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NBA 2016-17 Team Previews – San Antonio Spurs: Fundamental Shifts

By Tamberlyn Richardson
Oct 21, 2016; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs power forward LaMarcus Aldridge (12, left) and Kawhi Leonard (2, right) talk on the bench during the second half against the Houston Rockets at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 21, 2016; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs power forward LaMarcus Aldridge (12, left) and Kawhi Leonard (2, right) talk on the bench during the second half against the Houston Rockets at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
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Oct 21, 2016; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs power forward LaMarcus Aldridge (12, left) and Kawhi Leonard (2, right) talk on the bench during the second half against the Houston Rockets at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 21, 2016; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs power forward LaMarcus Aldridge (12, left) and Kawhi Leonard (2, right) talk on the bench during the second half against the Houston Rockets at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 21, 2016; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs power forward LaMarcus Aldridge (12, left) and Kawhi Leonard (2, right) talk on the bench during the second half against the Houston Rockets at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

 NBA 2016-17 Team Previews – San Antonio Spurs: Fundamental Shifts

To prepare our readers for the regular season SCS provides our NBA 2016-17 Team Previews.  Who will return to the playoffs? Which team will fall from grace and who will be the Cinderella team?

Get a complete break down of each team. Included in the profiles are:

  • Where the team finished 2015-16
  • Key 2015-16 stats
  • Future draft pick status
  • Current and future salary rank
  • Off Season Moves
  • 2017 Free Agents
  • Schedule, NBA League Pass and Win Projection Ranking
  • Team Overview entering season (Starting 5, reserves and notable injuries)
  • When each team will play the Houston Rockets
  • Strengths, Weaknesses and Prediction

NBA 2016-17 Team Previews now looks at the master class of franchises – the San Antonio Spurs

San Antonio Spurs:

2015-16 Record: 67 – 15

Feb 27, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) dribbles past San Antonio Spurs guard Tony Parker (9) during a game at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Playoffs:

Lost NBA Western Conference Semifinals (2-4) versus Oklahoma City Thunder

Points Per Game: 103.5 (10th )

Opponent Points Per Game:  92.9 (1st)

Pace: 93.8 (24th )

Offensive Rank: 110.3 (4th )

Defensive Rank:  99.0 (1st)

Three Point Rank:  37.5% (2nd)

Rebounds: 43.9  (15th)

Assists: 24.5 (3rd)

Steals: 8.3 (11th)

Blocks: 5.9 (6th)

Turnovers: 13.1  (4th)

Next: Future postioning - draft, free agents

Oct 12, 2016; Orlando, FL, USA; San Antonio Spurs guard Patty Mills (8) passes the ball as Orlando Magic guard Elfrid Payton (4) defends during the first quarter at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

2017 Free Agents

Restricted:

  • Jonathon Simmons
  • Nicolas Laprovittola

Unrestricted:

  • Patty Mills
  • Manu Ginobili

Future Draft Picks

See Real GM for full details:

Incoming:

  • 2017 second round draft pick from Atlanta Atlanta’s 2017 2nd round pick to San Antonio protected for selections 31-55 (if this pick falls within its protected range and is therefore not conveyed, then Atlanta’s obligation to San Antonio will be extinguished) [Atlanta-San Antonio, 7/9/2015]

Outgoing:

  • 2022 second round draft pick to Utah

Average Age of Team: 28.6 years

Next: Off Season Moves

Dec 25, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs guard Manu Ginobili (20) dribbles against the Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) in the first half of a NBA basketball game on Christmas at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 25, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs guard Manu Ginobili (20) dribbles against the Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) in the first half of a NBA basketball game on Christmas at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

Dec 25, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs guard Manu Ginobili (20) dribbles against the Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) in the first half of a NBA basketball game on Christmas at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

Draft Picks

Round 1: Dejounte Murray (29)

Round 2: N/A

2016 Free Agents prior to July 1, 2016:

Unrestricted:

Restricted: Boban Marjanovic

Moves made following July 1, 2016:

Incoming:

Exiting: 

Re-upping:

  • Tim Duncan Exorcised Option – Since then has retired
  • Manu Ginobili  1 year, $14M
  • Ryan Arcidiacono, No terms provided
  • Davis Bertans No terms provided

Next: Schedule, League Pass, Win Projection Rankings

Oct 12, 2016; Orlando, FL, USA; San Antonio Spurs forward Kyle Anderson (1) against the Orlando Magic during the second half at Amway Center. San Antonio Spurs defeated the Orlando Magic 95-89. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Vegas over-under for wins: 56.5

Schedule strength:

As ranked by ESPN: 18th with 1.46 extra wins

As always, the bugaboo on the Spurs’ schedule is February’s annual Rodeo Trip. But this season’s edition could be worse than it is. San Antonio has eight straight road games but there is only one back-to-back set and the All-Star break falls during that stretch.

Games versus Rockets:

  • Wednesday November 9th at AT&T Center, San Antonio, TX, at 9:30 PM EST
  • Saturday November 12th at Toyota Center, Houston, TX at 8 PM EST
  • Tuesday December 20th at Toyota Center, Houston, TX at 8 PM EST
  • Monday March 6th at AT&T Center, San Antonio, TX, at 8:30 PM EST

Zach Lowe NBA League Pass Rank: 20th

Kawhi Leonard is the first perimeter defender since Scottie Pippen and Gary Payton so impossible to navigate, opponents just give up the ball and say, “Here, I can’t deal with this dude.” He gobbles up steals without gambling his way out of position or fouling — a delicate balance almost literally no one else can strike. I’d watch a full-game camera showing only Leonard playing defense over the tanking nonsense that masquerades as basketball in April.

Next: Team Overview

Jan 2, 2016; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich gives direction to his team against the Houston Rockets during the first half at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 2, 2016; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich gives direction to his team against the Houston Rockets during the first half at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Jan 2, 2016; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich gives direction to his team against the Houston Rockets during the first half at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

2016 Committed Salary

2016: $111,149,368 – 5th ranked

2017: $93,052,320 –7th ranked

Team Salary Ranking as per Hoops Hype, and team salary overview also via Hoops Hype

Starting 5:

Point Guard:  Tony Parker 10.4 points,  5.3  assists, 2.2  rebounds

Shooting Guard:  Danny Green – 7.2 points, 1.8 assists, 3.8 rebounds

Small Forward:  Kawhi Leonard – 21.1 points, 2.6  assists, 6.8  rebounds

Power Forward:  LaMarcus Aldridge – 18 points,  1.5 assists,  8.5  rebounds

Center: Pau Gasol – 16.5 points,  4.1 assists, 11  rebounds

Reserves:

Guards: Patty Mills, Manu Ginobili, Dejounte Murray

Wings: Kyle Anderson, Jonathan Simmons, Nicolas Laprovittola, Davis Bertans, Bryn Forbes

Bigs:Dewayne Dedmon, David Lee,

Injury News:

  • Jonathan Simmons – thigh, advised he’ll be ready to play on opening night
  • Danny Green – thigh has a 3 week time table (late November), but hopes to return sooner

All injury news as per rotoworld

Next: Strengths, Weaknesses, Prediction

Jun 8, 2014; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich talks to forward Tim Duncan (21) guard Tony Parker (9) and forward Kawhi Leonard (2) against the Miami Heat in game two of the 2014 NBA Finals at AT&T Center. The Heat won 98-96. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 8, 2014; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich talks to forward Tim Duncan (21) guard Tony Parker (9) and forward Kawhi Leonard (2) against the Miami Heat in game two of the 2014 NBA Finals at AT&T Center. The Heat won 98-96. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Jun 8, 2014; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich talks to forward Tim Duncan (21) guard Tony Parker (9) and forward Kawhi Leonard (2) against the Miami Heat in game two of the 2014 NBA Finals at AT&T Center. The Heat won 98-96. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Strengths:

  • Gregg Popovich: there are others who come close like Rick Carlisle or one of many of Pop’s own disciples.  And there is a tier of up and coming young talent of which Brad Stevens captains. But, ask any player who they want to play for and  odds are Pops gets the nod.
  • Identity:  the character, system and persona of the team is cemented. Teams all over the Association have attempted to copy their template, but just like most copies, they just don’t measure up to the original.
  • Defense: when the Spurs hoisted their last Larry O’Brien trophy it occurred in a season where Popovich retooled his  strategy to utilize more pace, symphonic ball (and player) movement and outside scoring.  Last season the Spurs returned to a greater inside presence with the acquisition of LaMarcus Aldridge.  San Antonio combined this with lock down defense capitalizing on the best defensive small forward in the NBA. Without a ‘super team’ of scorers expect this season to find an even greater emphasis in these 2 areas.

Weaknesses:

  • As much as the Spurs function without ego or one specific player being “the guy” the loss of Tim Duncan will likely take some time to process. Sure Parker and Ginobili are still on the roster, but I wonder if they’ll be a moment this season when Pops turns to tell Timmy to enter the game.  Though no one is irreplaceable, finding someone who measures up to Duncan’s  quiet, confident leadership will be no easy feat.
  • Unlike Aldridge who struggled in the Spurs system in year one Pau Gasol seems like a natural fit, at least offensively.  For the Spurs to continue their Western dominance they’ll need Aldridge to take another step this season.
  • For years the Spurs have found hidden gems and developed them to fit a specific roster hole. Though I’ll never question Pops, one has to wonder if the well has run dry.

Prediction:

Tim Duncan left the game having won 5 titles in 6 opportunities (with many feeling the Spurs were robbed of another in Miami).  But perhaps the most astonishing record the Big Fundamental set was never missing the playoffs  – 19 consecutive appearances. Considering the next closest team  (the Hawks) sit at 9 it puts this streak in perspective. Equally impressive is the fact Duncan’s teams missed the 50 win margin once in this career, and it took a strike shortened season for that to occur. Oh, and there’s also that little of 5 titles in 6 tries.

While many marvel at LeBron James 6 straight finals appearances, it’s important to consider these feats.  It speaks to Gregg Popovich and the Spurs franchise, but clearly it speaks to the type of quiet leader Tim Duncan was as well. As the Spurs begin their first season in almost 2 decades without Timmy on the court it must feel like riding a bike without training wheels for the first time.

The new era of basketball features position-less basketball, ball movement and three point shooting. Many of these elements can be traced back at least partially to Gregg Popovich and some iteration of the Spurs.  And while Duncan will not be on the bench the Spurs commitment to excellence and consistency remains intact.

The Warriors will be far and away the favorites in the West and some will opine it’s time for teams like the Clippers to surpass the Spurs.  Young teams will also challenge the masters of consistency. But if your are a long serving NBA fan, you know better than to bet against the team who prefers to be over looked by the media.  Why? Because you know Pops likely spent the summer savoring his favorite red wine while plotting strategies on how to stop the Warriors.  San Antonio won’t have the same star power, but don’t bet against Pop. If anyone can uncover the chink in the Warriors armor it will be Gregg Popovich.

Spurs will win 50 plus games, have home court and if Golden State takes a while to mesh expect Popovich to utilize the opportunity to claim the top seed.

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