2017-18 San Antonio Spurs Player Grades: Part 1

The long offseason has begun, which means it's time to analyze how each Spurs player affected the team. In the first part of this series, we will asses six players' performances this year.

In the first part of our San Antonio Spurs Player Grades, we'll asses the performances of the players with the lowest minute totals. This group includes two-way players, end-of-the-bench guys, and, ironically, the Spurs' best player.

The grading scale is pretty simple: Each player is assessed based on the expectations for him. This means that even though Kawhi Leonard may have played better than Darrun Hilliard this year, he is expected to play at a higher level than Hilliard and therefore may not earn a higher grade. We are going to treat "C" as the average. For each accomplishment, a player will go up from a C; for each disappointment, he'll drop to a lower grade.

Matt Costello

Costello's role on the Spurs was extremely limited this year. A pioneer in the NBA's new two-way program, Costello spent the majority of his season playing for San Antonio's G-League affiliate, the Austin Spurs. He averaged 8 points, 6.9 rebounds, 2.1 blocks, and two assists in 22 minutes per game. In addition, Costello helped the Austin Spurs win their second G-League championship. During the playoffs, the sophomore forward averaged 9 points, 6 rebounds, 4.5 blocks, and 1.5 assists in 27.4 minutes per game. 

Costello played in just four NBA games this year. He played exclusively in garbage time, so his stats during that time are largely insignificant. Though he didn't light it up this season, Costello fulfilled his expectations as a two-way player.

Grade: C

Darrun Hilliard

Like Costello, Hilliard was on a two-way contract and spent most of the year in the G-League. He had an excellent year and was a deserving member of the G-League All-NBA team with 20.7 points, 4.6 rebounds, 3.8 assists, and 1.1 steals per game. Hilliard was also a crucial part of the Austin Spurs' championship run. Throughout the postseason, he averaged 18.5 points, 3.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and 1.1 steals per game. 

Hilliard played in 14 NBA games this season. However, he only played in blowout conditions, so his numbers aren't meaningful. Despite his unremarkable NBA play this year, Hilliard had a superb year in the G-League, warranting him a higher grade.

Grade: B

Derrick White

The Spurs drafted White with the 29th pick in the 2017 NBA draft. However, injuries and a surplus of guards meant he played for the Austin Spurs most of the season. There, he averaged 20.1 points, 5 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.3 steals, and 1.1 blocks in 28.2 minutes per game. The 23-year-old shone in the G-League playoffs, where he had 24.8 points, 4.8 rebounds, 4 assists, 1.8 steals, and 1.8 blocks per game. 

While his NBA playing time was sparse, White made the most of the minutes he got. He played in 17 games, but he was on the court for more than 10 minutes in just five. He still managed to score over 10 points in three of his appearances. White made his NBA playoff debut in Game 1 of San Antonio's series against Golden State. In 13 minutes of play, he had 7 points, an assist, a steal, and a block. 

Grade: B+

Joffrey Lauvergne 

Lauvergne was one of the San Antonio's more questionable signings during the offseason. The 26-year-old proved to be a subpar defender and inefficient scorer in his first three years in the league, leaving Spurs fans scratching their heads as to why he was added to the roster. Unfortunately, his 2017-18 season was not much better. 

Lauvergne dealt with a myriad of injuries which limited him to playing just 55 games this year. The majority of those appearances, particularly towards the end of the season as the Spurs battled for a playoff spot, were in garbage time. While he started off the season playing decent minutes, Lauvergne quickly lost his place in the rotation as Davis Bertans bloomed. 

His shooting was remarkably poor, with an effective field goal percentage of just 49.7 percent. To make matters worse, his defense was a liability. Per Cleaning the Glass, when Lauvergne was on the court opponents shot a whopping 7.9 percent better at the rim. That puts him in the bottom three percent of bigs. 

While Lauvergne played poorly for the majority of the season, something odd happened on February 13th. With LaMarcus Aldridge out, the Spurs were desperate for some kind of offense. In a shocking turn of events, Lauvergne was the player to provide it. Though San Antonio lost the game, he had a career-high 26 points, 11 rebounds, 2 assists, and a block. 

Grade: D

Brandon Paul

After going undrafted in 2013, Paul has bounced around the G-League and played overseas. San Antonio took a flyer on the 27-year-old this offseason, and he made his NBA debut in October. Though many of his minutes were in garbage time, the fact that he played in 63 games on such a guard-heavy team is impressive. 

Though Paul started off the season well, including a career-high 18 points, his production plummeted halfway through November -- he only averaged 1.6 points per game from November through April 11th. As the Spurs began to fight for a playoff spot, Paul fell out of the rotation and did not appear in the last 18 games of the season.

Grade: C-

Kawhi Leonard

We all know the story. Leonard has a mysterious quad injury that has prevented him from playing in all but nine games this season. Rumors and drama have been flying around him all season, and it's impossible to determine what the truth is at this point. We're not going to waste time going into the details since Spurs fans have heard almost nothing else this season. 

Even if it isn't his fault, Leonard came in drastically below expectations this year. Last season, he was third in MVP voting. This year, he played a grand total of 210 minutes the entire year and was unable to help his floundering team. He played pretty well in his nine appearances, but he was not the same player that dominated last year. All in all, Leonard's 2017-18 season was massively disappointing for everyone involved.

Grade: F

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