Seems like the San Antonio Spurs have been cursed

By Klyde Manansala | Lead photo from Instagram | Art by Marian Hukom

Even with the pivotal changes that the San Antonio Spurs have faced in the course of the summer, they were still tagged as a Western Conference squad who have enough potential to sneak their way into the finals of the coming season. But even before the tip-off started, the basketball gods immediately smothered them from proving that.

It didn’t take long for the Spurs to suffer another black eye. Just days after their rookie guard Lonnie Walker IV tore his right meniscus, starting point guard Dejounte Murray then sustained a non-contact right knee injury while driving to the basket. He went down for a minute and the next thing they know, the 22-year-old guard tore his ACL in a pre-season game against the Houston Rockets.

A timeline for Murray’s recovery has yet to come out, but players who have suffered torn ACLs usually sit out for the entire season.

In a quick turn of events, almost everything had gone off the tracks for the Spurs who are still in the process of weathering the retirements and departures that hit their franchise recently.

Veteran Manu Ginobili decided to call it quits before pre-season started. The firm defense of Kyle Anderson will also no longer serve them as he inked a contract with the Memphis Grizzlies last summer. Walker IV could have proved himself as a guard fit for coach Pop’s system as early as now, but injury also got the best of him. And Tony Parker will be providing his leadership with the Charlotte Hornets now after being a cornerstone of the Spurs franchise.

With the scarcity of guards the team is facing right now, Patty Mills is the only seasoned ball handler they can rely on. Expected to play heavy minutes behind him is second-year guard Derrick White who suited up for more G-League games than he did for the Spurs last season.

Without prevarication, the Spurs are certainly going to have a long, long season. But putting coach Gregg Popovich’s brilliance into question isn’t the wisest thing to do. After all, he managed to guide the Spurs to a 47-35 regular season record even with Leonard playing just nine games last season. Kawhi Leonard’s wish to leave the organization inadvertently comprised another great defender in Danny Green in a trade with the Toronto Raptors. As the regular season looms, we’ve sorted out the best and worst things that could happen for the Spurs this year:

Brightside: DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge will play like beasts

As expected, the Spurs will bank on their top gems. A newly-acquired DeMar DeRozan and a reawakened LaMarcus Aldridge. Both of them have the ability to create plays for themselves from midrange. DeRozan has nothing in his mind but to make the Raptors pay for doing him dirty after sending him away for Leonard who gave no guarantee to play for Toronto after this season. Until now, DeRozan feels he was betrayed by the team he had wholeheartedly valued throughout his career—and that vengeful heart isn’t going away anytime soon. Expect him to unleash that fury all season long.

Meanwhile, Aldridge is on a whole different level right now. Expectations were high from him the moment he signed with the Spurs two seasons ago. But he didn’t meet those until last season when he literally put the whole team at his back in the wake of Leonard’s absence. He set new career-highs in every aspect of his game: points, rebounds, assists, three-point and free throw percentage, and efficiency rating. Aldridge has already shown his improvement under Pop and that he has a knack for leading a team all by himself. How about now that he has a reinforcement in DeRozan?

Downside: An unstable point guard contribution takes its toll 

Losing Murray for an entire season will be one of the biggest challenges the team has to overcome. Just over the course of the summer, Murray was seen as one of the next great floor generals. With Parker passing the torch to him, he’s projected to have a breakout season and make a huge career leap—but all of this will be stalled for awhile.

“If everything falls in its proper place, the Spurs can reach as far as the second round of the playoffs. But if it goes the other way around, they might have to endure a minor setback for a major comeback

Murray still hasn’t developed his jump shots, but he makes up for it with his astounding defense on the court. That is what the Spurs will likely miss. The West is stacked with all-star guards who can drop more than 20 on a nightly basis: Stephen Curry, Kyrie Irving, James Harden, and Chris Paul are just some. Can we expect Mills to provide a steady defense with one of these guards? Certainly not. White has the height and length to at least stay in front of those guards, but until he plays 50+ games for the Spurs, we can’t absolutely tell his ability to square up. The point guard position is the most crucial thing for the Spurs right now. They have the scorers, rebounders, but they don’t have that elite playmaker who can further boost their chances of reaching the finals.

Pretty much, this sums up the best and worst things for the Spurs right now. If everything falls in its proper place, the Spurs can reach as far as the second round of the playoffs. But if it goes the other way around, they might have to endure a minor setback for a major comeback.

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