2023-2024 NBA Season Preview: San Antonio Spurs
The San Antonio Spurs just pulled off the tank of the decade. France star Victor Wembanyama was the grand prize of the 2023 NBA draft. All for the 2022-2023 NBA season, there was the “Wemby sweepstakes.” The bad teams were tanking to increase their chances of winning the NBA lottery until the Spurs eventually won it. Now, the Spurs have the alien in Victor Wembanyama and Spurs fans couldn’t be happier. What does that mean for them though? To continue our series, here is the San Antonio Spurs NBA preview for the 2023-2024 NBA season.
Last Year Recap
As mentioned, the Spurs were not a good team, for good reason. It was mostly a developmental/tanking year for San Antonio, who had a great foundation for a young core to build up on that they were developing while simultaneously tanking for Wemby.
They finished the season 2nd to last place with a 22-60 record. The three last-place teams in the league had a 14 percent chance for the NBA lottery to win the No. 1 pick in the draft. They secured that while getting in some serious game experience for their young guys like Devin Vassell, Tre Jones, Keldon Johnson and Jeremy Sochan.
I don’t know if you’ve heard, but the San Antonio Spurs won the draft lottery and drafted Victor Wembanyama. I may have mentioned it a few times in this post but just in case you missed it. That was the highlight of the Spurs’ offseason. They know they are not a contending team yet until the young core is ready for that type of competition.
So, other than landing Wemby, they mostly re-signed key guys like Tre Jones, Devin Vassell and Julian Champagnie for their roster. They acquired Cedi Osman via trade from the Cavaliers, who could be a key part of their rotation this year. Other than that, it was a quiet off-season for the Spurs.
Projected Starting 5?
PG: Jeremy Sochan – Jeremy Sochan provides a lot of versatility in this lineup for the Spurs, At 6-foot-8, he provides a nightmare matchup for opposing PGs on offense and defense. While Sochan may not be able to score outside efficiently, he will be able to bully other PGs on offense by getting to the rack and dishing it out if need be. On defense, his size, strength and agility against other PGs will royally suck for other teams. I would have gone with Tre Jones for more of an offensive advantage and put Sochan as a wing, but there is not a bad decision with this lineup.
SG: Devin Vassell – The Sharpshooter for the team. But, that’s not all he can do. He can score at all three levels for this team. He will be the most efficient scorer on this team. He has just signed an extension in the offseason and he should be scoring more than 20 points per game in 2023-24 for the San Antonio Spurs. He’s a decent defender as well, but not as good as some of the others on this team.
SF: Keldon Johnson: KJ was the leading scorer for the Spurs last year, averaging 22 points per contest. While he will have competition for that title with Devin Vassell and Victor Wembanyama, he will still score quite a bit this year and do his part for the Spurs’ offense. Most of the criticism for Keldon Johnson was his effort on the defensive end. He will have to improve, but there’s enough defense on this team to cover for him.
PF: Victor Wembanyama – The Man, the Myth, the Legend. The France star finally is on the team that he hoped to be on the entire time: The San Antonio Spurs. This guy is a unicorn, an alien, a freak of nature. For how tall and lanky he is, he moves so well and just flat-out doesn’t make sense. He has plenty of tools to succeed in the NBA, but he does have some things he could improve on, of course.
He needs more size to him, preferably muscle mass. Much like how Giannis Antetokounmpo had to put on muscle. He could also be better at scoring from long-range, but at this point, I am just nit-picking. Those two things would put his game to another level that is already high. He covers so much space with his height and length that he will be a presence on offense and defense for the Spurs. As mentioned, probably could be the Spurs’ leading scorer.
C: Zach Collins – I’ve always liked Zach Collins despite the small sample size that I saw with the Blazers. The good thing is the Spurs are not asking a lot from Zach Collins. He will be the enforcer on this team. There will be teams that will try to bully and fight Wemby because of his lack of weight. Zach Collins will act as his bodyguard on the court and make sure no one messes with the rookie.
He might get in double figures and add some from the defensive end and on the boards. But most of the scoring, defense and rebounding won’t need to come from him. He is in a supplemental role in that aspect, but he will be needed to defend Wemby at all costs.
Other Rotational Players:
PG: Tre Jones – I thought he was going to be the starting PG with Sochan at the 3 and Keldon coming off the bench, but Tre Jones will do well off the bench. I don’t think this means that Tre Jones won’t ever start either, I think the Spurs might experiment with different lineups starting and certain players coming off the bench. As mentioned, a lot of this year is developmental and experimental. Tre Jones will be a big part of the Spurs this year, he could very well average 15 points and seven assists, and that might be the worst-case scenario.
F: Cedi Osman – I love Cedi Osman, I feel like he’s a very underrated pickup. He’s one of those rotational guys that you believe in. He’s a utility knife that can do anything you ask of as a role player. He will get quite a bit of minutes and do anything you ask.
G/F: Malaki Branham – One of those guys that made an impression last season and during the summer league this year. Can take it to the rack, he’s a better defensive player than an offensive, but will have his days when the ball is going to go in the hoop for him. Another solid piece for their rotation.
F: Julian Champagnie – One of the better scorers for the Spurs during the Summer League. He is going to have a great opportunity to be a solid scorer for the Spurs off the bench. He will provide a great change of pace and make sure there is efficient scoring off the bench. He shoots the 3 ball well with a 40 percent clip and shoots 45 percent from the field. He won’t be used to rebound, despite his size at 6-foot-8, or he won’t be expected to pass too much, he’s going to score.
C: Sandro Mamukelashvili – WHO?! Exactly, Mamu started making his mark at the end of the season last year. I could have put Charles Bassey here, who may play a role in the Spurs rotation as well. But, I do believe Mamu will make an impression and get a lot of the backup Center minutes by the end of the season. He is a great passing big man, who will rebound and score at the rim. Perfect for a backup center. Bassey will be in the rotation, but Mamu should be the go-to backup center preferably.
X-Factor? Devin Vassell
It would have been too easy to put Victor Wembanyama here. I think the real X-Factor here is Devin Vassell. Having only played 38 games last season, he is fully healthy with a huge contract extension to his name. He should be the No. 1 or 2 scoring option for this team with his ability to score on all three levels. Keldon Johnson was the de facto No. 1 scoring option, but with now Wemby and Vassell to form their scoring Big 3, Vassell has a chance to make a name for himself and earn his contract. This team goes as far with Vassell leading the way on the scoring aspect.
The Spurs are still not a good team yet, but how can you not love what they’re doing with their young core? Victor Wembanyama being in San Antonio makes it all that much sweeter. This team is at least 10 wins better than it was a year ago. I have them in that range. I would bet the mortgage that they get over 30 wins this season easily, but I would be weary to bet over 35 wins.
I think they may get over 35, but 32 or 33 wins is about where I have them at. It’s more about the development of these young players. They’ll get plenty of game experience and are hoping to become a force in a few years. San Antonio Spurs basketball will be so much fun to watch if you can this season.