April 21, 2023, 1:35 pm
The San Antonio Spurs continued on their rebuild with a season that saw them trade away their starting center for the last 4.5 seasons and tank their way to tying for the second-worst regular season record. The team finished 22-60, winning only eight of their 41 road games after turning heads with a 5-2 start. At this point, it’s clear that the Spurs know where they’re at in terms of team trajectory. The decision makers here have been around long enough to know not to take shortcuts. This team needs elite talent and the best way for them to do that is at the top of the draft, even if it meant pumping the brakes on some of their best players.
How’d It Go?
It went about as you’d expect. The Spurs were always facing a steep climb to get into the bottom half of the playoff bracket and there were never any indications that the team was going to really lean into fighting for postseason reps. The year would be about what San Antonio could do at the trade deadline and how their young core players would handle expanded roles in a season without a lot of meaningful games.
Early on, Devin Vassell and Keldon Johnson showed off some immense promise, making for the kind of one-two punch that the Spurs can most certainly build around. There were bumps in the road, particularly as Johnson fell into hold habits and became a hollow scorer who wasn’t always efficient, but the real blow was Vassell missing a couple months with left knee surgery. The Spurs were never going to be a serious postseason threat but losing Vassell, who flashed glimpses of elite two-way wing play before his injury, ended even the faintest of Play-In hopes. Tre Jones, elevated as a result of the summer’s Dejounte Murray trade, held up well as a starter, though he was more of a floor-raiser than a ceiling-raiser.
Jeremy Sochan was one of the rare Spurs rookies who was tossed into a big role right away and he surprised at times. Boasting the reputation of an elite defender and questionable scorer coming out of college, Sochan had a few hot streaks where he would shoot the ball at a blistering clip, though that did seem to take away from his defensive output. He could never quite get cooking on both ends of the floor but Sochan definitely looked like a quality NBA player, with weaknesses that may have been overstated during draft season.
At the trade deadline, impending free agent Jakob Poeltl was dealt to the Raptors and Josh Richardson went to New Orleans in deals that netted the Spurs a first-rounder and four seconds, plus Devonte’ Graham. The maintenance days came hot and heavy as the Spurs were battling Houston, Detroit and Charlotte in a race to the bottom and guys like Johnson, Vassell, Sochan, Jones and Zach Collins — who was solid in his audition as a starter — all saw their minutes dialed down. It allowed for other youngsters like Malaki Branham and Charles Bassey to shine at times, which was all part of the plan.
This season, the legendary Gregg Popovich had a few medical procedures that forced him to sit out some games. It does feel like a new era is coming with Popovich creeping towards retirement, though until then you know what you’re getting. He’s a coaching icon and is making the most out of what he’s being given, and there doesn’t seem to be any discord between Pop and the front office about where the team is. You can quibble about rotations from time to time, but systems can only go so far when the team is more focused on the hot draft prospects over winning games.
The PlayersDevin VassellSG, San Antonio Spurs
Season Team GP GS MPG FGM FGA FG% FTM FTA FT% 3PTM 3PTA 3PT% PTS REB AST STL BLK TO 22-23 SA 38 32 31.0 6.9 15.7 43.9 2.1 2.6 78.0 2.7 7.0 38.7 18.5 3.9 3.6 1.1 0.4 1.5 21-22 SA 70 31 27.2 4.6 10.8 42.8 1.1 1.4 83.2 1.9 5.3 36.0 12.2 4.3 1.9 1.1 0.6 0.8 20-21 SA 62 7 17.0 2.0 4.9 40.6 0.7 0.8 84.3 0.8 2.4 34.7 5.5 2.8 0.9 0.7 0.3 0.4
ADP: 88/80 (ESPN/Yahoo) | Per-Game Value: 83/78 (8/9-cat) | Total Value: 210/210 (8/9-cat)
By far the best 9-cat option on this team on a per-game basis, Vassell took the expected jump in his third season as a pro. Boasting respectable averages across the board with some notable career-highs, Vassell was often the only reliable needle-mover for fantasy managers. The modern game demands quality 3-and-D wing play and the Spurs got that and more out of the third-year swingman, who showcased some impressive scoring ability and offered up flashes of being an efficient volume scorer. There was a strong case for Vassell to be a Most Improved Player candidate, but unfortunately he was halted by injury.
Left knee discomfort just wouldn’t go away, and Vassell wound up going under the knife for a procedure that cost him two months of action. He was able to return, which is a good sign considering the Spurs weren’t interested in winning any games at the time Vassell was cleared, and we wouldn’t read too much into his late run of absences. It’s a shame that the knee issues robbed him of a full breakout season, but a full summer of recovery will hopefully prepare Vassell for a complete campaign in 2023-24.Tre JonesPG, San Antonio Spurs
Season Team GP GS MPG FGM FGA FG% FTM FTA FT% 3PTM 3PTA 3PT% PTS REB AST STL BLK TO 22-23 SA 68 65 29.2 5.0 10.9 45.9 2.2 2.5 86.0 0.7 2.3 28.5 12.9 3.6 6.6 1.3 0.1 1.6 21-22 SA 68 11 16.5 2.4 4.9 48.8 1.0 1.3 78.0 0.1 0.7 17.0 5.9 2.3 3.3 0.6 0.1 0.7 20-21 SA 38 1 7.3 1.0 2.1 47.4 0.4 0.5 89.5 0.1 0.1 60.0 2.5 0.6 1.0 0.2 0.0 0.3
ADP: 111/103 (ESPN/Yahoo) | Per-Game Value: 98/96 (8/9-cat) | Total Value: 85/85 (8/9-cat)
As many knew Jones would take the starting role, he gained quite a bit of hype in fantasy circles. There were always reasons to be skeptical but at the end of the day, a starting point guard is going to get drafted in fantasy leagues, even if his game isn’t all that spicy. Jones was able to put up a career year and held up well in his first extended run as a starter, with some particularly telling on-off numbers given the context of the team’s situation. That said, he was held back a bit by poor 3-point shooting and some modest scoring numbers. Jones was never a bad player but he didn’t really crack the ceiling from good-to-great until late in the year when the Spurs were sitting their top scorers.
It’s fair to question if Jones is guaranteed a starting role moving forward, though he’s the type of player that every team would like to have. You know what you’re getting, and that’s just solid, competent guard play every night. Whether there’s more room to grow will define his fantasy outlook, but this was a great season in terms of establishing a quality baseline.Zach CollinsC, San Antonio Spurs
Season Team GP GS MPG FGM FGA FG% FTM FTA FT% 3PTM 3PTA 3PT% PTS REB AST STL BLK TO 22-23 SA 63 26 22.9 4.5 8.7 51.8 1.7 2.3 76.1 0.9 2.3 37.4 11.6 6.4 2.9 0.6 0.8 2.0 21-22 SA 27 4 18.0 2.7 5.6 48.0 1.9 2.3 79.4 0.5 1.5 34.1 7.8 5.6 2.1 0.4 0.8 1.6 20-21 POR 1 24.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
ADP: 140/160 (ESPN/Yahoo) | Per-Game Value: 129/146 (8/9-cat) | Total Value: 139/165 (8/9-cat)
After the trade deadline, Collins went from a deeper-league asset to a must-roster player. He was a top-45 value in 9-cat from the deadline to the end of the season, finally getting a chance to run with a starting role. He began the year rehabbing another injury and was blocked by Jakob Poeltl, but the size of the deal he got from San Antonio always spoke to their optimism that he might turn out to be a player. For half a season, in questionable circumstances, the Spurs were proven correct. There’s really not much sense in analyzing his pre-deadline numbers, but once Poeltl was dealt away we got some fantastic stuff.
Over his final 19 games, Collins averaged 16.5 points, 8.0 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 1.1 steals, 1.1 blocks and 1.6 3-pointers in 28.8 mpg while shooting .494 from the field and .800 at the line. That will most definitely work for fantasy, and while Collins’ numbers figure to come down in more competitive games, Gregg Popovich has already referred to him as the starting center for next season. That can change in a hurry, obviously, but it’s a nice vote of confidence for a player who has struggled to build momentum throughout his career. The highs were very high this past season and that could be a one-time happening, but credit Collins for asserting himself when given the chance. Even if he doesn’t get that much run as a top player next season, there’s a useful fantasy stat set at the foundation of his game.Keldon JohnsonSF, San Antonio Spurs
Season Team GP GS MPG FGM FGA FG% FTM FTA FT% 3PTM 3PTA 3PT% PTS REB AST STL BLK TO 22-23 SA 63 63 32.7 8.0 17.7 45.2 3.9 5.2 74.9 2.1 6.5 32.9 22.0 5.0 2.9 0.7 0.2 2.1 21-22 SA 74 72 31.9 6.3 13.4 46.7 2.3 3.1 74.9 2.1 5.3 40.2 16.9 6.1 2.1 0.7 0.2 1.2 20-21 SA 69 67 28.5 4.9 10.2 47.9 2.1 2.8 74.0 0.9 2.6 33.1 12.8 6.0 1.8 0.6 0.3 1.1
ADP: 86/71 (ESPN/Yahoo) | Per-Game Value: 134/165 (8/9-cat) | Total Value: 146/173 (8/9-cat)
Taken pretty much unanimously in the top-85, Johnson had a lot of people expecting a massive leap in his performance this past season. However, what we ended up getting was more of the same. Sure, Johnson set a new career-high in scoring, but that came because of added volume without a minutes increase and on worse efficiency. That’s not exactly a winning recipe, especially considering that he should have to contend with a full season of Devin Vassell and whoever the Spurs add over the summer. A collapse in his 3-point shooting was particularly disappointing, and perhaps a .409 mark from 2021-22 was more an outlier than a sign of big progress.
Outside of points and rebounds Johnson just didn’t offer much consistently. It’s a shame, as Johnson was actually a top-50 player after the first few weeks of the season. From there his 3-point shooting dried up and an early binge of steals proved to be a mirage. The Spurs can feel confident that Johnson can work as the team’s top scoring option, and there’s no doubt that he can get buckets. Fantasy managers, however, need more than just that. His standout production stems from being the clear primary scorer on a team that is ripped down to the studs. It’s hard to totally write off a player who can be a 20-point guy every night, and the hope is that his game will improve as the team around him does. That story has played out before and Johnson will need a sequel if he’s to become more than a points and punt option.Jeremy SochanPF, San Antonio Spurs
Season Team GP GS MPG FGM FGA FG% FTM FTA FT% 3PTM 3PTA 3PT% PTS REB AST STL BLK TO 22-23 SA 56 53 26.0 4.5 9.9 45.3 1.4 2.1 69.8 0.6 2.4 24.6 11.0 5.3 2.5 0.8 0.4 1.7
ADP: 140/160 (ESPN/Yahoo) | Per-Game Value: 208/245 (8/9-cat) | Total Value: 224/248 (8/9-cat)
It might not seem like much, but a pivotal moment in a strong rookie season from Sochan was when he decided to shoot his free throws one-handed. It indicated a willingness to try new things in pursuit of improvement, even if they looked odd and drew online criticism. There’s a degree of humility there that suggests Sochan knows his current limits, but sports an eagerness to get better. The first time he busted out the new form was December 19 vs. the Rockets. Prior to that game, he shot .458 at the stripe. After, he went a respectable .761, going from punt-worthy to passable. That was just the tip of the iceberg in a season that featured some good surprises for Sochan.
Sochan entered the league as a potential impact defender but a very-much-unfinished product on offense. That played out for the early part of the season, with Sochan offering some modest appeal as a defensive specialist who could also tank your percentages. The switch seemed to flip towards the middle of the winter months, as Sochan started piling up double-digit point games on sturdy percentages. Unfortunately, that tended to take away from his defensive output, which cut the legs out from under him. From the trade deadline through the end of the season, Sochan was just outside the top-200 in 9-cat scoring. While Sochan was never clicking to the point that he was a long-term, must-play fantasy option, the positives far outweigh the negatives in his first NBA season. You can see the building blocks of a fun fantasy player and Sochan looks to be further up on the improvement curve than expected.Devonte' GrahamPG, San Antonio Spurs
Season Team GP GS MPG FGM FGA FG% FTM FTA FT% 3PTM 3PTA 3PT% PTS REB AST STL BLK TO 22-23 SA 73 8 18.3 2.2 5.9 37.4 1.3 1.8 74.8 1.6 4.6 35.2 7.4 1.7 2.7 0.6 0.2 0.7 21-22 NO 76 63 28.4 3.9 10.7 36.3 1.6 1.8 84.3 2.5 7.4 34.0 11.9 2.3 4.2 0.9 0.2 1.4 20-21 CHA 55 44 30.2 4.6 12.2 37.7 2.4 2.9 84.2 3.3 8.7 37.5 14.8 2.7 5.4 0.9 0.1 1.5
ADP: 141/140 (ESPN/Yahoo) | Per-Game Value: 296/287 (8/9-cat) | Total Value: 229/214 (8/9-cat)
Graham’s acquisition by the Pelicans proved to be a disaster, and you knew the writing was on the wall when he wasn’t part of their rotation in last season’s postseason. Jose Alvarado completely passed him by and the addition of Dyson Daniels buried him even further, so it was no surprise to see Graham moved at the deadline. What was surprising was his first game with San Antonio: a 31-point explosion that reminded everyone of why the Pelicans went out and got him in the first place.
Over the last 20 games of the season, Graham averaged 13.4 points, 4.0 assists and 2.7 3-pointers in 26.4 mpg, though he did shoot just .380 from the field. That landed him outside the top-200 but Graham’s highs were very high and he was always a streaming option for managers chasing points and treys. That all comes with the asterisk of Graham compiling numbers on a roster that was constantly missing about a third of the regular rotation, with a team that had no interest in winning. It was a hint at a career revival, but Graham isn’t guaranteed a similar role moving forward.Malaki BranhamSG, San Antonio Spurs
Season Team GP GS MPG FGM FGA FG% FTM FTA FT% 3PTM 3PTA 3PT% PTS REB AST STL BLK TO 22-23 SA 66 32 23.5 4.1 9.3 44.0 0.9 1.1 82.9 1.2 3.9 30.2 10.2 2.7 1.9 0.5 0.1 1.2
ADP: N/A/N/A (ESPN/Yahoo) | Per-Game Value: 284/301 (8/9-cat) | Total Value: 236/249 (8/9-cat)
Branham, like many Spurs rookies before him, started off with a limited role. Unlike many Spurs rookies before him, the team was bad enough that Branham got some rocket fuel to end the season and was given plenty of time to play, shoot and learn from his mistakes. It took him a while to heat up after a strong 3-point season at Ohio State but by the end of the year it was easy to see Branham’s appeal as a prospect.
From the trade deadline onwards, Branham averaged 13.7 points, 4.1 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 0.6 steals and 1.4 3-pointers per game on .451 shooting in 25 appearances. Many of those outings featured the Spurs at far less than full strength, but those were good developmental minutes and Branham proved himself as a worthy streaming option when the injury report was favorable for him. He won’t get that kind of unfettered usage next season but he’s definitely a rotational wing.Keita Bates-DiopSF, San Antonio Spurs
Season Team GP GS MPG FGM FGA FG% FTM FTA FT% 3PTM 3PTA 3PT% PTS REB AST STL BLK TO 22-23 SA 67 42 21.7 3.5 6.9 50.8 1.8 2.2 79.3 0.8 2.1 39.4 9.7 3.7 1.5 0.7 0.3 0.8 21-22 SA 58 14 16.2 2.3 4.4 51.8 0.8 1.0 74.6 0.3 0.9 30.9 5.6 3.9 0.7 0.5 0.2 0.8 20-21 SA 30 8.2 1.0 2.2 44.8 0.5 0.7 66.7 0.2 0.6 29.4 2.6 1.6 0.4 0.4 0.2 0.2
ADP: N/A/N/A (ESPN/Yahoo) | Per-Game Value: 225/208 (8/9-cat) | Total Value: 190/180 (8/9-cat)
Bates-Diop was simply a deep-league pickup when he received playing time and did not amount to much more this season. He’s a steady hand that coach Pop can count on to play hard, but most of KBD’s fledgling fantasy value was cooked up when some combo of Devin Vassell/Keldon Johnson/Jeremy Sochan/Zach Collins was absent. Luckily for him, that was quite frequent over the last couple of months. Bates-Diop was actually a top-135 (9-cat) value from the trade deadline onwards (hope you’re sensing a theme here) and was able to turn 25.8 mpg into 12.7 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 0.7 steals, 0.4 blocks and 1.3 3-pointers on .514 shooting from the field and .814 at the line. Typically thought of as a threat for hollow double-doubles, Bates-Diop showed a little versatility to his game and a much-improved 3-point shot. If nothing else, he has established himself as a legitimate NBA player.Charles BasseyC, San Antonio Spurs
Season Team GP GS MPG FGM FGA FG% FTM FTA FT% 3PTM 3PTA 3PT% PTS REB AST STL BLK TO 22-23 SA 35 2 14.5 2.5 3.9 64.4 0.6 1.1 59.5 0.1 0.2 37.5 5.7 5.5 1.3 0.5 0.9 1.2 21-22 PHI 22 7.5 1.4 2.1 63.8 0.4 0.5 75.0 0.0 0.2 0.0 3.1 2.8 0.3 0.2 0.8 0.4
ADP: N/A/N/A (ESPN/Yahoo) | Per-Game Value: 219/227 (8/9-cat) | Total Value: 307/310 (8/9-cat)
Bassey’s year got off to a rough start as he was waived by the Sixers before opening night. He landed with the Spurs on a two-way deal and ended up making a strong impression in November/December when Jakob Poeltl was out of the lineup and Zach Collins was in constant foul trouble. The Spurs chose to convert that two-way contract into a four-year deal in February, and Bassey was lined up to be another key youngster to watch after Poeltl was traded. Unfortunately, a left patella fracture ended his season prematurely and limited Bassey to just 11 games post-deadline. He was onto something good before then, posting top-170 value in just 16.5 mpg thanks to 7.9 points, 6.2 rebounds and 1.0 blocks on .615 shooting in 11 appearances between Poeltl’s departure and his injury. Bassey is a name that should be of interest to deep-league GMs, depending on what the Spurs add this summer.Doug McDermottSF, San Antonio Spurs
Season Team GP GS MPG FGM FGA FG% FTM FTA FT% 3PTM 3PTA 3PT% PTS REB AST STL BLK TO 22-23 SA 64 0 20.5 3.7 8.2 45.7 0.8 1.1 75.7 1.9 4.7 41.3 10.2 2.2 1.4 0.2 0.1 0.9 21-22 SA 51 51 24.0 4.2 9.1 46.2 0.8 1.0 78.4 2.1 5.0 42.2 11.3 2.3 1.3 0.3 0.1 0.8 20-21 IND 66 29 24.5 5.4 10.1 53.2 1.2 1.5 81.6 1.7 4.3 38.8 13.6 3.3 1.3 0.3 0.1 0.8
ADP: N/A/N/A (ESPN/Yahoo) | Per-Game Value: 309/320 (8/9-cat) | Total Value: 264/269 (8/9-cat)
McDermott was signed to a hefty deal to be a low-maintenance starter who can space the floor and tussle with opposing forwards on defense, but the Spurs’ slide down the standings has meant a diminished role. What you see is what you get here, and McDermott was just a lightly diminished version of the guy he’s always been. You can count on him for 3-pointers on a reasonable mark from the field, but beyond that there was, and will continue to be, limited utility in fantasy.Julian ChampagnieSF, San Antonio Spurs
Season Team GP GS MPG FGM FGA FG% FTM FTA FT% 3PTM 3PTA 3PT% PTS REB AST STL BLK TO 22-23 SA 17 3 18.8 3.5 7.6 45.4 0.8 1.0 82.4 1.9 4.8 40.2 9.7 3.5 0.6 0.4 0.3 0.6
ADP: N/A/N/A (ESPN/Yahoo) | Per-Game Value: 252/236 (8/9-cat) | Total Value: 393/380 (8/9-cat)
Champagnie is another player who didn’t enter the picture until the tank was fully revved up, but he posted some intriguing lines when it was his time to shine. Like Bassey, Champagnie began the year with Philadelphia but was waived before landing on his feet in San Antonio. The bulk of his action came in the last three weeks of the season when the Spurs were stuffing the injury report every night, but Champagnie delivered a handful of double-digit scoring games, including three of 20-plus, as well as rebounds, 3-pointers and a surprising amount of blocks. He may have earned himself a longer look when the Spurs are full strength.Dominick BarlowPF, San Antonio Spurs
Season Team GP GS MPG FGM FGA FG% FTM FTA FT% 3PTM 3PTA 3PT% PTS REB AST STL BLK TO 22-23 SA 28 0 14.6 1.6 3.1 53.5 0.6 0.9 72.0 0.0 0.1 0.0 3.9 3.6 0.9 0.4 0.7 0.5
ADP: N/A/N/A (ESPN/Yahoo) | Per-Game Value: 326/306 (8/9-cat) | Total Value: 375/368 (8/9-cat)
Barlow went undrafted after playing with Overtime Elite last season and ended up on a two-way contract with the Spurs. A real developmental project, Barlow’s biggest impact was made during the dog days of the tank, culminating in a 21-point, 19-rebound season finale vs. the Mavs. His ability to pump out multi-block games was notable in deeper formats but it bears repeating that Barlow was only on the floor once Jakob Poeltl was traded and Zach Collins and Charles Bassey were out.Romeo LangfordSG, San Antonio Spurs
Season Team GP GS MPG FGM FGA FG% FTM FTA FT% 3PTM 3PTA 3PT% PTS REB AST STL BLK TO 22-23 SA 43 21 19.6 2.8 6.0 46.7 0.9 1.3 69.6 0.4 1.4 26.2 6.9 2.7 1.2 0.6 0.3 0.7 21-22 SA 48 5 16.0 1.7 4.0 43.5 0.5 0.9 54.8 0.6 1.8 34.1 4.5 2.3 0.4 0.5 0.3 0.3 20-21 BOS 19 4 14.9 1.1 3.1 35.6 0.5 0.6 75.0 0.3 0.9 27.8 2.9 1.8 0.7 0.3 0.3 0.5
ADP: N/A/N/A (ESPN/Yahoo) | Per-Game Value: 339/342 (8/9-cat) | Total Value: 333/330 (8/9-cat)
Langford was nothing special last season, even though he set a few career-highs, including starts and playing time. He got more playing time once the Spurs started sitting the big guns but his own injury troubles prevented him from really getting into rhythm during the free-flowing days of March and April. Langford wasn’t much of a fantasy option and we don’t see that changing going forward.Sandro MamukelashviliPF, San Antonio Spurs
Season Team GP GS MPG FGM FGA FG% FTM FTA FT% 3PTM 3PTA 3PT% PTS REB AST STL BLK TO 22-23 SA 43 7 15.3 2.3 5.3 42.2 0.9 1.3 68.4 0.7 2.3 30.3 6.1 4.3 1.4 0.3 0.3 0.8 21-22 MIL 41 3 9.9 1.4 2.8 49.6 0.4 0.5 81.8 0.5 1.3 42.3 3.8 2.0 0.5 0.2 0.2 0.4
ADP: N/A/N/A (ESPN/Yahoo) | Per-Game Value: 344/356 (8/9-cat) | Total Value: 337/339 (8/9-cat)
Mamukelashvili came over after being waived by the Bucks and got strong reviews from coaches and teammates. He, like many other names here, benefited from the late-season teardown and was able to get regular playing time as the backup to Zach Collins or the fill-in starter when Collins was “injured.” Mamukelashvili ended up with 9.8 points, 6.4 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 0.5 steals, 0.4 blocks and 1.1 3-pointers in 22.1 mpg while shooting .440 from the field in 22 games after the trade deadline, good for top-225 value. He grabbed a couple of big double-doubles and had a handful of near-misses, though his general lack of blocks limited his appeal.Gorgui DiengC, San Antonio Spurs
Season Team GP GS MPG FGM FGA FG% FTM FTA FT% 3PTM 3PTA 3PT% PTS REB AST STL BLK TO 22-23 SA 31 1 11.5 1.5 3.8 38.5 0.3 0.4 76.9 0.7 2.4 28.0 3.9 3.5 1.7 0.1 0.5 1.0 21-22 ATL 44 3 8.4 1.2 2.5 47.3 0.4 0.6 73.1 0.7 1.5 42.6 3.5 2.8 0.8 0.3 0.3 0.5 20-21 SA 38 1 14.6 2.2 4.3 52.1 1.5 1.8 86.6 0.8 1.8 42.9 6.8 3.7 1.3 0.7 0.4 0.8
ADP: N/A/N/A (ESPN/Yahoo) | Per-Game Value: 372/398 (8/9-cat) | Total Value: 381/390 (8/9-cat)
Dieng is a serviceable emergency big who is a shell of his former self. It’s a shame, as that former self was actually a quality player who just entered the league a few years too late. He was waived by the Spurs in January and then rejoined the team down the stretch on a pair of 10-day contracts. The Spurs clearly value his presence and you could do a lot worse if you need 10 minutes a night up front, but Dieng was only notable for his on-court work in the final week of the season.Khem BirchC, San Antonio Spurs
Season Team GP GS MPG FGM FGA FG% FTM FTA FT% 3PTM 3PTA 3PT% PTS REB AST STL BLK TO 22-23 SA 20 0 8.1 1.0 1.6 59.4 0.2 0.3 80.0 0.1 0.1 50.0 2.2 1.3 0.4 0.3 0.3 0.4 21-22 TOR 54 27 18.0 1.8 3.6 48.2 1.0 1.3 74.6 0.0 0.3 0.0 4.5 4.3 1.0 0.5 0.5 0.6 20-21 TOR 67 22 22.8 2.8 5.7 49.7 1.4 1.9 70.5 0.2 0.8 25.0 7.2 5.8 1.3 0.7 0.7 0.7
ADP: 140/107 (ESPN/Yahoo) | Per-Game Value: 460/454 (8/9-cat) | Total Value: 446/444 (8/9-cat)
Birch was unable to get himself in the mix in a wide-open battle for center minutes in Toronto as his troublesome knee wouldn’t allow him to compete. He got a few looks here and there but it became clear that he didn’t fit with Nick Nurse’s vision, and the knee problems only got worse. He would end up missing the last 48 games of the season (the final 28 due to right knee chondromalacia) and didn’t suit up with the Spurs after he was acquired at the deadline.Blake WesleySG, San Antonio Spurs
Season Team GP GS MPG FGM FGA FG% FTM FTA FT% 3PTM 3PTA 3PT% PTS REB AST STL BLK TO 22-23 SA 37 1 18.1 1.9 5.8 32.1 0.7 1.2 59.1 0.5 1.4 38.5 5.0 2.2 2.7 0.7 0.1 1.8
ADP: 140/160 (ESPN/Yahoo) | Per-Game Value: 404/494 (8/9-cat) | Total Value: 377/436 (8/9-cat)
Wesley, a rookie out of Notre Dame, was always going to be an afterthought for the Spurs this season. He was put on the back burner even further after tearing his left MCL on Halloween. Wesley became a rotation fixture after the trade deadline but even that only led to top-450 value in 9-cat formats, and his two best games came in the final two of the campaign. He’s a nice young prospect in a wing group that looks fairly deep if everyone pans out, but was never more than a dynasty option in his first year.
Despite only playing in 38 games, Devin Vassell flashed some serious potential at being a top-50 asset for years to come. He took the third-year leap you were hoping for, setting new career-highs in points, assists, 3-pointers and field goal percentage, and his on-court play matched the leaps in the box score. The injuries are killer here, as they kept managers from really reaping the benefits of snagging Vassell in the middle rounds. On one hand, that could leave him undervalued next season, as Vassell was posting top-50 value in 9-cat before undergoing surgery for chronic left knee soreness. On the other, Vassell may not ever have a season like this one; one that lined up for him to get major reps as The Guy. Whoever the Spurs add at the top of the draft will command a share of the offense, and improvement from Tre Jones and Keldon Johnson should take some work off his plate. Even so, Vassell is the easy choice for Fantasy Star here, as nobody who finished the year on the roster could come close to his upside.
Throughout the season, managers who took Keldon Johnson in the first 70 picks of some drafts were likely extremely frustrated at his rollercoaster production. It started well, which is a story we’ve seen before, and Johnson legitimately looked like he was filling in some of the gaps in his stat set. By the end of the season, however, that was proven to be yet another flash in the pan. The nights where Johnson had his entire act together weren’t frequent enough, and in the end we had another pile of games that were good enough to keep you on the hook — big scoring on a weak percentage with some defensive stats, a nice double-double with almost nothing else, a poor shooting night but some steals and blocks to go with his always-steady rebounds. If you could pick and choose what Johnson was providing you had a middle-round player. On balance, it was a late-round season from a player who is clearly capable of more.
Managers in the right builds were able to benefit from Johnson’s output, even at his elevated ADP, but the vast majority of fantasy GMs were not expecting to work around deficiencies when picking Johnson on draft day. He remains an empty calorie fantasy option, though continued improvement is always on the board for a player who has so much talent. Couple that with his ample opportunity on this roster and it’s easy to see why Johnson allured fantasy managers despite his track record. Maybe the third time is the charm here?
One to Watch
After earning the starting point guard role for this team after the departure of Dejounte Murray, there were moments in which Tre Jones looked like a truly level-headed solution for the future. In terms of total value, he actually exceeded most expectations while playing nearly exactly to the per-game expectations of finishing right around the top-100. He was definitely more of a plodder, grinding out value with boring but solid lines night after night rather than popping off for explosive games, but a team that’s this young, with a current group that isn’t necessarily filled with shot-makers, could use a guy like that. We already know that Jones can keep things moving on time and on target, so it bears watching to see if he can push the envelope with his game and offer a little more pop. It’s the difference between being a quality starter and a potential star, in both fantasy and reality.
One Burning Question
Considering the talent level of this team, and the state of their rebuild, the biggest question for this squad is: Will the Spurs receive the No. 1 pick in the 2023 NBA Draft? While this question is technically out of their control, the team did “do their job” in terms of tanking this season. The Spurs, Pistons and Rockets all have an equal 14.0% chance at drafting Victor Wembenyama at the upcoming draft. If the Spurs are able to pick their future franchise centerpiece as soon as June of this year, there would be quite a shift in the narrative or expectations for this team next season. If the team picks Scoot Henderson or Brandon Miller with the expected second or third picks in the draft, the Spurs would have a more competent starting lineup; yet, it truly does not compare to the possibilities with Wembenyama on the team.
If next season begins with a starting lineup of Tre Jones (assuming he accepts a qualifying offer), Devin Vassell, Keldon Johnson, Jeremy Sochan and Victor Wembenyama — that is a group of players who, with the proper leap in development, can likely provide some fun fantasy plays all season. Wembenyama would be treated as the next international king of San Antonio, while Vassell should continue on his pathway to being a very solid wing. Jones should continue as a solid playmaker and defender, while Johnson simply needs to improve his efficiency to boost his fantasy outlook in a big way. Lastly, for Sochan, his fantasy profile this season was jumbled by lower minutes and injuries earlier in the season; if he can stay healthy, his game has constantly been compared to Draymond Green or Dennis Rodman at times. We shall see if this raw combination of players can grow into the types of players to return this storied franchise to success out west.
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