Spurs’ depth chart breakdown: Keldon Johnson is the centerpiece of a deep forward corps

Further locations for locating spurs have been difficult in recent years. Having mostly left out the two big male units, San Antonio is trying to find the right pair that can provide the advantage of the smaller lineup while not leaving a huge lead on the boards and defense. It has been a difficult balance to strike.

This upcoming season could be the one in which the Spurs finally find something that works. Over the past few months, the franchise has acquired a number of players, which should allow them to play different styles and give Silver and Black a versatile and intriguing forward core. Let’s see it.

depth chart

SF: Keldon Johnson – Josh Richardson – Romeo Langford – (Joe Wiskamp)

PF: Doug McDermott – Jeremy Sochan – Isaiah Robbie – (Kita Bates-Diop)

At this point, it’s safe to assume that Doug McDermott will start as he only lost his spot last season due to injury, and Jeremy Sochan may need time to adjust to an NBA game. Who’s really short forward and who’s forward power doesn’t really matter when he’s sharing the court with Keldon Johnson, who will certainly be one of the starting forward spots, as the experienced sniper is often the least. Hiding on Defense – Dangerous matchups.

Once the bench players check in, the difference between the two positions should become more apparent. If Richardson or Langford are in, they will be in the wing and the Spurs will drop some shape. On the other hand, Sochan and Robbie should be considered as the traditional power forwards who will help in building a bigger lineup. Greg Popovich can use many possible configurations, so expect him to be experimental often.

For now, we’ll mostly ignore Impact, who is still a banned free agent, and Keita Bates-Diep, who is on a non-guaranteed contract until the season starts, may be in rotation.

Weaknesses: Rebound and defensive versatility

The two biggest problems the Johnson-McDermott pair faced last season were rebounding and defensive versatility. Despite being 6’8″, McDermott rebounds like a guard and can’t really defend most of the forward. Johnson is better in both areas, but not exceptional in either. The bench does not even provide any good solution. Josh Richardson is a tough defender, but he is not tall enough to handle the forward power. The same applies to Langford, and they both rebound like guards. Isaiah Roby and Keita Bates-Diop are passive rebounders and have solid maneuverability that allows them to handle switches relatively well, but they’re not going to change the team’s roof on the defensive end. Most configurations that include the above two players will range from bad to average on their own end.

The responsibility of resolving potential issues on both the board and the defense may really fall on 19-year-old Jeremy Sochan, which is both exciting and scary. Sochan was a good rebounder in college and he has the size, length and athleticism to stay good at the next level. His defensive versatility is the main reason why he was selected in the lottery and made him special at the pro level. His lack of range will probably make it difficult for him to share the floor with Jacob Poelt for a long time – although Spurs should definitely try – but he could be out there every minute Poelt rests as Zach Both Collins and Gorgui Dieng can shoot. , Will a rookie have enough influence to turn an obvious weakness into a strength? Maybe not immediately, but hopefully that helps.

Strengths: Shooting and Supplemental Offensive Skills

While everyone except Sochan can be considered an average rebounder and defender, the rookie is the only suspect shooter of the bunch. Johnson’s giant leap as a marksman is well documented. McDermott is an expert who can connect with his sets of feet or on the go. Richardson probably isn’t going to average 44 percent from outside as a Spur again, but he should at least be a league-average volume shooter. Robbie and Langford aren’t perfect shooters but they’ve improved in recent years and aren’t afraid to let it fly. Last season, that crew shot 41 percent of Beyond the Arc on 1,000-plus attempts combined. The forward group may not have a ton of shot construction, but will likely have good spacing in most configurations.

It’s great to have shooters, but playing too many specialists can limit a team’s offensive range. Fortunately, the group includes not only two elite finishers at potential starts, but also plenty of players who can do more than one thing and provide the kind of combinatorial skills that non-specialized options need to offense. Is. Richardson and Langford are good enough ball handlers to run a few picks and rolls when needed or attack catches to keep the defense on rotation. Robbie is comfortable acting as a screener and can be both a pick-and-roll or a pick-and-pop option. Sochan does most things that do not involve scoring at a high level. Even Johnson and McDermott can do more than just shoot. The forward has a lot of complementary skills that should keep the offense flowing.

Outlook

The Spurs have the staff to find success with the type of short pairing featuring Johnson and a second perimeter player. Richardson and McDermott are reliable veterans who know their role. Langford and potentially Wiskamp, ​​if he returns, are young, but have a few NBA seasons under their belts. When teams play two smaller defenders side by side, add Devin Wassell to the mix, and that’s a lot of versatility for one-large units.

The most interesting dynamic will be to see how the coaching staff incorporates the big forwards into the mix. Last season the only force on the roster was Bates-Diep, but now there are two others who could fill the role, Robbie and Sochan. If Popovich can successfully use Johnson next to a bigger player at least for the time being who can help with rebounding and help with defense, Spurs will have the lineup flexibility they’ve lacked in recent years .

With so much uncertainty over the guard spot, it would be tempting to play the familiar smaller units ahead, but the years of rebuilding have to be about experimentation. Throwing Robbie, and especially Sochan, into the mix next to Johnson as often as possible can pay off in a way that’s worth any growing pains.

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