Wolves Open Up Season Against A Spurs Team That Had An Eventful Offseason
Two 2017-18 playoff teams will face off to open the 2018-19 season.
One had a rather relaxed offseason. The other had quite the opposite.
The Wolves will open up their season on Oct. 17 in San Antonio against a Spurs team that had the un-Spursiest offseason in team history.
After a year of wondering ‘what will happen to Kawhi Leonard,’ we got the answer on July 18 when the Spurs sent Leonard and Danny Green to the Raptors for DeMar DeRozan, Jakob Poeltl and a protected 2019 first-round pick.
(We should also note that the Spurs last franchise cornerstone Tony Parker to the Hornets in free agency. That’s going to be really weird.)
I wrote after the trade that it was a great move for the Spurs, getting a top-20 player and a rotational player for a guy who had no intention of every playing another game for the Spurs. That's about all you can ask for.
If we’ve learned anything throughout the last 20 or so years, it’s that we should never underestimate Gregg Popovich. Last season, the Spurs only got nine games out of Leonard and still finished with a 47-35 record, seventh in the West.
By adding DeRozan, the Spurs will be better in 2018-19 than they were last season, the playoffs are no sure thing, though. As if the West wasn’t enough of a blood bath, we saw LeBron James join the Lakers. On paper, there appears to be 10-11 playoff teams. Unfortunately, only eight can actually be playoff teams.
Early season games don’t get a lot of attention, but these games against fellow teams in the West looking for a playoff spot are extremely important. Just look back to last season. The Wolves and Spurs finished with the same record, but the same record, but the Spurs had the 2-1 season series tiebreaker over the Wolves.
Getting the Spurs early in the season is probably an advantage for the Wolves. This will be a team that will need to learn how to play each other. The two stars in San Antonio, DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge, are both kings of the midrange shot, although both have done extended their range as the NBA has evolved. Still, the 10-16 foot shot is where each player shot the most from in 2017-18. For DeRozan, 24.3 percent of his shots came from that range. For Aldridge, that mark was 25.6 percent. By losing Leonard and Green, the Spurs lost two guys who can stretch the floor.
As for the Wolves, they opened up the season last season against the Spurs as well, falling 107-99.
A few Wolves-related tidbits when it comes to the Spurs:
- Karl-Anthony Towns was solid in three games, averaging 22.3 points and 12.7 rebounds while shooting 54.2 percent from the field and 80 percent (4-for-5) from the 3-point line.
- New (for the 2018-19 season, at least) Wolves forward Anthony Tolliver actually started his NBA career with the Spurs. In 19 games during the 2008-09 season, he averaged 2.7 points per game.
- Last season’s win over the Spurs marked Minnesota’s first win over San Antonio since April 8, 2014.