Gary Neal followed up a breakout season with a fairly identical season this year for the San Antonio Spurs and enters this year as the back-up point guard.
Neal’s Value to the Spurs: Let’s start with the good. For starters, Neal can shoot, really well. He’s also able to create his own shots and doesn’t need much space in between and his defender to get a shot off. The Spurs’ offense thrived with Neal at point guard . He became particularly adept at finding his big-man in pick-and-roll sets. The best part about Neal’s game is that he has no conscience. It doesn’t matter whether he misses six shots in row, he believes the next shot is going in which is why Neal is often relied upon to hit timely and clutch shots.
Neal’s Weaknesses: Now for the bad, defensively, Neal is atrocious. He was one of the worst point guards on defense in the NBA, opposing point guards posted a 21.1 PER with Neal on the court. While he has quality size for the position, he lacks the quickness to stay in front of all but the slowest pint guards. On offense, though the Spurs scored while he was at the helm, but he’s a below average ball handler and passer for the position. Eventually, Neal became a liability at both ends of the court.
What to expect: Neal is over qualified to be a third string shooting guard, but with Danny Green, Manu Ginobili ahead of him in the rotation, that’s where he would end up on the depth chart. And the only way he’ll get minutes will be at back-up point guard, but Neal operates much better off the ball. At this point, Neal is more of a luxury than a necessity and it wouldn’t surprise me to see Neal included in some sort of trade later in the season.