With the 2019-20 NBA season quickly approaching, we're rolling out 30 Teams in 30 Days. Between now and opening night, we'll dedicate one day to each team in the league.
Today, we're looking at the San Antonio Spurs.
2018-19 season record
48-34 (7th in the Western Conference)
Projected 2019-20 season record
46-36 (8th in the Western Conference)
DeMarre Carroll (trade)
Keldon Johnson (draft)
Trey Lyles (free agency)
Luka Samanic (draft)
Davis Bertans (trade)
|PG||Dejounte Murray||Patty Mills|
|SG||Bryn Forbes||Derrick White||Marco Belinelli||Quinndary Weatherspoon|
|SF||DeMar DeRozan||Lonnie Walker IV||Keldon Johnson|
|PF||LaMarcus Aldridge||Rudy Gay||DeMarre Carroll||Trey Lyles|
|C||Jakob Poeltl||Chimezie Metu||Luka Samanic||Drew Eubanks|
3 key storylines
The Playoff Streak
The 1996-97 NBA season saw the Spurs finish with a record of 20-62 and fail to qualify for the postseason before winning the No. 1 overall pick in the 1997 draft, which they used to select Tim Duncan.
It was the last time San Antonio failed to qualify for the playoffs.
The 2018-19 season saw the Spurs make the postseason for a 22nd straight time, the longest current streak in North American professional sports.
Considering the constant shifts in power in the Western Conference and the changes in the Spurs franchise over the past two decades, this has been a remarkable feat to say the least. Time and time again, this team is counted out and yet it still finds ways to win games, qualify and contend to make noise in the postseason.
This upcoming season is no different, as San Antonio is projected to be a fringe playoff team. But if history has taught us any valuable lessons, it is to not count out a team led by Gregg Popovich.
Can the Spurs do it again? It will be worth following as the history that we're witnessing is something that we might not see again for a very long time.
Dejounte Murray returns
Murray was primed for a big season in 2018-19 but a torn ACL suffered in the Spurs' preseason opener put an end to his potential breakout campaign before it could even begin.
His breakout might have been set back a year but now, Murray is set to remind the NBA of why he is often viewed as being the future centrepiece for this storied franchise.
While his career averages of 6.6 points, 4.2 rebounds and 2.3 assists might not jump off the page, Murray did establish himself as a scary-good defender in his second season, earning All-Defensive Second Team honours in 2017-18 at just 21-years-old.
Now, Popovich has been quoted saying that Murray is feeling and looking confident ahead of the season and a number of Spurs have commented on how his fast play adds a new dynamic to the team. Needless to say, expectations are again for the 23-year-old to make a leap in his production this upcoming season.
As he shakes off the rust, Murray will be a major factor in the Spurs' ability to take things to the next level.
Can DeMar DeRozan return to an All-Star level
In addition to the playoff streak, the Spurs will again put another impressive streak on the line.
That 1996-97 season that was marred by an injury to David Robinson was also the last year that the Spurs did not have an All-Star selection.
Since then, six different players - David Robinson, Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker, Kawhi Leonard and, most recently, LaMarcus Aldridge - have represented the Silver & Black in the NBA All-Star Game.
This year, Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan are the most logical candidates to keep the streak alive. It would be the third straight selection for Aldridge, who is now 34-years-old, while DeRozan looks to return to an All-Star level of play after missing out on a selection for the first time in four years.
Taking a closer look at DeRozan, it makes sense to think that he can get back to that point; the 2018-19 season was one of the most efficient of his career, as he averaged 21.2 points per game to go along with career-highs in both assists (6.2) and rebounding (6.0).
With a year of playing in this system under his belt and Dejounte Murray by his side, DeRozan should continue to produce at a high level while doing his part to keep the Spurs in the Western Conference playoff picture. That could be enough to earn a selection to represent his team in Chicago come February.
5 games to watch
Nov. 4 vs. Los Angeles Lakers
Three of the four meetings between the Spurs and Lakers in the 2018-19 season came down to the final minutes, including a thrilling early-season overtime win for the Spurs.
This season, LeBron James and the new-look Lakers make their first of two trips to San Antonio early on in the season and an entertaining game is sure to follow.
Nov. 30 vs. LA Clippers
In late November, Kawhi Leonard will make his second trip to San Antonio since being traded in the 2018 offseason; this time, he'll be with the LA Clippers.
As a member of the Toronto Raptors in 2018-19, Leonard met a raucous home crowd in San Antonio and this time should be no different. Expect an electric atmosphere at the AT&T Center for this one.
Dec. 15 at Phoenix Suns (in Mexico City)
The Spurs and Suns will take part in the second of two regular-season games played in Mexico City as part of the 2019 NBA Mexico City Games.
Phoenix's young duo of Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton will get their shot at San Antonio's established duo of DeRozan and Aldridge while the Suns' newly-hired head coach Monty Williams faces one of his mentors in Popovich.
Jan. 13 at Toronto Raptors
It's San Antonio's lone visit north of the border, where DeRozan made himself a home for nine seasons.
The Raptors loyal fanbase will always show a special appreciation for DeRozan, which should make for a great road environment and fun game.
Feb. 11 at Denver Nuggets
Right before the All-Star break, San Antonio travels to face Denver for the first time since losing Game 7 of the opening round of the 2019 postseason. Playoff rematches rarely disappoint, and this one should be no different.
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