After the the drama surrounding the exit of franchise cornerstone Kawhi Leonard in 2017-18, San Antonio Spurs and Coach Popovich had a tall task at hand this past season. Dejounte Murray's ACL tear in the preseason of the 2018-19 campaign made matters worse when he was projected to miss the complete season.
Now that we are on the other side of the year looking backwards, it wasn't a trainwreck as many would have expected in the first place.
"I think that bringing in DeMar (DeRozan in the Leonard trade) and (having) LaMarcus (Aldridge), we were fortunate to get two highly talented players," said former Spurs superstar David Robinson. "We still obviously have some things to figure out. We still aren't where we need to be yet, but we have pieces, and that's all you can really ask as a franchise."
The Spurs finished as the 7th seed in the West, holding a respectable 48-34 (0.585) win-loss record to their name. They dragged the 2nd seed Nuggets all the way to a Game 7 in the first round where everything came down to a Jamal Murray floater in the final few seconds of the matchup. Safe to say, Pop and his men made huge strides in making big of what they had down the stretch.
While the stars led from the front throughout the season, there were some prominent names who didn't step up as their team expected them to. Let's take a look at the three most disappointing performers from the Spurs roster during their recently concluded 2018-19 campaign.
#1 Marco Belinelli
After signing with the San Antonio Spurs in July of 2018, the Italian returned for a second stint to a city with whom he had won his one and only title. The former NBA three-point shootout champion (2014) averaged 10.5 points, 2.5 rebounds and 1.7 assists in the 79 games he played for the Spurs this past season.
For a professional long-range sharp-shooter, he converted an underwhelming 37% from beyond the arc (attempting 5 three-pointers per game) and 41% from the field. This was his lowest scoring year in the last four seasons. In the postseason against the Nuggets, Belinelli averaged an ordinary 5.9 points per game.
At 32 years of age, he is a player whose value is plummeting with every passing year, and the lack of athleticisim doesn't help either his or the Spurs' cause in the longrun.
#2 Lonnie Walker IV
After suffering a right medial meniscus tear in October of 2018 (for the second time in under two years), Walker missed considerable time with the Spurs in the beginning of the season. He ended up playing 17 games with the team coming off the bench to average just 2.6 points per game.
During his time in the G league, he didn't stand out with his unimpressive 1.5 turnovers to 1.8 assists per game. His efficiency in the paint was a huge concern with conversions like 54% from inside the restricted area and 39% from the non-restricted area inside the paint, which are fairly low by NBA standards.
His inability to finish at the rim and a high affinity to take shots from the midrange undermine his athleticism and defense in today's NBA. Clearly, he needs to work on his body control and his ability to finish in traffic as well.
#3 Jakob Poeltl
Amidst the controversy of him setting illegal screens - one of which resulted in Jamal Murray aggravating his thigh injury in round 1 of the playoffs - Poeltl has been in the news for all things negative lately.
He played 77 games for the Spurs this season (started in 24 of them) and averaged just 5.5 points per game, a step down from his season-high scoring average with the Raptors last year. The 7-foot center from Austria played over 16 minutes per game for the silver and black and pulled down 5.3 boards with a miserable 53% conversion from the foul-line.
He did play extended minutes in the postseason and averaged 7.3 points and 7.7 rebounds along the seven game series. He has proven to be influential at times but his production still remains a cause of concern for the franchise going forward.