Texto, em inglês, escrito originalmente para uma aplicação do Air Alamo.

Although we can all agree the 8-game Disney World bubble run was exciting, it’s crystal clear that the 2019-20 NBA season as a whole was the biggest failure in the last two decades of Spurs basketball.

Still, missing the Playoffs while finishing with a 32-39 record for the first time in decades isn’t all that went bad for San Antonio, since for the past two seasons we’ve been seeing the team get constantly outperformed and even sometimes outcoached for probably more times than in all the previous 20 seasons combined.

A big part of it is due to the absence of a big-time star, such as Duncan, Parker, Ginobili, or even Kawhi. Playing at such a slow pace compared to the rest of the league, just as we had been doing before the Disney bubble, is also an important factor. However, I’d say the main reason for the Spurs’ recent failures has been the team’s inability to play solid defense.

Therefore, the first step into a more successful 2020-21 season is playing better defensively.

The 2019-20 seasons ended as San Antonio’s worst defensive season in franchise history as the squad allowed 113.5 points per 100 possessions after 71 games (2.9 more than league average), according to Basketball-Reference. The second worst season, by those standards, was 2018-19, when the team also allowed more points per hundred possessions than the league average.

Before that, the Spurs had above-average defensive numbers – by a lot – for 21 straight seasons. As you may have noticed, those are the same 20 seasons of the franchise’s record 50-win streak – plus the shortened 1998-99 season, when San Antonio won 37 out of 50 matches played.

That said, the offseason moves by the front office have shown signs of refocusing on the least glamorous end of the court.

Selecting prospects who are known for their defensive abilities in Devin Vassell and Tre Jones while deciding not to pay for good shooters but defensive-liabilities Bryn Forbes and Marco Belinelli is an example of that. Resigning Jakob Poeltl to a 3-year deal is also a move in this direction since he was the best defensive player in the squad last season. In fact, the Austrian big was the only Spur to end the season with an above-average Defensive Rating (108 pp/100, according to Basketball-Reference).

With players such as Poeltl, Murray, White, Keldon, Aldridge, and even Lonnie, Gay, and Samainc, on the roster, alongside Popovich and his coaching staff, San Antonio possesses assets needed to dramatically improve the franchises’ lately poor defensive numbers. Now it’s time to get back to the system, or even develop a new one, and put it into action as the new season approaches.

A good defense is not only essential to compete at a high level in the NBA, but also a big part of the San Antonio Spurs winning culture. Playing solid D is the first step into the silver and black resurgence.

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