After a promising preseason, a finger injury appeared to rob the third-string big man of most of his production.
Welcome to the 2017-18 season player reviews, where we will be rehashing the performance of all 15 Spurs from this season (excluding two-way players Darrun Hilliard and Matt Costello) and looking towards the future. If you’ve missed any you can click here to catch up. Up next:
2017-18 stats: 4.1 points, 3.1 rebounds, 51.6 FG%
2017-2018 salary: $1.52 million
Contract: 1 year, $1.66 million remaining (player option)
With David Lee retiring and Dewayne Dedmon accepting a more lucrative contract elsewhere, the Spurs were in need of a third big on the cheap. Enter Lauvergne: a French teammate of Tony Parker’s who had been a journeyman in his first three NBA seasons but had a versatile game that seemed like it could work well in the Spurs system, especially for the minimum.
While he wasn’t what you would call a serious threat from beyond the arc (although he shot 35% from three the prior season with the Thunder), he could at least stretch the floor. He was also considered an above-average passer for his position and an energetic (if unspectacular) defender. During the preseason he looked the part of another Spurs steal, averaging 8 points, 6.5 rebounds and 3 assists in normal minutes.
However, once the regular season began it was mostly downhill for Lauvergne. He missed ten straight games early while dealing with a family matter, and thanks to a combination of his own shortcomings and the Spurs experimenting with small ball more often, he rarely got much time in non-rest games.
Some of those shortcomings — like his lack of an offensive touch away from the rim and trouble grabbing/holding onto the ball — could be attributed to a nasty dislocated finger suffered in December vs. OKC. If nothing else he showed he was one tough dude when it happened, unlike basically everyone else in the building (including Gregg Popovich):
All you need to know about the Joffrey Lauvergne finger injury can be told by the fan reaction when he goes to the bench
— Def Pen Hoops (@DefPenHoops) December 4, 2017
Joking aside, that finger took longer to heal than it should have and remained splinted for most of the season, which may have robbed him of much of his game. Still, he wasn’t the contributor he was signed to be (even at the minimum). It may be unfair if his finger is to blame, and he was tough to play through it, but there was a reason he got three out of five votes for LVP in the most recent In the Bonus.
With a player option, Lauvergne controls his own destiny. He has until June 29 to decide, and what the Spurs do in the draft a week before that may play a role in his decision. However, if I were him I’d opt in and hope he gets the chance to prove himself to them or someone else for the future.
Otherwise, there may not be a guaranteed spot for him in the league. With the ability to be a stretch-five being his main calling card among big men, hitting zero of five three-point attempts on the season won’t convince many to go after him this time around, at least not as anything more than cap filler.
If he does return to San Antonio, he’ll need to prove he’s good enough to earn consistent minutes, even if he just stays around the rim in a more traditional center role. Similar numbers to his days in Denver or OKC would go along way towards securing an NBA career, wherever that may be.
Feb. 13 vs. Nuggets: 26 points, 11 rebounds, 2 assists
Final Grade: D+
Up next: Tony Parker
Source: Pounding The Rock