6 early-season takeaways from the San Antonio Spurs

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With one-quarter of the season now in the books, we now have a much better idea of how good (or bad) the San Antonio Spurs really are. The Spurs started the season 5-2, but after losing eight straight games, they now sit at 6-15. This team was expected to be among the worst in the NBA, but they initially managed to exceed expectations only to end up being bad.

That roller coaster start can make it difficult to draw conclusions from this Spurs team, which features several good players, including a couple of Most Improved candidates, but is freefalling in the standings. Despite that, here are six takeaways from the team’s first 21 games of the season.

Takeaway #6: The Spurs have turned other teams’ castoffs into unlikely rotation players.

The San Antonio Spurs have a long history of acquiring underrated players, incorporating them into their system, and having them play well. For instance, Bruce Bowen, Matt Bonner, Danny Green, Patty Mills, and Boris Diaw all came to the Spurs with little fanfare but were able to prove themselves and become crucial members of the rotation.

The Spurs have continued that trend of taking in other teams’ castoffs and turning them into something this season with players such as Zach Collins, Romeo Langford, Keita Bates-Diop, and Charles Bassey.

Collins has played well on both ends of the floor, giving the second unit a shot of energy. He’s a skilled offensive player who can space the floor and finish efficiently in the paint. Defensively, he’s made strides as a rim protector and an enforcer, helping to solidify himself as a key rotation player after injuries threatened his career.

Langford was a throw-in in the Derrick White trade and was initially at risk of being waived prior to the season. Now, he’s carved out a role as a defensive wing stopper, with coach Gregg Popovich even saying, “He might be our best on-ball defender. He just might be. He’s got quick feet, he’s got long arms, he anticipated really well.” That’s high praise for someone who looked like he was on his way out of the NBA.

Bates-Diop was a former second-round pick who had stops in Minnesota and Denver before joining the Spurs. At 6’8 with a massive 7’3 wingspan, Bates-Diop is a lanky power forward who is both a terrific defender and a surprisingly effective offensive player. This is despite scoring primarily off of cuts, drives, and in transition.

Last but not least, there’s Bassey, who was signed after being waived by the 76ers. Bassey has provided them with a highly productive and athletic center and is young enough to possibly have a future with the team. If the Spurs can keep finding these players, then that should help speed up their rebuild.



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