We are 10 games into the regular season and while our young Spurs have shown flashes of good play, they have struggled in many late game situations en route to a 3-7 record, which pits them near the bottom of the Western Conference. Welcome to this week’s Spurs newsletter.
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The Spurs have lost to the Dallas Mavericks twice by a combined six points, once to the LA Lakers in overtime and then fell apart in the third quarter in a loss to Oklahoma City.
Coach Gregg Popovich did not mince words during Tuesday’s practice. He said the team defense has slipped during this recent stretch. He also was not happy with the way the Spurs competed in the loss to the Thunder. Click here to check out what Pop had to say.
And it doesn’t help that defensive anchor Jakob Poeltl is not expected to return by the end of the week, according to Popovich. This will be Poeltl’s fourth straight missed game as he remains in the league’s health and safety protocols. Let’s break down some other things to watch as the Spurs look to get back on track this week.
What’s up with Derrick White?
Going into this season, I felt White was the most important -- not necessarily the best -- player for the Spurs to be successful this season. Well, Derrick has been disappointing. White is averaging 12.3 points per game, down from 15.4 last season, and his shooting numbers have been rough: 39 percent overall, 32 percent from 3-point range and 76 percent from the free throw line. These are all career low numbers for White, but he has increased his assists per game at 5.6.
“Derrick’s having a tough time right now in a lot of ways and we need him to be a good player every night,” Popovich said after the Thunder loss.
White is still one of the best defenders in the league at the guard position so that hasn’t been an issue, but the Spurs need his scoring and his confidence to improve. I pegged White as a potential 18 to 20 point per game scorer this season. There’s still time to turn it around and I’m a believer in White’s abilities.
Dejounte possibly in ‘rarified air’
Now to the best Spurs player so far this season: That award goes to Dejounte Murray. DJ has been really good on offense this season and stellar on defense. Murray is averaging nearly 18 points, 8.1 rebounds, 8.3 rebounds and 2.2 steals per game this year.
In their latest power rankings, ESPN writer Andrew Lopez noted that if Murray kept these averages, “those statistics would put him in rarefied air. Only two other players have hit that mark since steals became an official NBA stat in 1973-74: Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson.”
Murray, like the rest of these young Spurs, still has to learn how to close out games. He’s taken a closer approach, but it’s not translated to wins. Still, DJ has stuck to his word that he would take up the leadership mantle for this team.
Spurs need some home cooking
The schedule has been brutal and it will not ease up by any means. According to Tankathon.com, the Spurs still have the fourth toughest schedule in the league.
But San Antonio has six of their next nine games at the AT&T Center. That will take them to the end of November before another tough trip to the West Coast. Hopefully San Antonio can take care of business at home and get back to at least the .500 mark, or this season will get away from them quickly.
New Fiesta-themed jerseys! That’s something to be excited about!
They may not be winning, but at least the Spurs are going to look good on the court. For the first time this season, San Antonio is breaking out their new Fiesta-themed NBA City Edition jerseys that pay homage to their past.
The Spurs will don the white jersey, complemented by classic Spurs Fiesta colors, on Friday at home against Dallas. The retro look is partially inspired by the NBA 75th anniversary season.
The uniform is detailed with bits of the team’s past, chronicling the franchise’s genesis from the Dallas Chaparrals in the American Basketball Association to the San Antonio Spurs.
The shorts also feature a diamond design reminiscent of the team’s uniform in the late 70s and early 80s.
Back by popular demand! It’s been a while since we checked in with the most interesting Spurs player in the world, but where in the world is Manu Ginobili?
Manu has been featured in NBA commercials for the league’s 75th anniversary and now helps the Spurs front office, but he recently made an appearance at Eisenhower Park to officially open the Salado and Leon Creeks greenway connection.
Manu just rolled up to the spot like the champion he is as his cycling adventures throughout the Hill Country continue. Just name the trail after this guy! MANU. FOREVER.