UA-59049186-1 NBA Team Preview: San Antonio Spurs - Good if it Goes

NBA Team Preview: San Antonio Spurs

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Offseason

Draft Picks: 29. SG. Dejounte Murray

Key Acquisitions: PF. Pau Gasol, PF. David Lee, C. Dewayne Dedmon,

Key Losses: C. Tim Duncan, PF. David West, PF. Boris Diaw

Player Profiles

Projected Lineup:

PG. Tony Parker: 6’2, 185

  • Declining Hall-of-Fame PG whose age and injury history is starting to catch up to him
  • Thrives as a PnR player, loves to pull up from mid-range. Also still a very effective finisher at the rim. Reliable 3 point shooter but % could be misleading due to low volume.
  • Declining physical attributes makes it tougher for him to handle top PG assignments but he contributes on defense and executes the game plan.

SG. Danny Green: 6’6, 215

  • 3 and D specialist in danger of losing the “3” label if he doesn’t start shooting better
  • Spot up 3 point shooter who shockingly struggled (by his standards) from 3 last year.
  • Elite perimeter defender that can guard 3 positions.

SF. Kawhi Leonard: 6’7, 230

  • 2-way superstar that absolutely thrives at both ends of the court.
  • Arguably the best defensive player in the NBA, Utilizes long arms, big hands, terrific instincts and superb lateral quickness to shut down perimeter players.
  • Breakout offensive star that proved he can carry an offense. Does a little of everything: he can shoot 3s, post up, run PnR or score off the ball as a slasher or shooter.

PF. Lamarcus Aldridge: 6’11, 260

  • Highly-skilled offensive big man that thrives in the mid-range area.
  • Good defender that utilizes his length and intelligence to be effective on that end of the floor.
  • Good defensive rebounder and has some ability to protect rim

C. Pau Gasol: 7’0, 250

  • Very skilled offensive big man. Elite passing big, fabulous foot work in the post, and is a good shooter with range out to the 3 point line.
  • Good interior defender, utilizes long frame to protect the rim, contest shots in the low post and is an elite defensive rebounder.
  • Slow-footed big that lacks ability to move laterally which limits him defensively.

Bench

SG. Manu Ginobi: 6’6, 205

  • Lefty Argentinean 2 guard whose Hall-of-Fame career is rapidly dwindling down.
  • Elite secondary playmaker and passer that simply has amazing vision and instincts. Crafty scorer that can still find a way to maneuver his way into the paint or into a trip to the line.
  • Declining on-ball defender but still effective overall on that end due to his high basketball IQ and high steal rate.

PG. Patty Mills: 6’0, 185

  • Shoot first backup PG with in the gym range.
  • He’s not a traditional PG but he does play within the offense, move the ball and makes the right plays but his best trait is his 3 point shooting. He’s capable of taking and making 3 well beyond the line.
  • Below average defender who’s undersized without much athletic ability.

SF. Kyle Anderson: 6’9, 230

  • Position-less forward with an all-around game that comes to play on both ends.
  • Offensively he doesn’t have a lot of confidence in his 3 point shot but he’s money from mid-range and close. He can even shoot off the dribble in those ares. His best asset is his passing ability and he seems to just be an overall smart basketball player.
  • Somehow despite a lack of athleticism and quickness or great size the guy is a very good defender. He has a high basketball IQ, plays with a ton of effort and has active hands all of which allow him to overachieve on defense.

PF. David Lee: 6’9, 245

  • Short below the rim big man who’s transitioning to the end of his career while still being very effective in limited minutes off the bench.
  • Offensively he can score as a 10 and in guy who can finish around the basket. His best traits on offense are his passing and exceptional work on the offensive glass.
  • Despite his stature and lack of athletic ability Lee is an above average defensive player that gets it done with tough smart positional defense.

C. Dewayne Dedmon: 7’0, 245

  • Backup center who’s primary role is to defend and rebound and he’s good at what he does.
  • Doesn’t get any plays called for him but he can contribute as a roll guy and has an improving mid-range game. He’s a good offensive rebounder and can get opportunities for himself that way.
  • Good defensive center that offers tough interior defense, shot blocking and outstanding defensive rebounding.

SG. Jonathon Simmons: 6’6, 195

  • Young high energy athletic slashing wing.
  • Offensively he’s at his best in transition where he can utilize his athleticism in the open court. He contributes in the half-court as both a 3 point shooter and slasher who finishes at the rim at a good rate.
  • He’s an average defender that has shown flashes of being more. Though he’s 27 last year was his first real NBA season so he’s still learning.

PG. Dejounte Murray: 6’5, 170

  • Rookie scoring combo guard with electric ball handling skills
  • His best ability is his scoring ability. He can create space and get off his shot or get to the rim. There are major concerns about his ability to really play PG because of his decision making and though he’s a capable shooter he’s very streaky.
  • Has the tools to play defense with solid quickness and a 6’9 wing span but he’s awfully thin and if he can’t play PG defending on the wing could be an issue when dealing with bigger players.

C. Joel Anthony: 6’9, 245

  • Undersized defensive minded center that brings no value to the offensive end.
  • Highly ineffective offensive player that struggles to have any significant impact on that end.
  •  He’s still able to make NBA rosters because of his tough interior defense and elite shot blocking.

 

Breakdown

The Spurs enter a season without Tim Duncan in the starting 5 for the first time in almost 2 decades. The team’s greatest player in franchise history decided to call it a career leaving a big hole to fill in the middle of the front line. The Spurs found another future hall of famer to do it in Pau Gasol who comes over from the Bulls to be the starting center. He’s a significant upgrade over what Duncan was able to do last year offensively and honestly isn’t a huge drop off defensively. Yes its true Duncan spent a large portion of the regular season playing defense at an elite level. But he was no longer capable of doing for extended minutes and by the time the playoffs rolled around he really wasn’t defending at an elite level even in limited minutes anymore. So taking all of that in account a guy in Gasol, who can still play 30 minutes a night and register the 15th highest defensive plus/minus grade in the league, isn’t much of a drop off in my book. Lamarcus Aldridge and Kawhi Leonard return as the starting forwards and figure to play the same roles as they did last year as the best two players on this team and the new faces of this franchise. Leonard is an elite player that took his game to a super star level last year and there still could be room for more growth as he has improved every year of his career up to this point. Aldridge is at his peak at this point but it’s a pretty good place to be. He’s one of the top 3 players at his position and being in San Antonio has him defending at a high level once again after a few down years in Portland on that end of the floor. The Spurs backcourt is where the question marks lye. Parker is another year older and Danny Green seemingly forgot how to shoot last season.  Green counteracted his inconsistent shooting and worst offensive season of his career by becoming an elite defender and having the best year of his career on that end which allowed him to stay on the floor. If Green can play at the level he did on offense in 2014 and the level he played on defense in 2015 then the Spurs would all of sudden have perhaps a top 10 SG on their hands. As for Parker we know his best days are behind him they just need him to stay healthy more than anything else because even on the decline when healthy he’s still a very good PG.

The Spurs bench as always is loaded as they again have a roster filled with guys who can contribute something to the team. I expect Ginobili to be a key contributor in the playoffs off the bench but during the regular season I think coach Greg Poppavich might opt to use him less than he ever has and give the younger more athletic Jonathan Simmons more minutes. With Manu playing less minutes that will open the door for Patty Mills to assume the role of 6th man off the bench. He’s qualified to come in and provide that instant scoring punch with his shooting. David Lee will be the top big off the bench and if he plays anything like he did a year ago in Dallas where he posted a 24 PER the Spurs will be in great shape when Aldridge and Gasol are resting. Dewayne Deadmon is another new big man the Spurs will look to deploy off the bench who will bring toughness on the boards and shot blocking. Kyle Anderson is the wildcard among the group. He’s capable of playing four different positions and could have a Boris Diaw like impact with his versatile skill set.

Expectations

The Spurs are so good and so loaded that even with more drop off from Parker and Green not shooting well they’d still win 60 games but if they have any hopes of competing with the Warriors they need Parker to play at a high level and they need Green to start making 40% of his 3s again. Even if they get those things it’s still a long shot that they could beat the Warriors but they could certainly make things interesting. In the end this team will obviously make the playoffs like the they do every year and I fully expect them to be in the Western Conference finals. But with this team, it’s all about championships and with a juggernaut like the Warriors in the way, I just don’t see them capturing another one this season.

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