We’re are winding things down here on the Sports Script’s NBA preview, and now we’re entering the territory of legitimate NBA Championship contender. These last four are the cream of the NBA crop. Yesterday I covered the Brooklyn Nets and what they brought to the NBA table, so make sure to give that a read along with the long list of teams done prior to today. Today we have the team that Father Time forgot. They compete every year despite people always claiming that this is the year old age will do them in. I have no reason to believe that this will be the year after they made it to the NBA finals last year, so let’s cover the San Antonio Spurs.
Key Additions: Marco Belinelli (Signed via Bulls) Jeff Pendergraph/Aryes (Signed via Pacers) Deshaun Thomas (Draft)
Oh the Spurs. Just when you think that time has caught up with this bunch, they go and get within a rebound of an NBA Championship, and while they didn’t have the most exciting offseason like some of the other Western Conference teams, they had a solid one, and let’s face it, when you’re the Spurs, you don’t need to make massive moves to stay a contender. They did add the perfect “Spurs type” player in Marco Belinelli who will add some great outside shooting touch, especially with Gary Neal and his heatcheck ways in Milwaukee playing for the Bucks. Jeff Pendergraph, or as he’s now known apparently, Jeff Aryes, provides some decent backup depth for the front court, another necessary move with DeJuan Blair in Dallas playing for the interstate rival Mavericks. They also brought in DeShaun Thomas through the draft in the late second round, which might end up becoming a massive steal, as Thomas is a very capable scorer all over the court, and can provide good shooting when the Spurs call on him. Other than that, just some key resignings to players like Manu Ginobili and Tiago Splitter, and that’s all that happened in San Antonio. Pretty unexciting hey? Oh well, they always get the job done so you can’t argue with it.
The Spurs starting lineup is no different from last year, and should be a great unit again this year. Tony Parker has cemented a spot as one of the top five to six point guards in the league with his play through the playoffs and finals, and should continue to be the best player on the team, yes even above that one guy named Tim Duncan. Danny Green really came into his own last finals with his incredible shooting stroke, the same ability that absolutely killed the Heat through the first few games of the series, and had he stayed hot, would’ve won them an NBA title. Kawhi Leonard, he is the man crush of all statisticians, and hoop junkies (including myself) all around North America. This guy has potential in bundles. He can shoot a high percentage, handle the basketball fairly well, slash to the rim with his big, long body, one of the best defenders in the NBA, and noted LeBron stopper, and just all around gets you very excited as to what he can do if he stays healthy all year. Leonard brings some wow factor to this team, and he might be the most important player on the court for the Spurs this year. Tiago Splitter is a very nice, serviceable player for the Spurs. He brings good defense and good rebounding, and just all around fits the mould of what you would expect out of a Spurs role player. He got exposed offensively last finals, but he should bounce back and play at the pretty nice level that he did all regular season last year. Tim Duncan is always an important cog, and while he might still be one of the best power forwards in the league, even though he’s playing at center I still consider him a power forward, he’s not as important as Leonard or Parker this year. That’s why I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw him take a lot of the year off, in anticipation of the playoffs so he can go all out then. But we all know what arguably the best power forward of all time brings to the table so I won’t waste your time, just know that this guy will be at his very best when the playoffs roll around for the Spurs.
The Spurs are once again contenders for that Larry O’Brien trophy this year, and even though they had a heartbreaking loss in the finals, that at least proved to the rest of the NBA world that they could still hang despite their age. While some will predict that this is the year the age factor really kills them, I just wouldn’t bet on it. Gregg Popovich is the best in the NBA at what he does, and he won’t let something as petty as “age” ruin his chance at a fifth NBA championship.
Final Prediction: 56-26, 2nd Western Conference