With just a few days until the start of the 2018/19 NBA season, the San Antonio Spurs don’t have a point guard. Well, they have Patty Mills, but that was never the plan. In fact, it might have been plan-Z for Gregg Popovich and his staff.
Here’s a quick timeline of the last week for the Spurs:
Oct. 6 - Lonnie Walker IV, the 18th overall pick in this past draft, underwent an MRI that showed a torn meniscus in his right knee. He would undergo surgery four days later. Walker, while primarily a two-guard, was likely to see some playing time as the primary ball handler for the Spurs. Unfortunate, but not devastating, as he is expected to be back in 6-8 weeks.
Oct. 8 - Just two days after the news about Walker, starting point guard Dejounte Murray is revealed to have torn his ACL in his right knee. The injury was a non-contact one; an immediate red flag that something serious had happened. Given his age and potential, as well as the Spurs meticulous training staff, it is very likely that Murray will be out for the entire season. This one is especially crushing for Spurs fans, as this was supposed to be Murray’s coming out a year.
Last year, Murray became the youngest player in history to be named to an All-Defense team and was showing improvements in his offensive game in the preseason. With Walker and Murray out, the starting job was handed to Derrick White, (who in hindsight should’ve been immediately bubble-wrapped) the 29th overall pick in the 2017 draft, who seemed like he would have his first chance to play meaningful minutes.
Oct. 10 - Another two days pass, another serious injury. Just four days after Walker’s injury, and two after Murray’s, Derrick White goes down with a heel injury - a tear in his left plantar fascia to be exact - and is likely to miss 6-8 weeks as well.
Not a great week for the Spurs, as they managed to lose three point guards due to serious injuries in a five-day span, including the most severe injury to their most valued point guard. Third-year guard Bryn Forbes is a possibility to start, even though his true position is at shooting guard. Forbes is an above average three-point shooter (39% from deep last season), and while undersized for the two at 6’3, he has a good-sized body for a point guard.
Patty Mills, who made 36 starts last year while Tony Parker recovered from his quad injury, is another option. Mills is best off the bench, as sort of a 6th to 8th man, who can provide a spark in limited minutes. DeMar DeRozan will almost certainly see extended minutes as the primary ball handler, and while it’s not ideal, having a four-time All-Star bring up the ball isn’t the worst thing in the world.
To summarize, San Antonio Spurs have four options right now:
1. Brian Forbes starter, DeMar DeRozan extended minutes as the primary ball handler.
2. Patty Mills starter, DeMar DeRozan extended minutes as the primary ball handler.
3. DeMar DeRozan (PG), Marco Belinelli (SG), Rudy Gay (SF), LaMarcus Aldridge (PF), Pau Gasol (C)
4. Sign a point guard: Mario Chalmers, Jameer Nelson, Ramon Sessions, etc...
If anyone can find a diamond in the rough, or squeeze the best possible basketball juice out of a player, it’s Popovich, R.C. Buford, and the Spurs organization. While making the playoffs bodes a bigger challenge than ever, I’m sure it wouldn’t come as a shock to anyone to see the Spurs sneak into the bracket come April. Here’s hoping their young guys come back better than ever.
Also, don't forget that the Spurs can still sign a free agent and they have the 5 options for the point guard position.