Once the Spurs were officially out of the playoffs, the fan base was probably looking for familiar faces to root for. Unfortunately this postseason has not been kind to a lot of former players with ties to the franchise.
The teams that have already been eliminated from the first round have some names that the Spurs’ fateful will recognize. Let’s start with the big ones.
DeMar DeRozan simply couldn’t make the Bulls competitive against the reigning champions, the Milwaukee Bucks. Chicago, missing Lonzo Ball, avoided the sweep but were outscored by a total of 73 points over five games. Worse yet, DeRozan shot 41 percent from the field for the series and missed all nine of his three-point attempts. The Bulls were a flawed, shorthanded team, so DeMar shouldn’t be scrutinized too heavily for not being able to carry them past Milwaukee, but another early playoffs exit will give his critics more ammunition.
While DeRozan could at least go down swinging, the other star the Spurs had in recent years didn’t get that privilege. LaMarcus Aldridge didn’t suit up for the Nets in any of the four games they got to play, which signals he has entered a stage in his career in which he’ll likely not be a big part of any team’s postseason rotation. Patty Mills had good series, going from individual numbers, but he can’t be happy with exiting so early after going to Brooklyn to contend. The same goes for Rudy Gay, who didn’t even play for the Jazz after being their big offseason signing.
The guys who were moved this year haven’t fared much better. Bryn Forbes, who was traded mid-season to a Nuggets team looking to make a deep run, hit some threes but didn’t have a standout series with a squad in desperate need of guard depth. Thaddeus Young had a big moment by crossing over Joel Embiid and generally helped the Raptors, but only averaged 14.5 minutes a game for a team that bowed out in six games. Guys that have only played a few games with the Silver and Black either this season or in other recent ones, like JaMychal Green, Goran Dragic, Juancho Hernangomez and Gorgui Dieng, are also out.
There are a few former Spurs still alive, but they haven’t exactly shined. Kyle Anderson’s Grizzlies could get past the Timberwolves with a win on Friday but Slowmo is averaging just five points and five rebounds on over 20 minutes a night. Derrick White also had modest numbers in the Celtics’ sweep of the Nets, averaging five points on dreadful shooting splits while also contributing four rebounds and two assists a game. Davis Bertans is not getting a lot of playing time for the Mavericks or boasting good stats. Danny Green and Dewayne Dedmon have given the 76ers and Heat minutes, respectively, but have not been special. All could prove more valuable for their teams in the next round.
At the executive and coaching levels, it’s more of a mixed bag, as some front offices and coaching staffs led by or featuring former Spurs have done well, like Ime Udoka’s Celtics and Mike Budenholzer’s Bucks, while others have faltered.
Does the relative struggles of people that were once tied to the franchise reflect poorly on the Spurs themselves? Not really. It’s hard to succeed at the NBA level, and even some of the best players that have given the Silver and Black simply need to be in good circumstances to get far in the playoffs.
There are still some familiar faces around to keep an eye on, which should give Spurs fans a rooting interest in the offseason, as they wait for a summer of moves that will hopefully vault the team back to the playoffs. And there’s always a chance the fateful are watching some future Spurs shine, so that’s also something to keep in mind as the postseason progresses.
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