San Antonio Spurs

2018-19 NBA Season Preview: What to expect from the San Antonio Spurs

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DeMar DeRozan (NBA Getty Images)

With the 2018-19 NBA season quickly approaching, we're rolling out 30 Teams in 30 Days. Between now and opening night, we're dedicating one day to each team in the league.

After looking at the four other teams in the Northwest Division, here's everything you need to know about the San Antonio Spurs heading into the season.

2017-18 season record

47-35 (No. 7 seed in the Western Conference)

Projected 2018-19 season record

43.5 (No. 9 seed in the Western Conference)

Notable additions

DeMar DeRozan (trade)

Jakob Poeltl (trade)

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Sure Not Now

Marco Belinelli (free agent)

Dante Cunningham (free agent)

Lonnie Walker (18th pick in 2018 NBA Draft)

Notable departures

Kawhi Leonard (trade)

Danny Green (trade)

Tony Parker (free agent)

Kyle Anderson (free agent)

3 key storylines

The 1-2 punch of DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge

For the first time in his NBA career, DeRozan won't be wearing a Toronto Raptors jersey this season.

In his nine memorable years in Toronto, DeRozan developed into a four-time All-Star and an MVP candidate. Even though his run of All-Star appearances might be put on hold now that he's in the Western Conference, he should feel right at home in Gregg Popovich's system and fit in well with Aldridge, who led the Spurs in scoring last season.

As unconventional as San Antonio's offence will be with Aldridge and DeRozan leading the way - the Spurs now have two ball dominant players who are at their best from midrange - they have more than enough firepower to keep the franchise's postseason streak alive.

Will San Antonio's defence suffer?

The Spurs have ranked in the top-10 in defensive efficiency in each of the last six seasons.

They even had a top-5 defence in 2017-18 despite Kawhi Leonard, a two-time Defensive Player of the Year and a three-time member of the All-Defensive First Team, missing basically the entire season.

San Antonio's prolonged success on that end of the court is a testament to Popovich's system and the defensive-minded players the franchise has acquired throughout the years, though the makeup of the team will be slightly different this season with DeMar DeRozan and Marco Belinelli replacing Kawhi, Danny Green and Kyle Anderson in the backcourt.

Will the Spurs continue to slow teams down at one of the highest rates in the league or is this the year their streak snaps?

The development of Dejounte Murray

Popovich promoted Murray into the starting lineup last season, but the training wheels are off now that Tony Parker is no longer in San Antonio.

Considering he's the youngest player in NBA history to make an All-Defensive Team, Murray will be fine defensively. It's on offence that will determine how much success he'll have as a starting point guard moving forward.

MORE: Murray's quest to become San Antonio's next star

Having made only 57 shots outside the paint last season - the bulk of which came from midrange - Murray will have to expand his range in order to thrive next to DeRozan and Aldridge.

5 games to watch

Oct. 20 vs. Portland Trail Blazers

Every matchup with teams expected to be in the playoff bubble - even early season ones - will be important for the Spurs. This will also serve as an opportunity to see LaMarcus Aldridge play against his former team for the 11th time since moving to San Antonio. Aldridge is currently 7-3 against the Blazers in his career.

Dec. 21 vs. Minnesota Timberwolves

The Timberwolves are the team projected to finish with the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference this season, one spot ahead of the Spurs. This will be one of four meetings between the two in 2018-19, with each one likely to have huge playoff implications.

Jan. 3 vs. Toronto Raptors

You won't want to miss Kawhi Leonard's return to San Antonio. Leonard won a Finals MVP, a championship and two Defensive Player of the Year awards as a member of the Spurs, but the two sides didn't exactly part ways on the best of terms. Expect there to be mixed feelings in the AT&T Center on this night.

Feb. 22 vs. Toronto Raptors

DeMar DeRozan's first game back in Toronto, on the other hand, will almost certainly be an emotional one. The franchise's all-time leader in games played and points scored - among a number of other records - DeRozan was reportedly heartbroken and blindsided when the Raptors traded him this offseason.

March 26 vs. Charlotte Hornets

One of the greatest Spurs of all-time comes back to the place he called home for 18 years. Tony Parker was a six-time All-Star, four-time champion and one-time Finals MVP during his time in San Antonio.

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