Spurs preview – 67-15
Key Additions: Pao Gasol – Forward (2 year/$30 million), David Lee- Forward (2 year/ $3.2 million), Dewayne Dedmon- Center (2 year/ $6 million), Dejounte Murray- (29th pick)
Departures: Tim Duncan (Retired), Boris Diaw (Traded), David West
If your team were to go 67-15 you would probably see that as a pretty successful season, but in San Antonio, that’s not the case. The team had the second best record in the league only behind the 73-9 Warriors. Throughout the season the team looked strong; new addition LaMarcus Aldridge fit right into the Spurs game plan. Him along with All-star starter Kawhi Leonard seemed to have great chemistry on the hardwood. But what seemed to be the teams Achilles heel were the Golden State Warriors. The Spurs went 1-3 against the eventual Western Conference champs, including a 30-point blow out in their final meeting of the season. It seemed that the great coach Popovich couldn’t find a way to beat them. Regardless, after completing a somewhat legendary season of their own, the Spurs were confident in their team going into the playoffs.
After a dominating first round against the battered and bruised Memphis Grizzlies, the team ran into the dynamic duo in Oklahoma City. Sports networks across the nation began calling this series a warm up for the Spurs to prepare for the Warriors after beating OKC by 32 points in game one. But the script was flipped after that, and the Thunder went on the beat them in six games. What looked like a promising season ended in only the second round.
Its going to be strange watching the Spurs this season. No more “Big Fundamental” for the first time in decades. Slowly you can see the times changing in San Antonio. While Parker and Ginobili still remain on the roster, you can see that the team is slowly being turned over to Leonard. Every year he looks better and better. Not to mention him and LaMarcus already worked out the kinks in their first season together.
You always have to have high hopes for this team. Just having Coach Pop at the helm makes you think this team will be top three easily every season. With new addition Pao Gasol to help fill the void in the paint, the Spurs look to make a deep run into this years playoffs. Gasol last year in Chicago averaged a double-double with 11 reb and 16.5 ppg. He looks to be a nice fit paired up with Aldridge, even at the age of 36. While Duncan’s presence last season was more for leadership purposes, the Spurs will benefit from having another scoring presence in the post with Gasol. Besides the loss of both Duncan and the trade that shipped Diaw out to Utah, the roster seems to look fairly similar to last years.
The Spurs still have their eyes set on taking down the back-to-back Western Conference Champions. The team still looks strong, and Gasol will have no problem fitting into the Spurs system. His ability to pass the ball from the elbow will certainly lend itself to the pass-happy offense that San Antonio loves to run.
We also cant forget about the main key to their success, Coach Popovich. Since his first full season in San Antonio, he has never missed the playoffs. Every year this team is looked at as championship or bust. Anything short of that is a failure. This team will gel well together and have a smooth sailing into the playoffs like they have in the last 19 seasons.
Leonard will be one of the top MVP candidates this season again this season as well. With the way he plays on both sides of the ball, it’d be hard to think this guy wouldn’t see some love on the ballot this season. He has made significant progress over the past three seasons and is primed to take the next step in terms of leadership now that Duncan is gone. He has the make up of the perfect basketball player; keeps his mouth shut, works hard, and gets better every season.
It was hard not to give them a better record than last year, but with the way teams around them are slowly making their rise, the Spurs won’t win as many games. Much like with Aldridge last season, it may take a few weeks for Gasol to assimilate into the team offense, but the Spurs will be that top-3 team again this season and gear up for there annual deep postseason run.