Don’t you just love sports? One week, you are full of optimism, and the next, you are in the lowest of spirits. This preseason is one to forget Spurs fans.
We’ve got a lot of very bad news, and I’m not referring to Bad News Barrett. While there still a lot of hope in our young core, two big pieces and players we all looked forward to seeing, are out for the near future. With Dejounte Murray tearing his ACL, and Lonnie Walker out for at least two months, the Spurs are back in a hole that seems to be similar to what we were in last year, except I think we are in somewhat of a better spot.
I know coming from last year, the Spurs are all very low on patience right now. The San Antonio Spurs have spoiled us, multiple winning seasons, multiple championships, winning is all we have known for the past 20+ years. Last year, one of these potential biggest black marks to ever be on this organization happened with the entire Kawhi Leonard drama, multiple injuries and continuous scoffing at our medical team. It seems to be that we will hit that wall once again, except this time, I believe the Spurs have much more to look forward to and less to worry about.
Going into the draft, there was a concern about Lonnie Walker’s ability to stay healthy due to his very Athletic and explosive play style, along with the fact that he has had a torn meniscus before. While a torn meniscus isn’t career altering by any means, it is still something that cannot be taken lightly. Coming into the season the Spurs have had very high hopes for him, but we have to remain patient and put the results on hold for a little while.
I like to think of this experience for Lonnie Walker as a rookie, sort of as a redshirt season for him. Now, I’m not saying his year is over by any means, but at the same time with around two months off, it’ll take him around another two months to get in basketball shape and catch somewhat of a vibe on how the game flows in the NBA. Routinely, many Spurs players we have drafted within the last 20 years have tended to go at the same pace. The hype train has to put on hold for a minute, but don’t worry, it’ll be fully rolling here within the next 3-6 months.
No, not Dejounte Murray. You have got to be kidding me!
Trust me Spurs fans, I had the same exact reaction. He’s been playing so well, working so hard to consistently crack open that ice cold J. Every single minute, of every single day. We’ve seen all the work he’s put in, it’s like he’s grown up before our very eyes. People who don’t pay attention the Spurs may not know about Dejounte Murray, but if you know game, you recognize game.
The future is very bright for our young point guard. This is a minor setback that will lead to a ferocious comeback. If you are worried about how this will affect him, it may take a little while for him to gain all the strength back, but I know he will come back stronger. He will be back to claim what is rightfully his, not only a top-five defensive point guard, but I think as a passer and more of a floor general on both ends, he has the brightest future of any Spurs player. He’s taken efforts this past off-season in developing his offensive game, and I promise you, when it gets going, he will be a problem.
Well, what do the Spurs do now?
Coach Pop has came out and said that Derrick White will become the starting point guard for this team. I like that. He played very well his last year at Colorado as a four-year college player, as well as in the G-League. He shined in the summer league, although you don’t put much into that, it is definitely something you want to build on and momentum you can take with you throughout the year. As his jump shot and three-point shot continues to progress, I am more impressed to see the effort and effectiveness on the glass as a 6-4 Point guard, and he has a pretty solid awareness of the guys around him.
He is very young and somewhat inexperienced as well. Although, he played 24 games in the G-League and showed out. After averaging 20-5-3 on 45%, Austin coach Will Hardy said “He can play in so many different situations. He can play alongside a shooter, but also with a guy like Dejounte Murray, who’s a true point guard,” But there is room for optimism, Coach Pop could’ve gone with the savvy veteran Patty Mills. Although he brings a good spark off the bench, and I feel like his role as best there, he has once again thrown a young point guard that he has faith in, somewhat into the fire.
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That’s not necessarily a bad thing though, in the Spurs system, it is meant for everybody to succeed and for basketball to be played at its highest form with great ball movement, and exceptional defense. I feel like Derrick White can definitely add to that. I’m not saying he’s going to fit better than Dejounte, or even remind you of a young Tony Parker, but the optimism and faith in him should be at a solid level. Don’t expect him to drop 25-9-6 on 55% shooting, but expect more of a 13-6-4 on 47% shooting.
How will the Spurs’ season look?
While the two injuries to hurt the Spurs, I still feel like there is room for optimism. They’re going to be games where the Spurs severely miss Murray, and early in the season, I feel like the athletic edge that Lonnie Walker brings will be missed, although he’s never played a regular-season minute, I feel like he has things to the Spurs squad that can be more than beneficial. I look towards the veterans on this team like DeMar DeRozan, LaMarcus Aldridge, and Rudy Gay. DeMar DeRozan is a very underrated passer, will get more shine in this department for sure. I feel like LaMarcus Aldridge, who is another pretty good passer, will also get a lot more shine in this department.
Another player to look for is Bryn Forbes. Offensively he can get hot very quick. You know the young guard is trying to make his mark deep here in San Antonio. While he won’t play deep minutes, there will be nights we appreciate his game to help snag a win.
I think the Spurs team will be built primarily even more so than ever, around its defense. If we hold teams to under 100 points, we will be winning a lot of basketball games. With that being said though, I think offensively this unit will be extremely efficient. I’m not saying this team won’t be bothered by the two big losses, but at the same time pump the brakes a little bit. We are in a much better situation this year than we were last year. Like I’ve said before, although we are very young and inexperienced, I believe in the system, and I know because I’ve seen firsthand, how great players can become in our system.
In closing, my final thoughts are this
I think something the Spurs will have to look forward to with Derrick White is seeing how he implements himself into this offense. They have three players (DeMar, LaMarcus, Rudy) in the starting five who really excel at having the ball in their hand; it’ll be interesting to see White adjusts his game to that. What Dejounte Murray does, I cannot explain to you and emphasize so much on how good defensively Murray is, but also, as his court vision and passing ability improves, he very well can be a floor general, I love it.
It’s so hard to elaborate on the loss of Lonnie Walker due to the fact that he’s never played a regular season NBA minute. But we all know, it’s like going to Texas Roadhouse because you are excited about those rolls and cinnamon butter, you just want more and more and more, and then, unfortunately, your damn food comes. And that’s like for us, we want more Lonnie Walker, we want to see him play so badly, but it’s put on hold. A wise man once said, trust the process.