The 2022-23 season marks the start of a new era for the San Antonio Spurs. After missing the playoffs for three consecutive years, they get into rebuild mode by trading away All-Star guard Dejounte Murray to the Atlanta Hawks in exchange for mostly first-round picks. With the trade deadline coming up on Feb. 9, organizations like the Spurs might be making some moves soon.
San Antonio has one of the worst records in the NBA at 13-29 (at the time of writing) for 14th in the Western Conference. The team has its moments such as the 5-2 start but also had downs such as the 1-14 campaign in November.
With hopes of getting a higher first-round pick in the 2023 NBA Draft and maybe selecting Victor Wembanyama, the Spurs might be quite active as the trade deadline approaches.
With that said, here’s the biggest need the San Antonio Spurs must address at the 2023 NBA trade deadline.
Following their recent moves, the Spurs have some players who have shown flashes of their massive potentials. Keldon Johnson is averaging 21.3 points. Prior to his knee surgery, Devin Vassell was putting up 19.4 points and hitting 40.4 percent of his 3-point attempts. Tre Jones is also emerging as a solid point guard with 13.5 points and 6.4 assists.
While those players are showing some promise, there is still an area that the team might need to address. The Spurs have the worst defense in the league, allowing opponents to score 121 points per game. For comparison, with Murray last season, San Antonio’s defense was No. 23 with 113 points per game.
Jones was named the ACC Defensive Player of the Year in 2020 when he played for the Duke Blue Devils. However, he is just in his third season in the league and first as a full-time starter. So, he might still need some time to fully adapt to the NBA physicality.
The team’s No. 9 pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, Jeremy Sochan is also known for his defensive mind. Thanks to his style both as a player and his looks, fans often compare him to seven-time All-Defensive First Team member Dennis Rodman. However, as a rookie, the Baylor product is still in the early stages of his career and is still developing as an NBA-caliber defender.
Because of all that, it might be a good idea for the Spurs to go after more defenders. To not go into a different direction than what they been going, the best option would be acquiring young players.
An interesting name is Matisse Thybulle. He is averaging a career-low 11.9 minutes per game and just 2.5 points a contest. He has been involved in multiple trade rumors since the offseason, and with an expiring deal, the Philadelphia 76ers might not have him in their plans.
A two-time All-Defensive player, Thybulle could improve San Antonio’s defense instantly. Due to his offensive limitations, it is unlikely the Spurs would win way more games with him. However, they could make games closer and show some promise on their end.
Also, in San Antonio, Thybulle could perhaps develop his shot. In college, Kawhi Leonard shot 25 percent from 3-point land. After entering the league as a San Antonio player, he makes 38.2% of his 3-point attempts.
The Spurs could use some veterans such a Josh Richardson and Doug McDermott in a potential trade. Alongside Jakob Poeltl, they could contribute to contenders in the postseason. This allows San Antonio to acquire youngsters who are still not ready for the big stage.
At the end of the day, the Spurs are still a rebuilding franchise. Moves in 2022-23 should not necessarily make them better right now but instead think about seasons to come. Young defenders could benefit from the situation and help other players in their developments.