San Antonio Spurs: 4 bold predictions for the 2021-22 NBA season
After the miscommunication and departure of Kawhi Leonard from the San Antonio Spurs, the team has not been able to become a consistent threat in the deep Western Conference. Gregg Popovich continues to be at the helm for the prominent franchise, but none of their youthful draftees have ascended to All-Star caliber level yet.
With the core of Dejounte Murray, Derrick White and Keldon Johnson, there is immense potential for this group. The loss of three key veterans in DeMar DeRozan, Rudy Gay and Patty Mills will likely hinder success once again, but Popovich expects a few guys from his roster to elevate and improve on their individual play.
With that said, here are four bold predictions for the season of the Spurs.
San Antonio Spurs Predictions For 2021-22 NBA Season
4. Keldon Johnson will be an integral cog in the future of the Spurs
After being the 12th player selected in the roster of Team USA for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics team, Johnson had the experience of spending months with some of the best players in the association. He was only inserted in short spurts in Tokyo games, but he has proven to be a smart cutter and brilliant slasher on the weak side.
— Pounding the Rock (@poundingtherock) October 23, 2021
Along with that, Johnson had a strong start last season before slowing down when the Spurs started struggling despite getting the chance to compete in the play-in tournament. Johnson must enhance his defensive capabilities because he is long and tall for the wing position.
Additionally, Johnson can orchestrate the offense as a secondary playmaker. The ceiling of Johnson excites Spurs fans because his style of play is perfect for this generation, and he could bolster his game on various facets that could make him an all-around threat offensively and defensively.
3. Dejounte Murray and Derrick White will be a headache on defense every night
It is no secret that Murray and White still have many facets of their offensive abilities that they need to improve on, especially shooting. Their assertiveness to attack the rim is already above average, but they could still become a well-rounded duo to continue making defenses guess every possession.
Some media personnel have suggested for San Antonio to package a blockbuster deal with their youthful men and veteran additions to add someone like Ben Simmons or Kyrie Irving. Even if the Sixers are attracted with Murray or White as the center of the deal, the Spurs are not known to execute big trades in the middle of the season.
As a result, it is more likely for the Spurs to pin their hopes on the lethal duo to continue growing every single season.
2. Jakob Poeltl will be able to average 2 BPG
Jakob Poeltl was part of the deal that sent Leonard to the Toronto Raptors. Interestingly, Popovich has been able to maximize his talent compared to his stint in Toronto. Despite being a traditional center that lacks shooting and speed, he more than makes up for it with his interior defense and reliable baskets in the paint. He is the perfect complement to the young wings that Popovich has drafted.
Over the last years, Coach Pop has not drafted or acquired other bigs because he has his trust on Poeltl to be their starting center of the future. With his accurate timing and awareness on the defensive side of the court, he could anticipate the guards slashing through the lane and increase his shot blocking production to two blocks per game.
"He busts his [bleep] on the boards. He runs the floor."
— Bally Sports San Antonio (@BallySportsSA) October 21, 2021
Additionally, Poeltl could also quicken his feet on the pick and roll so defenses do not capitalize on the switches.
1. This is the last season of Gregg Popovich with the Spurs
Popovich has had a long dynastic run the Spurs, headlined by Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili. With the current core they have, though, their championship aspirations are not close to occur in the next few years.
Popovich already led Team USA to a Gold medal finish in the Olympics, which is the perfect ending to a legendary career.
Assistant coach Becky Hammon could be the first female head coach, as she is deserving to take the reigns from Popovich after this 2021-22 season. The youthful players of San Antonio will be able to relate with her more as a young coach, and she could also discipline them to be more focused with constant growth.
It will not be a fun sight to see for Spurs fans this season because loses will continue to pile up for them. Patience must be exercised for a franchise that is not used to losing seasons, but there are also certain aspects of their squad that supporters could be excited about.