The Spurs Continue to Look the Part

Apr 06, 2012 13 Comments

Once again, Tim Duncan and Tony Parker have the Spurs among the NBA elite. Photo by: The Brit_2

Before the shortened NBA season tipped off, you could probably count the number of teams who realistically had a chance of winning the NBA title on one hand.  Consequently, the San Antonio Spurs probably weren’t one of those teams.  Franchises like the Miami Heat, Oklahoma City Thunder, and Chicago Bulls seemed to be the favorites heading into the season.  This likely had more to do with the Spurs perceived “wear and tear”, as opposed to their proven track record under head coach Greg Popovich.  It’s hard to believe that a team fresh off a 61 win season just a year ago would have so many doubters.  More than likely, those doubters probably highlighted the age of the Spurs main three (as well as growing injury concerns) as their determining factor in how the Spurs would finish in 2011-12.

The sentiment among those close to the league was pretty common; this would be the year where the Spurs finally took a step back.  After all, the Spurs nucleus wasn’t getting any younger.  Tim Duncan (age 35), Manu Ginobili (34), and Tony Parker (29) have all battled some type of significant injury the last couple of seasons.  Furthermore, since the 2000 season, the Spurs post season success has required the trio to log heavy minutes in meaningful playoff affairs.  Since 2000, Duncan, Ginobili, and Parker have appeared in a total of 436 post season games.  Each has averaged over 30 minutes per game during those playoff games (39.5-Duncan, 36.3-Parker, 31.4 Ginobili).  Bottom line, the Spurs would need to start relying on new faces, as well as their reliable 3, to continue playing at the ultra high level everyone has grown accustom during the Popovich era.

Gary Neal might be the most important player off the Spurs bench. Photo by: Keith Allison

Although much of the Spurs success this season has still revolved around Duncan, Parker, and to a lesser extent Ginobili, Popovich has called upon his younger players to help continue the Spurs winning ways.  DeJuan Blair, Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, Gary Neal, and Tiago Splitter each have less than three full years experience in the league (Leonard is a rookie).  However, each has earned significant minutes within Popovich’s rotation this season.  Neal has developed into one the Spurs most trusted scoring options off the bench.  He has scored in double figures in 22 games this season.  Blair, who has started every game this season, is averaging career high in minutes (21.5) and points per game (9.6).  Green has evolved in the Spurs system since joining the team last season.  He has appeared in every game this season (started 24), and has scored double figures in 6 of the Spurs last 9 games (8.7 season average).  Splitter has provided much needed front court depth for the Spurs (has scored in double figures 25 times).  Aside from his polished international skills, his biggest asset to the Spurs may be his ability to spell Tim Duncan for extended minutes during a game.  At just 20 years old, Leonard appears to be destined for greatness in the league.  He is an extremely athletic wing player who already possesses a defensive mentality while on the court.  His offensive efficiency has been an added bonus for the Spurs this season (shot at least 50% from the floor in 22 of the Spurs games this season).

Russell Westbrook and the Thunder may be the only team standing in the way of the Spurs out West. Photo by: Tiago Hammil

With the recent additions of Stephen Jackson and Boris Diaw, the Spurs now boast arguably the most depth in the league.  They currently have nine players averaging at least 20 minutes per game, as well nine points per contest (Duncan, Ginobili, Parker, Neal, Leonard, Jackson, Blair, Green, Splitter).  During the Spurs current nine game winning streak they are outscoring their opponents by an average of 12.2 points per game, all while shooting 48.4% from the field.  In all but one of those wins (Hornets), the Spurs have had at least 5 five players score in double figures.  In their last 10 games, the Spurs are out-rebounding their opponents by nearly eight boards per game (46.2-Spurs vs. 38.5-Opponents).  The Spurs currently have the best record in the league versus teams with at least .500 or more winning percentage (21-9).

So here we are, more than three quarters into the NBA season and the Spurs are once again one of the elite teams within the league.  I would be lying if I told you that I expected Popovich to have the Spurs challenging for an NBA title this season.  However, as the Spurs try to win their 10th consecutive game tonight, they look every bit the part of a title contender.  Do yourself a favor and count the teams that have a realistic chance of winning the NBA title this season.  If the Spurs aren’t on that shortlist, you haven’t been paying attention.

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13 Responses to “The Spurs Continue to Look the Part”

  1. Al aka tophatal says:

    The simple fact that , the younger players on this team have matured and are now showing a great deal more poise this season than they’d done last season .

  2. Tina@flourtrader says:

    Go spurs! I wonder if Popovich’s sons are aspiring or have already aspired to being basketball players. Of course, just having the know how of Popovich isn’t any guarantee, each player counts as a part of the winning machine. Enjoy your Easter weekend!

  3. Sportsgrinder says:

    The legend of Popovich certainly continues, especially after this impressive season.

  4. hotlyspiced says:

    Go the Spurs. I hope last night they enjoyed another win. Happy Easter! xx

  5. Liz says:

    Have a fabulous Easter weekend, Jed!!!

  6. Steven Jeffries says:

    As a guy originally from Dallas…you’d figure I’d be a…LAKER’S fan, which I am. However, the Spurs look better, the Clippers are better, the Mavs have “slipped” as have the Lakers.

    So what does all of this mean? I think them “Thunder” guys have a shot this year! It all makes sense, right?

    Have a great day, ya’ll…

  7. Sam's Sports Brief says:

    As much as I have an unprecedented amount of respect for the Gregg Popovich and the Spurs, I just cannot see them beating a young, energetic Thunder team in a seven-game series.

  8. sportsattitudes says:

    Every time I hear someone talking about the Spurs this season it is usually after they have “schooled” a team most would have expected to beat them. As it has happened with great frequency in 2012 I can only conclude they are indeed on the shortlist of teams who can actually get to the Finals. I haven’t seen much of them but there certainly is a lot of “buzz” about their chances. Popovich is a great coach – no doubt about it.

  9. 5 Best NBA Teams Heading Down the Stretch « Contrarian Fanatics says:

    […] The Spurs Continue to Look the Part ( […]

  10. Steven Jeffries says:

    Success in the NBA playoffs could come down to who has the best bench. The Heat look good, but there could be some surprises…

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