San Antonio Spurs Season Preview

24 10 2008

My NBA South West Division preview continues with the San Antonio Spurs:

San Antonio Spurs

2007-08 Standings 56 – 26, 3rd Western Conference

2008-09 Predicted Record 54 – 28, 2nd South West Division, 4th Western Conference

Projected Starting Five:  Fabricio Oberto, Tim Duncan, Bruce Bowen, Michael Finley, Tony Parker

Sixth Man:  Manu Ginobili

Without Manu Ginobili for the first part of the season, Tony Parker will have to take on more of the load offensively.

Without Manu Ginobili for the first part of the season, Tony Parker will have to take on more of the load offensively.

The San Antonio Spurs are the closest thing currently to a dynasty in the NBA. With Tim Duncan on board they’ve won multiple titles (1999, 2003, 2005 and 2007) and been quite simply the banner team for success. Sure there have been pretenders, Detroit in the Eastern Conference has been the other consistently excellent team during that period but they managed one title, the Spurs four.  The only thing that has eluded them has been back to back titles. If 2008/09 follows the pattern of previous seasons then the Spurs will be winning title number five next June.

The success of the Spurs hinges on two men: coach, Gregg Popovich and future Hall of Famer, Tim Duncan. Both men are intrinsically linked and are the only constants in all the Spurs titles. The first title in 1999 was won with David Robinson as the other half of the twin towers. Robinson retired after his second championship in 2003 and Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker became Duncan’s primary sidekicks.

Tim Duncan is one of the best players in the NBA. Seemingly the perfect big man, the only weakness in his game is his erratic free throw shooting. He dominates with consistency and class and is a true franchise player.

Duncan’s primary sidekicks remain Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili. Parker is one of the quickest players in the NBA and it’s still hard to believe he is still only 26. While perhaps not as good as Chris Paul and Deron Williams he is still capable of taking over a game down the stretch as he can get in to the paint at will.

Ginobili is the reigning Sixth Man of the Year and it says something about his character and the culture of the Spurs that Ginobili is willing to come off the bench for the good of the team. However there is a nagging sense that injuries and age is catching up with Ginobili. He will be missing from the lineup until at least mid December as he recovers from surgery on his ankle.

Bruce Bowen is the designated stopper of the Spurs. Typically Bowen guards the opposition’s best perimeter player, whether that is Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash or Paul Pierce. He does this through a variety of legitimate and dirty tricks. He also remains a capable outside shooter from the wings. Ime Udoka is his designated heir.

The remainder of the Spurs are a mix of veteran role players and intriguing talent. Michael Finley and Kurt Thomas are the kind of no nonsense veterans that the Spurs value – they seldom make mistakes and know how to play with the superstars on the team.

The San Antonio Spurs will again be dangerous this season. It’ll be interesting to see how they cope with the rising powers such as the Utah Jazz and New Orleans Hornets.

Coach:

Gregg Popovich is arguably the best coach in basketball. Every year people whisper that maybe this is the year that they will finally slip back but every year they are contenders come the playoffs.

Bench:

Manu Ginobili better get healed quick as there is a worrying look to the Spurs bench. However it wouldn’t surprise me to see some of the newish players on the roster, the rookies such as George Hill develop into something. After all this is a franchise renown for finding gems at the tail end of the draft.

Star Player:

Tim Duncan remains one of the best players in the NBA and arguably is a top 10 player of all time. Everything the Spurs do revolves around him.

Team MVP:

Manu Ginobili is the key to the Spurs. He gives them an x factor that few teams can match. Arguably it was his banged up body in the playoffs that cost them a chance at defending their title. Let’s hope that the ankle surgery he underwent will have him right for the season. 

Final Prognosis:

The San Antonio Spurs will contend for the title again. Personally I’m hoping that they make it through the West to face the Celtics for the title. I would love to see Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan facing off for the title. I don’t think it’s going to happen though.

 

You can find an index of past Previews here.

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One response

25 10 2008
john

I’ve just uploaded the latest video from Manu Ginobili doing an interview with the press during Spurs Media Day.

Let me tell you this, the Dude is back! The least to say is that he does sound very confident about himself, the team and the new season. I can’t wait to see OUR Olympic hero get back to the court do his thing.

You may drop a line about expectation from the new season and perhaps how much will the Spurs miss Manu during his absence. I would love to hear them from you.

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