If you stopped watching basketball three years ago and turned on the television today to watch a San Antonio Spurs game, you would wonder who the heck these guys are.
Not just because the Spurs have had so much roster turnover, but because their style of play does not even resemble the philosophy that helped them forge one of the NBA’s greatest runs from 1999 through 2017.
Gone is the pass-heavy offense that had defenses scrambling. Gone is the remarkable depth. And as for San Antonio on the defensive side of the ball? To say it’s night and day would be an understatement.
Entering their matchup with the Dallas Mavericks on Monday night, the Spurs are just 5-8 and have lost five games in a row. They are surrendering an average of 121.8 points pr game during their current skid, and there doesn’t appear to be a solution in sight.
So, just what is wrong with San Antonio?
That’s a long list, but it starts with the two guys who are supposed to be its two best players in LaMarcus Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan.
When Aldridge and DeRozan are both on the floor at the same time (which is generally most of the game), the Spurs have a minus-5.3 net rating, which is inexcusable.
For DeRozan, this is nothing new, as he has been posting negative net ratings regularly throughout his NBA career, but for Aldridge, it’s an indication that Father Time has hit him with an uppercut.
Aldridge is averaging 18.5 points and 6.5 rebounds per game this season, his lowest marks in five seasons with San Antonio. The offense has been stagnant when he has been on the floor, and defensively, he has declined quite a bit.
But what should we expect from two guys who are primarily iso-ball scorers in a league where that type of offense has gone virtually extinct?
This is the Spurs right now, and I’m not sure Gregg Popovich and R.C. Buford, historically a spot-on duo of executives, even know what they’re doing at the moment.
DeRozan? Aldridge? Rudy Gay? Let’s also not forget that San Antonio had a deal done with Marcus Morris until he backed out of it.
That would have given the Spurs four iso scorers, which was basically something they were allergic to during the Tim Duncan days.
So what exactly is going on here? Are the Spurs changing their philosophy for the worse? Are they panicking? Or are they just trying to throw a bunch of talented players together regardless of fit?
I don’t know what it is, but the Spurs culture that we have come to know and love over the last two decades has completely vanished, and I’m not sure it’s going to correct itself any time soon.
San Antonio is suddenly in treadmill mode, and unless another Duncan or a Kawhi Leonard comes along in the draft, the Spurs are going to have a lot of difficulty coming out of it.
This does not even resemble a playoff team right now, and based on the head-scratching roster construction, I don’t think any of us should be all that surprised.
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