The San Antonio Spurs are far removed from the perennial title candidate they were throughout the 2000s. Father Time proved to be too big of a foe, as did the Kawhi Leonard situation, and the Gregg Popovich-led team is now in a rebuild. They still have some good pieces, but they will likely not contend for the next few years.

Still, they are in a fight for the play-in tournament and might even reach it this season. Also, they have a player in Dejounte Murray to build around, so with the right decisions, the Spurs could be back on track soon enough. When it comes to this season specifically, here are two burning questions for the Spurs after the 2022 All-Star break.

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Spurs Burning Questions 

1. Is Dejounte Murray for real and will he get the Spurs to the play-in? 

In essence, these are two questions, but they are heavily linked. The Spurs are currently 11th in the Western Conference with a record of 23-36. They are two games behind the 10th-place Portland Trail Blazers and four and a half games behind the ninth-place Los Angeles Lakers. These might seem like big gaps, but with the form of the Lakers (plus Anthony Davis' injury) and the dismantling of the Blazers, the Spurs can definitely squeeze into 10th. Obviously, getting to the 10th spot does not mean much, as they would still have to win two games and then play a series with a much better team, but it might mean a lot to the youngsters on this Spurs roster.

One such youngster is Dejounte Murray, and he is having a fantastic season. He is currently averaging an incredible 19.9 points, 9.3 assists, 8.3 rebounds, and 2.0 steals while shooting 45.9% from the field. These are great numbers, earning Murray an All-Star slot in the process as a replacement. If he was not there, it is likely that the Spurs would be around the bottom of the conference and out of the play-in race. However, there are some doubts about Murray going forward.

Like any organization in any professional sport, the Spurs are looking to build back their status as a championship contender. If Murray is the best player and leader, it is tough to see that team being something more than a lower-seeded playoff team. If the Spurs draft or get some bigger names, it would mean a lesser role for Murray and his production might take a dip after that. In simpler terms, the Spurs are going to need to figure out what exactly they want to do with Murray in the context of their future.

Also, this could be just one season. Murray has the keys of the squad and no real competition as a first option. In the NBA, there are always some good players who look great on struggling teams. Obviously, the Spurs are struggling, even though they are fairly close to the coveted 10th spot. If they become a contending team in the near future, Murray's numbers could look vastly different.

2. What is the worth of getting into the play-in?

With Gregg Popovich at the helm, the team will always play for the win and play hard. The Spurs had 22 winning seasons in a row under Popovich, and 20 of them featured 50 wins or more. Yet, at this point in time, winning for the Spurs just is not profitable. Of course, it would keep their winning mentality around the organization, which is obviously fantastic, especially for the young guys. However, with a very good draft class coming up, it is probably better to lose some games.

Once again, as was suggested above, Popovich will continue to coach these guys to go hard and win. Unfortunately, that would end up being the wrong strategy. In the best-case scenario, the Spurs make it into the postseason by being 10th. They would still have two games away from home to even make it into the playoffs. If they somehow pulled off two wins, they would either face the Phoenix Suns or Golden Warriors, depending on who gets the first seed at the end of the season. That sounds like a mountain to climb simply to get swept by one of the aforementioned teams.

The worst-case scenario, however, does not look good for the Spurs. They might risk a few injuries and the most important one is Dejounte Murray, who missed an entire year of NBA basketball due to an ACL injury in his right knee. There are other guys, like Keldon Johnson and Joshua Primo, who might be pushed into playing out of their skin just to fall short of the 10th-place finish. However, if the Spurs go in another direction, it might pay dividends.

If they were to, for instance, give more minutes to younger guns on the roster and possibly rest the top guys on occasion, the Spurs might get a better draft pick. The 2022 NBA Draft class is fantastic and is fairly deep, so the Spurs could either get a big man who will work with the rest of their core, or another wing or guard to pair up with Johnson and Murray, respectively. The Spurs have several directions they can take the rest of this season, but the one they will likely take could end up costing them a lot in the long run.