2017-18 San Antonio Spurs Player Grades: Part 2

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

In the second part of our San Antonio Spurs Player Grades, we'll asses the performances of the players with the mid-level minute totals. This group includes both young prospects and the golden oldies. You can find the part one of the series here.

The grading scale is pretty simple: Each player is assessed based on what was generally expected of 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 did 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.

Tony Parker

Overcoming a severe quad injury at 35 years of age is no easy task. After returning in November, it was obvious that the injury and age had taken a toll on Parker’s body. Once it became clear that Parker was not going to work out of this one, Gregg Popovich made the difficult decision to move him to the bench for the first time since his rookie season. Luckily, Parker was very mature about the situation, and there was a peaceful passing of the torch from him to sophomore Dejounte Murray.

Parker averaged career lows across the board: 7.7 points, 3.5 assists, and 1.7 rebounds per game. In addition, his effective field goal percentage of 47.2 percent was the lowest since his rookie year. Per Cleaning the Glass, the Spurs scored 1.3 fewer points per possession when he was on the floor. At the same time, their opponents averaged 4.3 more points per possession during this time.

No one expected Parker to do great things returning from a serious injury at his age. However, his steep decline was still alarming, and sometimes even painful to watch. Though his veteran experience and intelligence was undeniably valuable to this team, his dramatic decrease in playing ability prevents him from earning a higher grade.

Grade: D+

Davis Bertans

On the surface, Bertans’ 5.9 points, 2 rebounds, and 1 assist per game looks pretty unimpressive. However, it’s worth noting that he scored 10.7 points per game when he played 20 minutes. In addition, he improved his defense this year by fully utilizing his length. His turnover ration dropped from 12.1 percent last year to 9.4 this year. At the same time, his assist percentage increased by two percent.

In addition, he showed flashes of greatness in a few games. One such game came in January when he scored a career-high 28 points along with 3 assists, 2 blocks, and no turnovers in 31 minutes. The Spurs triumphed over the Sacramento Kings that night due in large Bertans's play.

While Bertans didn’t exactly light it up this year, he took a definite step towards becoming a consistent role player. His increased confidence and defensive skills were valuable to the Spurs, though they could've used a bit more point production from him.

Grade: C+

Rudy Gay

The Spurs signed Gay in the offseason to be the third option behind Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge. After the former missed the majority of the season, Gay had to take on a much greater load than anticipated. Despite an expected dip in production coming off an Achilles injury, he managed to step up to the plate admirably.

Taken alone, 11.5 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 1.3 assists don’t sound all that impactful. However, the floor spacing and additional scoring that Gay provided were immensely valuable to the Spurs. San Antonio had a strong enough defensive presence to make up for his shortcomings on that end, allowing him to bolster the Spurs’ heavily depleted offense. He relieved some of the tremendous pressure on Aldridge’s shoulders, and it showed in the win/loss column.

Gay missed 23 games this season due to a heel injury. During that time, the Spurs won just 44 percent of their games. When Gay played this season, they won 63 percent of their games. Had Gay not missed time due to injury, the Spurs may have won 50 or more games this season.

Grade: B+

Bryn Forbes

Forbes’ sophomore season was uneventful. In a way, this is positive. Though he’s not the sort of guy that can be depended on to get you ten points every game, his performances became more consistent than in his rookie season. As he played more minutes per game, he seemed to find a rhythm and improved his effective field goal percentage to 51 percent.

His defensive effort was also very strong. It’s not flashy or full of steals, but he manages to get to the right place at the right time. In fact, according to Synergy, he gave up just .849 points per possession. This is better than 80 percent of other NBA players. He was especially good at defending pick and rolls, which is a crucial skill in the modern NBA.

Through his more consistent offense and strong defense, Forbes has had a positive impact on the Spurs this year. If he can add some stronger passing to his game and take a higher volume of shots, Forbes could develop into a solid role player.

Grade: B

Manu Ginobili

At 40-years-old, Ginobili still managed to play 20 minutes a game for a legitimate playoff team. And these weren’t just empty minutes. He averaged 9 points, 2.5 assists, and 2.2 rebounds per game. Ginobili had an effective field goal percentage fo 51.3, which put him in the top half of guards. In addition, he scored 113 points on 100 shot attempts, a feat that put him in the 69th percentile among other guards.

These numbers don’t tell the whole story, though. His play this season was inspiring to his teammates and heartwarming for fans. He made plays that would be challenging for a player in his prime, let alone a 40-year-old.

Perhaps the greatest moment of his 2017-18 season came in Game 4 of the Spurs’ series against the Golden State Warriors. San Antonio was down 3-0 and missing Coach Pop, who was away from the team grieving after the tragic death of his wife. The Spurs needed a hero, so of course, it was Ginobili who stepped up to the plate. He scored 10 points in the last six minutes, including the last 5 points of the game. Through his 16 points, 5 assists, and 3 rebounds, he secured victory for the Spurs.


Grade: A

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