SAN ANTONIO – Most NBA players go on vacation after the grind of an 82-game regular season and the playoffs that follow.
Not Spurs guard Bryn Forbes. He never stopped working last season after the Silver and Black were eliminated by NBA champion Golden State in the first round of the playoffs.
Instead of traveling to some exotic destination and unwinding at a five-star resort, Forbes headed to the gym to start a grueling workout regimen tailored to get him stronger, faster and quicker.
“It’s helped a lot defensively,” Forbes said. “Offensively, it doesn’t change much. But defensively, I’m quicker, stronger. It just makes it a lot easier.”
Forbes, preparing for his third NBA season, will be on the court Sunday when the Spurs host the Houston Rockets in their third preseason game. Tipoff is at 3 p.m.
The Silver and Black are coming off a 117-93 rout of the Detroit Pistons on Friday night at the AT&T Center. All 19 players on the San Antonio roster scored, but the win proved costly after rookie guard Lonnie Walker IV, the Spurs’ first-round pick in this summer’s draft, injured a knee with 6:55 left.
An MRI on Saturday revealed a medial meniscus tear in Walker’s right knee. He will have surgery Monday in San Antonio and is expected to be sidelined six to eight weeks, according to reports.
Walker, Forbes and guard Derrick White are promising players who have infused the Spurs with youthful exuberance and enthusiasm in training camp.
“It feels like a fresh start, you know?” Forbes said. “There’s a lot of young guys that want to compete and get better. It’s been enjoyable for me. I think everybody here has had a good time.”
Knowing that playing good defense is the best way to get more playing time in coach Gregg Popovich’s system, Forbes was driven to improve that aspect of his game.
Forbes, who turned 25 in July, packed on nearly 10 pounds of muscle in the offseason after working out four to five times a week. When he wasn’t in the weight room, Forbes ran hills or on sand to improve his overall aerobic conditioning and stamina.
The work Forbes, who is 6-foot-3 and 190 pounds, put in is noticeable in his chiseled appearance. But Forbes’ commitment to self-improvement extended beyond the gym.
“I’ve tried to change a lot, honestly, especially like my diet and my sleeping,” Forbes said. “I’m trying to maximize my recovery and all those things so I can stay strong, because last year (season) toward the end of the year, I got fatigued a lot. Especially toward the end of the year, I started slowing down a lot. This year, I’m looking to keep it where I’m at or even get better.”
A Michigan State alum, Forbes started his NBA career with the Spurs as a free agent in 2016. He has played in 116 games the past two seasons, averaging 5.6 points, 1.1 rebounds and 15.5 minutes. Forbes played 19 games with the Spurs’ G League affiliate, the Austin Spurs, as a rookie, earning Popovich’s respect for his willingness to keep working on his game.
Already one of the Spurs’ best shooters, Forbes started 12 of the 80 games he played in last season. He averaged 6.9 points, 1.4 rebounds and 1.0 assist.
“He’s improved every year,” Popovich said. “He has developed playing in the G League and he did get stronger. He’s working very hard on defense to try to earn some minutes, and everyone knows he’s a good shooter, so he’s done well.”
Asked how much he thinks he’s improved defensively since his first workout with the Spurs, Forbes said: “Aw, man, tenfold, tenfold, like 100 percent difference on defense. When I first got here, I didn’t have my body where I wanted it to be.
“Some of the (Spurs’ defensive) principles, I didn’t have down pat. Now, I’ve studied a lot and I’ve worked on my body, so it’s just become more second nature now.”
Forbes attributes his improvement as a defender to his demanding workout program in the offseason.
“Personally, for me, the biggest thing that helped was changing my body,” Forbes said. “My body fat went down, my weight went up. I put on all muscle, got a lot faster. It just made it a lot easier because you’re playing against the best athletes in the world, so if you can’t keep up physically, no matter how bad you want to play defense, it’s going to be tough.”
Veteran guard Patty Mills has been impressed with Forbes' steady development.
“Obviously, being here for a couple years now and getting some game and practice reps under him and getting comfortable, he’s come a long way for sure,” Mills said. “Obviously, physically, mentally, but just understanding the game, understanding the system what people expect out of him in this environment.
“I think the best thing about him is his willingness to learn from people. And then put that into play is huge. He’s been great young guy. Great rookie, second year and coming into this year now, you can see all that hard work paying off."