at the main point guard at the NBA level, and Branham and Wesley acted as star options in college, so they won’t be completely out of their element on the ball. It’s also possible that Vassell or Keldon Johnson will step forward as self-creators as well, easing the burden on the younger ones. Josh Richardson could also lend a hand, although relying on him would not be ideal. It can be tricky to know who’s going to create on any given night, but with a little mixing and matching, the guards should be able to craft some open looks as a group.

Similarly, there may not be standout defenders among the guards – although Vassell could easily become one – but there is plenty of length and athleticism. Other than Jones, everyone is 6’4″ or taller, with a solid wingspan. Almost any combination should work. The team’s heavy schemes have been difficult for the younger players to master at times, which should continue, but just having the size should help. There’s also a good mix of defenders on the ball, like Jones and Primo, and disruptive team defenders like Vassell and, potentially, Wesley. The foundations for eventually building a good perimeter defense seem to be there and it will be interesting to see what pairings work well looking ahead. Spreading the offensive load among multiple players should also allow everyone to exert effort on the other side, which could lead to a level of activity that turns defense into attack.

Outlook

Losing an All-Star without replacing him with a veteran clearly left Spurs significantly weaker at guard. Murray was a solid first option on offense, and while not as good at the other end as he was earlier in his career, he was still an above-average point-of-attack defender. . No one currently on the list can deliver the two-way output they delivered. There’s no getting around it: the guard game is likely to be one of Spurs’ biggest weaknesses next season.

The consistent lack of skill should be mitigated by entertaining play from talented young players, at least. Even if the rookies don’t do much racing initially, it will be fascinating to see how Jones, Primo and Vassell develop. And there’s a chance that on any given night, at least one of the guards will do something that shows their potential and helps the team compete.

Hopefully, this will happen often enough to keep most games fun.

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