The San Antonio Spurs opened training camp with five players looking to hook on with the team by earning the last roster spot. With the NBA regular season now just 10 days away, the competition for the 15th spot on the team appears to be down to three players.
San Antonio is still in the process of developing an identity, following the retirement of Tim Duncan. While the Spurs kept the majority of its core players and added a few veteran front court players (Pau Gasol and David Lee) this offseason, they are apparently going with younger players to fill out its roster. Which is why the team signed 2016 first round pick Dejounte Murray as well as international youngsters Davis Bertans and Livio Jean-Charles.
San Antonio also brought in four other youngsters — Bryn Forbes, Nicolas Laprovittola, Ryan Arcidiacono and Patricio Garino — as well as grizzled veteran Joel Anthony to compete for the final roster spot. Overall, 11 of the 19 players in training camp were not with the Spurs last season.
It was thought that Anthony had an edge on the competition for the final roster spot due to his experience, and the Spurs’ lack of front court depth. However, Tom Orsborn of My San Antonio is reporting that Forbes and Laprovittola have emerged as the front runners for the 15th spot.
Rookies Patricio Garino and Ryan Arcidiacono appear to have fallen behind in the competition for the final roster spot. Both players will likely remain with the franchise as they are candidates to be assigned to the Austin Spurs of the D-League as affiliate players — every NBA team is permitted to assign four affiliate players to the D-League.
Forbes, known as a three-point specialist during his four years at Michigan State, is perhaps the best shooter on the Spurs according to Jeff McDonald of San Antonio Express-News. And it is that aspect of the six-foot-three, 190 pound combo guard’s game that has caught the eye of Gasol, a 15-year NBA veteran.
“Forbes has an incredible ability to shoot the three,” Gasol said. “Quick trigger. Even though he doesn’t have a lot of size, he’s always around the ball and gets open and knocks ’em down. Right off the bat, that’s been pretty impressive.”
Forbes is averaging 7.6 points while shooting 48.1 percent (13-of-27) from the field as well as 50.0 percent (6-of-12) from beyond the arc through five preseason games. He has tallied six points in four of the five preseason contests with his best performance coming against Orlando on October 12, scoring 12 points on 4-of-5 shooting (2-of-3 on three-pointers).
Laprovittola is a true point and has shown the ability to be as crafty as a NBA veteran with 10 years of experience despite being just 26-years-old. Laprovittola is averaging 4.6 points along with 2.8 assist a game while shooting 38.o (8-of-21) from the floor though he has knocked down 50 percent of his treys (7-of-14). He has become more aggressive on the offensive end the last two games, putting up 17 points as he has made 6-of-13 shots — including 5-of-8 from beyond the arc.
Anthony is definitely still in the mix and has really been a pleasant surprise. If the 34-year-old does make the squad, he could have a real role as the Spurs only have six true front court players.
Anthony has done everything that can be asked from a big man this preseason — scoring, rebounding, blocking shots and playing defense. He is averaging 3.4 points, 3.0 rebounds and 1.4 blocked shots in 14 minutes of action a game.
San Antonio fell to 3-2 in the preseason with a 108-100 loss to the Miami Heat on Friday night. The Spurs have one preseason game remaining — on October 21 versus the Houston Rockets — before opening the regular season at Golden State Warriors on October 25.
So, when will the Spurs make a decision on their roster cuts? Head coach Gregg Popovich told Michael C. Wright of ESPN that he is in no rush to make a decision.
“We’ve got tonight, and maybe three good practices next week and a game. So I don’t have any plan right now to let guys go unless there are guys who need a decision because another team wants them, or maybe a European team wants them. Then, we will adjust that and do what is right for them, and make the decision quicker. But now, I don’t feel any of that kind of pressure.”
[Featured Image by by Rich Barnes/Getty Images]