Popovich surprised everyone when he started Trey Lyles over Jakob Poeltl or Rudy Gay. People expecting him to be the 9th or 10th rotation man. But in just the first two games of the season, he gets his minutes. Trey Lyles responded well with an average of 5 points, 9 boards, and 1.5 assists.
Even he is not the top option of the San Antonio Spurs in the free agency. Lyles performed so far as the team needs him to play his role. The Spurs faced Marcus Morris Sr in the first game and balling out with his 26 points. While the other one who they gave up Davis Bertans can’t miss a shot in their last game against San Antonio. Trey Lyles doesn’t need to contribute like this every game. As a fifth option in the starting five, he just needs to keep playing his game and get defensive boards, giving space for LaMarcus Aldridge, an extra playmaker in the court and another option to take threes if needed.
Trey Lyles is a good talent that’s why he is a top 20 pick the year he was drafted. He was buried in the Nuggets bench for the last two seasons. So when free agency comes, with no other option they signed him with a 2 years contract. The second season is just a 1 million guarantee either it will be fully guaranteed when he played beyond expectations. With him, he can still give the Spurs bench best defense in the paint when they can keep Jakob Poeltl coming off the bench. Which the Spurs limited in big man rotation last season played a big factor in a loss against the Nuggets in a playoff.
The San Antonio Spurs also made similar rotation last season when they started Dante Cunningham from the start. But the season goes far, they relegated him on the bench. While Lyles is much younger, athletic and mobile 6’10 forward he seems perfect in the current Spurs. From the past, San Antonio had Malik Rose, Will Perdue, Kevin Willis, Boris Diaw, and Matt Bonner to help win the titles.
Although Lyles is not like Rose who is an athletic enforcer or Boris Diaw that excelled being a playmaker. His willingness to play in this role could make him his breakout season or start of his success. Standing 6’10 with quick feet like a small guard that can use to attack the ball when he is outside the paint.
He could be another great story for the Spurs if he continues to get his minutes. The small sample size that he is showing now proves that he can be on another level if given he’s in the court.