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Spurs, LaMarcus Aldridge, DeMar DeRozan

3 biggest questions for the Spurs going into NBA restart

The San Antonio Spurs have been invited to participate in the resumption of the 2019-20 NBA campaign at Disney World, but their stay will almost certainly be brief.

The Spurs were dealt some some pretty grim news earlier this month, as it was announced that LaMarcus Aldridge would miss the remainder of the season after undergoing shoulder surgery in late April.

So basically, it will be DeMar DeRozan trying to lead a group of role players and youngsters.

Still, the games must be played.

Here are the three biggest questions for San Antonio as it prepares to head to Orlando:

3. Can they stop anybody?

The Spurs ranked 27th in the NBA in defensive efficiency heading into the hiatus, and it seems hard to imagine they will suddenly improve at Disney World.

No, Aldridge isn’t a great defender, but he is actually decent, possessing solid footwork and good footspeed to help defend pick-and-rolls. Now, the Spurs will have to rely on Jakob Poeltl and Trey Lyles to fill his shoes up front.

San Antonio doesn’t have many reliable defenders on its roster. As a matter of fact, most of its players fall under the category of bad defenders.

DeRozan has never been known for his defensive prowess. Patty Mills and Rudy Gay generally play one end of the floor. The less said about Marco Belinelli’s defense, the better.

Yes, the young trio of Dejounte Murray, Derrick White and Lonnie Walker is certainly an impressive defensive group, but for the most part, the Spurs are a poor defensive ballclub.

2. How will the Spurs replace LaMarcus Aldridge?

Spurs, LaMarcus Aldridge, DeMar DeRozan, Gregg Popovich

Aldridge isn’t the same player he was a couple of years back, but he remains a very reliable offensive threat who was averaging 18.9 points per game while shooting 49.3 percent from the floor and 38.9 percent from three-point range prior to surgery.

Obviously, DeRozan has been the No. 1 scorer all along, but can anyone step up and fill the role of the No. 2 guy?

It will probably have to be Gay, who was once a very good scorer before tearing his Achilles in 2017. But I’m not sure Gay has it i him to average around 20 points per game anymore (he was logging 10 points per game off the bench before the shutdown).

The best course of action for the Spurs will be to score by committee, with Gay, Mills, Bryn Forbes and the rest of the higher-end scorers on the club all increasing their production.

Whether or not those guys can actually combine to get that job done is another story entirely.

Let’s also keep in mind that none of those players will draw the type of defensive attention that Aldridge does, either.

1. Can Gregg Popovich work some magic?

Gregg Popovich is widely viewed as one of the greatest NBA coaches ever, but even this is probably too big of a mountain for him to climb.

We saw that before the coronavirus pandemic, as the Spurs were just 27-36 before the season was suspended. Tim Duncan isn’t walking through that door. Neither is Kawhi Leonard.

There is only so much a head coach can do with such limited talent. If anyone can make something out of nothing, it’s Popovich, but if he was struggling to get the team together a few months back, how will he manage now that Aldridge is out?

Anything is possible, particularly in this weird format, but I just can’t see Popovich squeezing any more juice out of this lemon.