Fantasy Review For 2018/19 Season:
The big mainstream story for the Spurs was Kawhi’s departure and an arrival of DeMare DeRozan and Jakob Poeltl. Leonard wasn’t the only guy missing there, as San Antonio started the season also without Dejounte Murray (torn ACL) and Derrick White (minor injury that sidelined him for quite some time). Even with those adversities, they’ve managed to get into the playoffs, thanks to fantastic play by Rudy Gay and LaMarcus Aldridge and wizardry performed on coaching bench by Greg Popovich.
The other, less known story is a fact that they have managed to create sixth offense in the league, while being dead last in three pointers attempted per game – 25.3 with league average of 32. It has some obviously important consequences for fantasy owners, such as low 3PT and high FG contributions from their players as a group. If you are curious – during preseason they were also last, so it appears that the same will happen again during a regular season.
Changes in the offseason
Lost = Davis Bertans
Added = DeMarre Carroll, Trey Lyles
Projected Depth Chart:
Positional Battles: Guards
Spurs have one major problem: Their two key guys for their future both are ballhandling guards and both cant shoot threepointers on a regular basis. Their two best veteran players also dont shoot, as well as most of their playing roster. If the Spurs would like to start now all of their best players at once, five containing Murray, White, DDR, LMA and Poeltl would be one of the worst fives in the NBA, not because lack of spacing but virtually no spacing at all. They would play the 80’s game in the different era of basketball. Therefore they have to bench one of their young guns, and judging on preseason it is going to be White. In his place Pop will play basically his best shooter and thats who Forbes is – he is a walking sniper gun, a player that brings only threes to the table… and as would Pop say – that’s exactly what doctor ordered. For the same reason, there will be some rotation minutes for at least one of Patty Mills/Marco Belinelli duo, even though both of them probably wouldn’t make it based on pure overall talent.
Fantasy Relevant in leagues with 12- to 15-teams:
“LaMarcus’ fall in fantasy rankings for season 20XY/20YX is one of the most predictable ones in the entire league.” – We can hear that sentence each year for the last 5 years. And than he proves yet again to be one of the 30 best players in fantasy basketball… No. Matter. What.
He would probably have to give up some shots and minutes to young guns, he might give up some rebounds and defensive duties to Jakob Poelt… and he may finally drop in the rankings as expected… But keep in mind Aldridge won’t fall off the cliff completely, quite the opposite, he’s a versatile player so even despite those losses he should be #1 ranked Spurs player in 9-cat Roto, as a sure top40 guy, with an upside in top30 and downside in top50.
He is a very good example of how Popovich magic works. His coach seeing that shooting threes isn’t a natural thing for DDR, instead of pushing him to train this harder… just told him to abandon it at all. Also Pop moved him up a position to provide him more occasions on which he would feast on a bigger and slower guys… and gave him a lot of ballhandling and passing duties in which DeMar thrived. As a result we saw a total dropoff in DeRozan’s threes, but also he raised his rebounds, assists, and block, while maintaining steal level and drastically improving his FG%, by 2,5% – 48% was easily his career high and first time in DDR’s career when he was a positive FG contributor. This year we have to expect same distribution of the production, but little bit less of everything – less ballhandling duties (Dejounte Murray will take them over), lower rebounds (playing more with bigger guys), less shots (more players to feed)… Unfortunately, all this little changes along with lower minutes would probably mean him falling heavily in fantasy ranks, at least to top70-80, but in worse case scenario, out of top100.
Gay story of recovery from ruptured Achilles tendon is the one that gives hope to Kevin Durant. He not only managed to recover to almost full athletic ability (maybe he just lost a little bit of explosiveness), but also he finally found a way to reshape his game from wannabe-neverbe star to an elite role player and a glue guy for the Spurs, the role, you would never expect him to master. Spurs basically did to him same thing they did to DDR: convinced him to eliminate most inefficient shots from his game, moved him up a position and asked him to make an extra pass instead an extra shot. In the outcome Gay beat his career high in FG% by more than 3% (!!!), settled new career high in rebounds and raised assists to the level only achievable for him in the times of 27%+ usage rate. It was all clicking in the first part od 2018/19 season and brought him all the way up to top50, as he was arguably one of the two most important players on Spurs roster. Second part of the season was a bit harder with few minor injuries, but he still finished as top100 player. This season should be alike, maybe with less minutes that will translate to a bit smaller statistical contributions. Either way, he is still a very good, value pick outside top100.
He went through a bumpy road last season, learning mostly a proper mindset to be a Spur. Many of those lessons ended up with him not getting up from the bench. However, when he finally started playing on regular basis after the All Star Weekend, he carved out a nice role, playing 20mpg and averaging 6 points on 67% shooting, 6.8 rebounds 0.7 steals and 1.5 blocks, what was enough for top120 rank for the last two months of the season. This year, he should start right off the bat, with a little bit more than those 20 min (he is the only center on that roster) – it may lead him even up to top100, maybe higher.
Its the second offseason in the row when usually cautious about their players Spurs are actually extremely vocal about how good Murray become. We have seen a glimpse of that with him making jumpers in preseason on a regular basis. Although he is still not a natural shooter, he at least can now make threes when left wide open. That skill only elevates himself to higher levels than ever before. He is fantastic rebounder for a guard, he will give you a ton of steals, some out of position blocks and he has a nice assits potential. The concern here are threes, points and percentages, but if you belive Spurs, the concern should not be so big. He should be available around that top100 mark, but his ceiling is in that top50 range, with a floor at the end of top150. It all hangs on his shooting, thats all.
He wasnt exactly amazing in Murray’s absence, but he shown some exciting flashes of potential. What should really excite you, are strong precentages, good as/to ratio, plus great for a guard defensive stats: 1 stl + 0.7 blk. What should worry you is a lack of threes and points (however you must remeber him exploding for 30 in playoffs) but the worst for now is a fact that Spurs stagger him and Murray, what limits potential of both. Personally I hope that this won’t last in regular season and is just kind of a rest given to White after busy offseason. In the end, I’m bullish on him, projecting him to finish the season in top75 roto. Why? Because Pop preferred him in a USA Team over some young NBA stars, such as DeAaron Fox or Trae Young. If Pop loves you, you are good. Thats the rule.
Could be useful with trades/injuries [or in deeper leagues than 15 teams]:
Bryn Forbes, Marco Belinelli, DeMarre Carroll, Trey Lyles
Just don’t bother with:
Lonnie Walker, Chimezie Metu, Patty Mills
Don’t forget to check the rest of the San Antonio Spurs fantasy basketball projections.