San Antonio Spurs 2023-24 season preview and predictions

96
 

San Antonio Spurs season preview

This preview originally appeared in our 2023-24 VSiN NBA Betting Guide, which was released on Thursday, October 5. To become a VSiN Pro subscriber and get all of our NBA coverage throughout the season, click here.

 

Spurs Betting Odds

NBA Finals: +20000
Conference: +10000
Division: +5500
Win Total: 29.5
Playoffs: Yes (+110)

NBA Odds | NBA Betting Splits | NBA Matchups

Team Analysis

There is an entire menu of Victor Wembanyama wagering options offered at DraftKings, so it’s safe to say what this entire season will be about when it comes to San Antonio. However, the Spurs have quietly put together a roster that is rife with young talent, and this team could surprise people with its competitiveness this season on a night-to-night basis.

First, we should start with some news about Wembanyama. His role with this team will be fascinating, and it seems that the team wants to roll him out slowly. It has been reported that Wembanyama will play power forward instead of center to limit the wear and tear on his body during his first 82-game season. If that is true, it is a somewhat big deal, especially for those looking to bet some season-long futures on Wembanyama.

For example, DraftKings has Wembanyama at a measly 20-1 to win Defensive Player of the Year. Those who bet into that already do not want him to hear that he is playing the four. Playing center will put Wembanyama in many actions defensively and give him opportunities as a shot blocker. He can certainly help from off-ball, and his length will allow him to be an effective help defender, but any lesser role defensively severely hampers a bet made at an already ridiculously watered-down number.

Regardless of his role, Wembanyama will be a massive addition to a Spurs team that finished last in non-garbage time defensive efficiency by allowing 120.9 points per 100 possessions. Rim protection was one of the biggest issues on that end of the floor. San Antonio allowed the fourth-most attempts within four feet of the basket and allowed opponents to shoot 67.6% on those shots. Even as a help defender, Wembanyama will improve the Spurs’s rim defense.

That improved rim defense should lead to an improvement in San Antonio’s halfcourt defense which allowed the most points per 100 plays last season (104.8). If that improves, then the Spurs could suddenly look like a competent defensive team themselves, as they finished 13th in opponent points added through transition offense (2.6).

The real question will be how this team improves offensively, but it has the pieces to be much better on that end of the floor.

Devin Vassell and Keldon Johnson both showed some impressive scoring prowess last season. Vassell averaged 18.5 points per game and shot 38.7% on 7.0 3-point attempts per game. Johnson was San Antonio’s leading scorer at 22.0 points per game. The duo were two of the Spurs’ top three players in usage rate (Zach Collins was second), and both have shown efficiency improvement throughout their careers.

Tre Jones also took a huge step forward last season, posting a career-best +5.0 efficiency differential and helping to improve the Spurs’ offensive rating by 3.6 points per 100 possessions on the floor while assisting on 30.5% of the team’s made baskets.

Jeremy Sochan is one of the most intriguing second-year players this season. He ranked in the 73rd percentile in efficiency differential (+3.7) and the 91st percentile in offensive rebounding rate (6.3%) as a rookie. His contributions on offense will be limited to transition opportunities and as a finisher, but he is one of the many young and talented players on this roster.

The offense is going to be somewhat clunky for the Spurs, especially if the projected starting lineup is true. Sochan and Wembanyama on the floor together means San Antonio could have two inconsistent shooters together at once. Wembanyama is a versatile offensive big, but he shot just 27.5% from distance last season for Metropolitans 92. He will space the floor because he will take the shots, but shooting could still be an issue for a team that finished 23rd in 3-point percentage (35.5%).

Still, this team is intriguing. It also has a decent mix of veterans like Cam Payne, Reggie Bullock and Cedi Osman, but every one of those players is on an expiring deal and could be flipped by the time the trade deadline comes around. It would not be shocking to see the Spurs get off to a good start once again this season, and at the very least, improve on their 33-49 ATS record from last year.

Win Total Analysis

San Antonio was one of the primary candidates to tank last season due to the allure of Victor Wembanyama. Now that the French phenom is in silver and black, there is no massive prize to shoot for at the top of the draft. The NBA also implemented its new rules in order to keep teams like the Spurs from resting players at the tail end of the season, so the effort should be there from the front office most of the season.

How the team will handle Wembanyama’s workload is a question though. There are already indications that the team wants to ease him into his first NBA season. Whether that is executed via frequent rest or minutes restrictions remains to be seen, but knowing the team’s most talented player is due for some sort of limitation is worrisome for those looking to bet the win total over.

Positive Residual has them with the toughest strength of schedule this season (.527), but much of that stems from a high amount of games at medium to high altitude. They only have 13 back-to-backs, and their net rest advantage is positive (+2), albeit small. Overall, they only have nine games in which they will have a true rest disadvantage. 

Win total bettors will have to decide whether this team is capable of improving its record by eight wins this season. That seems like quite the task given what is being reported about Wembanyama and the makeup of this roster. Plenty of veterans on this team will likely be on different rosters once the trade deadline rolls around, and the presence of Wembanyama seems to have inflated some expectations of San Antonio this season. The Spurs should be better ATS this season, but the win total should go under the posted total.

Win Total Recommendation: UNDER 29.5