It was not too long ago when the San Antonio Spurs last made the NBA playoffs.
However, they lost to the Denver Nuggets in a seven-game first-round series.
This season marked the 22nd consecutive year that head coach Gregg Popovich led his team to a postseason stint.
Other teams are trying to emulate that model of consistency, especially after the Spurs won five championships during that stretch.
But at present, even San Antonio is longing for those times.
While they’re not the worst team in the league, they are starting to feel the adverse effects of their sustained success.
Can Popovich Win With This Roster?
The Spurs have the enviable ability to find players regardless of their draft position.
They mix those prospects with free-agent acquisitions to build a competitive roster.
Then and now, Popovich ascribes to the whole being better than its parts.
Dejounte Murray was clutch as the Spurs snapped the Warriors win streak of 11 straight home games: 23 PTS, 12 REB, 7 AST, 2 STL
He's averaging 20.4 PTS, 9.8 REB, 8.8 AST, 2 STL over his last 9 games. pic.twitter.com/PaOGL3420o
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) December 5, 2021
While he has individually talented players, playing as one unit makes them dangerous.
That comparison doesn’t mean the current Spurs won’t achieve anything.
But the late draft picks might be finally taking their toll on their long-term goals.
San Antonio is on a good run as of late, winning four of their last five games.
It's been a historic road trip for the squad 👀
— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) December 7, 2021
Their only defeat was a four-point setback against the streaking Phoenix Suns.
Such a result indicates that they can match-up with the better teams.
Yet even with that win streak, the Spurs are still six games below .500.
Before their recent success, the Milwaukee Bucks were the only team with a winning record they’ve defeated.
Spurs fall to the Suns 104-108 pic.twitter.com/VIL9A9hJwD
— Pounding the Rock (@poundingtherock) December 7, 2021
They started the season at 4-13 and had losing streaks of four and six games.
However, an upcoming five-game homestand can bring them back in contention for a Western Conference playoff ticket.
The Growing Pains Continue
But for all the misery San Antonio absorbed to start the season, there are signs that the team is trending toward the right direction.
They’ve let go of their older players, making the current Spurs more of a reclamation project than a polished unit.
As of writing, no player on their active roster is above 30 years old.
Yet somehow, any one of them is capable of having a big game.
— NBA (@NBA) December 5, 2021
Despite the versatility of their squad, Popovich needs to impart more wisdom to his young team.
They have what it takes to secure a fringe playoff spot and possibly peak during the postseason.
That possibility is all wishful thinking right now because the West remains loaded.
The Spurs pick up their first back-to-back wins of the season as they stifle Washington.
San Antonio is now 5-1 when they hold their opponents under 100 points this season.
— Noah Magaro-George (@N_Magaro) November 30, 2021
But it would be better for the Spurs to maintain their current roster.
Their intriguing players may have caught the eye of other teams.
Though those transactions may help speed up their rebuild, they have a chance of returning to their glory days by retaining their squad.