SAN ANTONIO — Spurs center Jakob Poeltl will be entering the 2021-22 regular season looking to fill a much-needed leadership void left by veterans DeMar DeRozan, Patty Mills and Rudy Gay.
The Spurs will enter the new season set to embark on a youth movement.
Keldon Johnson, Devin Vassell, and Lonnie Walker IV will be among the young players set to be the focal point of the team's rebuild with Poeltl embracing a leadership role.
Speaking with Austria's APA, Poeltl acknowledges the team will have to look to Derrick White, Dejounte Murray (the team's longest-tenured player) and himself for guidance next season.
"We have lost some of our leading players both in the locker room and top performers on the court. The next generation will now have to move up even more," said Poeltl.
Poeltl will be entering his sixth NBA season. By that standard, he will be among the few players on the roster with six or more seasons including Bryn Forbes, Doug McDermott, and currently Thaddeus Young and Al-Farouq Aminu.
Should Young and Aminu not be on the team's roster come opening night, then Poeltl will need to be a steady hand as a veteran player on a young Spurs squad.
"We have to take another step to lead a team as leaders," Poeltl.
Poeltl says the team doesn't have to face any pressure next season which will lend to the team having room to develop.
However, he feels the team is good enough for a playoff push or to make the play-in game next season.
"The good thing is that we can go in with relatively little pressure," Poeltl said. "I still think we have what it takes to play in the playoffs or the play-in tournament."
Aside from embracing a leadership role, the Spurs center also believes he will take a step forward on the offensive end.
Last season, he averaged a career-high 8.6 points per game. He says the team's coaching staff have talked with him about doing more on the offensive end of the floor.
And he is hoping that will come to fruition.
"We saw the beginning last year, but it will hopefully happen more and more now," said Poeltl.
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