Old School Spurs Thriving in Modern NBA


During the Spurs’ championship run, the team had two key staples; play solid defense and play team offensive basketball. The team implements good ball movement leading to open shots and layups. This only works because the Spurs draft guys that fit this team-oriented mentality. Gregg Popovich says that he likes to draft and pick up guys that are “over themselves”. The so-called “Spurs way” is currently being challenged, however, in an era of super teams and an unprecedented three-point shooting barrage.

Uncertain Beginning

Before the season, the question was whether the “Spurs way” could continue to succeed despite losing superstar Kawhi Leonard and veteran Tony Parker. While teams like the Rockets or Warriors are shooting three’s at a ridiculous level, San Antonio has opted to shoot the three at a more efficient level– a league-best 40%. Despite this, the beginning of the season looked like the start of a rebuild, as they went just 11-14 in the first 25 contests.

Since December, the Spurs have turned their season around. What contributed to the Spurs’ resurgence? San Antonio’s “Big 3” of DeMar DeRozanLaMarcus Aldridge and Rudy Gay have succeeded in creating their own offense while creating for others if their shots aren’t falling.

The Bench

A key to the revival has been the increased contributions from the bench and young core. Back court reserves like Bryn Forbes and Derrick White have been impressive. They are playing solid on the defensive end and are scoring at an efficient rate. Davis Bertans is shooting a league-best 48.6% from three. While Jakob Poeltl is proving to be more than just “the other guy” from the Kawhi-DeRozan trade. Rounding out the bench, Patty Mills is providing his usual energy and spark, while Marco Belinelli continues to hit threes at an elite level.

The System

The Spurs are determined to play their style of basketball. Popovich, a known critic of the NBA trend of shooting an unprecedented amount of threes, is sticking to his guns. He believes the NBA is ruining “the beauty” of the game by focusing too much on the three ball. His team is instead opting for mid-range pull up jumpers and shooting the three with less frequency but more efficiency. They currently lead the league in team percentage of shots from two point range and percentage of points from mid-range.


Can this team-oriented, old school style of play continue to survive in the highly contested west? Time will tell.

About Gabriel Esparza

Born in El Paso, Texas. Life long, devout Spurs fan. Currently living in central New York, attending Syracuse University in the Masters of Education Program in Social Studies

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