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NBA 2015-16 Team Previews: San Antonio Spurs – Master Class

By Tamberlyn Richardson
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San Antonio Spurs

Our NBA 2015-16 Team Previews continues with Houston Rockets and their Southwest Division opponents. Next up the San Antonio Spurs:

Record:  (55-27) 6th in the Western Conference, 3rd in Southwest Division, Lost Game 7 in first round of playoffs to Los Angeles Clippers

Rank: Offense: 106.2 (7)   Defense: 99.6 (3) Differential/Net: plus +6.6 (3) Pace: 95.9 (17)

2014-15

Key Stats:

  • It probably doesn’t come as much of a surprise the Spurs are in a class of their own even when it comes to stats; the Jazz were brilliant defensively, slow on pace but not great offensively. The Pelicans were adept offensively, slow on pace and terrible on defense and then there are the Spurs who were able to place in the 7 of both offense and defense and differential with a middle of the pack pace.
  • Go through the stats lists and look for a category the Spurs don’t rank 15th or better (and far more often in the top 5) and you’ll find just 2 categories: Offensive Rebounding (probably because they rarely miss) where they rank 27th and free throw attempts and makes (23rd/17th). Look a little closer and you’ll notice the best offensive teams also rank in the bottom half including Golden State and Atlanta.
  • Since the start of the 2009-10 season the Spurs have the highest winning percent in the NBA: 72.6%
  • Tim Duncan should make more history this season to moving up the list of All-Time NBA Scoring from 14th (25,974 points)  conceivably into the top 10 passing Houston Rockets’ big man Hakeem Olajuwon (26,946). He needs 974 points to reach that milestone and if he replicates last season’s scoring output of 13.9 points per game he should surpass The Dream in just under 70 games.

Off Season Moves

Key Areas Needing Addressing:

  • Bench Depth
  • Replacement of Exiting Players
  • Begin the Process of Integrating Youth to Replace Older Big 3

*Of note: It was a stretch to find 3 points for the Spurs areas to improve!

Draft:  Nikola Milutinov selected 26th in first round, Cady Lalanne selected 55th in second round

Player Additions/Players Re-Signed:

Players Exiting:

2015-16

Core Players:

Tony Parker, Danny Green , Kawhi Leonard, LaMarcus Aldridge, Tim Duncan

Key Reserves:

Patty Mills, Manu Ginobili, Boris Diaw, David West, Kyle Anderson

Outlook

Rising Star: Feels redundant to say Kawhi Leonard is a rising star, but he’s due for another step up the ladder this season as he continues the process of replacing one of the original Big 3. While he’s the best defender of last year’s Association, this year he’ll improve offensively as he continues his natural ascension.

On The Bubble: Seriously? I guess Tony Parker is someone who could be isolated in terms of his ability to stay healthy especially with the loss of guards Cory Joseph and Marco Bellinelli. If  heaven forbid Parker, Patty Mills and Manu Ginobili all suffered injuries at the same time it might be the only thing that could derail the Spurs from………….. not winning 50+ games. Honestly they are so deep at every position and coach Popovich and his staff do an amazing job of expediting the growth of their younger players to fill in when injuries occur.

X-Factor: David West left over $11 million dollars on the table to join the Spurs in his pursuit of the brass ring. While both Aldridge and West are more mid range friendly shooters West will offer solid production on both ends of the court and he’ll definitely up the toughness quota akin to what Bruce Bowen provided back in the day.

Best Case:   They win the West go to the finals and Timmy D beats LeBron for the fourth er third time.

Worst Case: They enter the playoffs clicking on all cylinders and then a series of injuries stops them and/or they run into the duo edged buzz saw with the brand name DuraWest.

Prediction: Though Portland is the team most adversely affected by losing Aldridge, initially it appeared even the Spurs had lost some depth in their L.A. recruitment as they lost front court players Aron Baynes  (Detroit) and traded Tiago Splitter  (Atlanta) as well as guards Cory Joseph (Toronto) and Marco Belinelli (Sacramento).

However if there was a team best poised to deal with losing depth it’s also the Spurs. In fact once Aldridge selected San Antonio it opened the flood gate for other players who also wanted to join them. This domino effect might never have occurred had it not been for the players who readily signed back like  Danny Green  who elected to sign for a steal of 4 years at $45 million, Duncan and Manu Ginobili. All three players accepted deals well below what they could ask for on the open market. But the deal which punctuated the draw of the Spurs was best exemplified via David West who left over$11 million on the table to sign a veteran’s minimum contract. .

And just when we started thinking okay well maybe coach Gregg Popovich would have to abandon his tendency to limit all his players to under 30 minutes a game due to the roster depth we found out why San Antonio is considered the bench mark for all franchises. Kyle Anderson showcased massive growth in the Summer League and bears a striking game resemblance to Boris Diaw in his talent. Further the MVP of the Vegas Championship game Jonathan Simmons who spent time in the D-League had many of us wondering if this year’s version of the Spurs might actually be their deepest team in franchise history.

With apologies to the Grizzlies, the Spurs more than any other club in the Association have a cemented identity and a style that wins. While many teams in the Association search for that intangible called chemistry it’s obvious this team from management right down to their water boys has mutual respect for one another. Case in point was Green’s comments about remaining with the Spurs as they are “his family”.

Furthermore the man who never ages Timmy D, and is quite simply the best power forward of his generation, will take on the role taught to him some 18 seasons ago by David Robinson as he passes the torch to Aldridge. Scanning the 18 seasons of Duncan’s tenure you’ll note only one has less than 50 wins: 1998-99 when they had 37 wins. But look a little closer and you’ll notice that was the strike season when just 50 games were played. When you consider the Toronto Raptors enter their 21st season still attempting to reach the elusive 50 -win mark it highlights why the Spurs are the Associations’ benchmark and the best franchise template of the 4 major sports.

The NBA is a league of trends with teams often trying to replicate winning franchise systems, the one team who you won’t find trying to duplicate others successes is San Antonio because as the adage goes: if it ain’t broke … don’t fix it.

San Antonio will win 50+ games, Pops will rest his core veterans and get the youth brigade experience while they gain confidence, they’ll go on an extended win streak which ends because he sits all his starters and they’ll get one of the top 3 seeds, possibly first, but I’m guessing second or third at worst.

Games versus the Houston Rockets

  • Christmas Day, December 25th: At Toyota Center in Houston
  • January 2nd: At AT&T Center in San Antonio
  • January 27th: At AT&T Center in San Antonio
  • February 27th: At Toyota Center in Houston

Fansided Affiliate Site:  Air Alamo

Make sure you catch up on our entire Team Preview Series, our Houston Rockets Player Profile Series as well as our SCS Round Table Sessions to help you get through the early season. Start your morning with SCS Rocket Science Daily and visit us throughout the day to keep abreast of all your Houston Rockets news and updates.

Next: Grizzlies Preview

Next: SCS Complete Round Table Sessions

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