Tuesday, October 30, 2012
10/30/2012 01:16:00 PM | Posted by James Bucklin | Edit Post
In order to adequately preview the San Antonio Spurs this season I could probably just post a link to last year's preview. No big changes here. If you're a Spurs fan you certainly weren't brimming with excitement over the off-season. No subtractions. One minor addition. And that's it. You're also probably not to upset about that either. The core is still in tact and so is the bench. The young guys will be a year wiser, the old guys will be a year older. The main concern for this team has to be health, and that concern starts with Manu Ginobili.
Reports are stating that Ginobili will not be ready for Opening Night in New Orleans Wednesday night. Are his back spasms and foot problems something the Spurs should be permanently wary of, or is this just standard practice for coach Gregg Popovich, benching one of his better players when they are banged up and the Spurs have what should be an easy opponent in the very young Hornets? After all, it is just a regular season game and this team has playoff aspirations.
In a stronger Western Conference those hopes could be just that though. The Oklahoma City Thunder will be a year better looking to bounce back from their NBA Finals loss. The Los Angeles Lakers have added the best center in the NBA, Dwight Howard, and one of the best point guards of all time, two-time MVP Steve Nash. The Spurs would have to rank number three in the west when considering these teams, but these guys have surprised us before (see last season).
If the Spurs are to make a serious push at making it back to the Western Conference Finals, it's going to have to be on the shoulders of point guard Tony Parker. With Tim Duncan's advanced age and Ginobili's questionable injury status, this is without question Parker's team. He'll need to play a gigantic role on the offensive end, most likely being the leading scorer and facilitator. Parker is still in his prime and is in most minds a top-five point guard in the world. He'll have to prove it for the Spurs to reach their potential this season.
They'll also need to lean heavily on their youthful players. Kawhi Leonard had a stellar rookie season last year, which can be seen by the simple fact alone that he worked his way into Popovich's starting lineup as a rookie. That's one of the bigger rarities possible. Pop believes Leonard could be a potential star in the NBA and will be the team's best player when this current core disassembles.
Danny Green proved his worth last season as well, also earning a starting spot for much of the season. His defense and ability to hit the long ball are exactly what the doctor ordered for the Spurs, but Green will have to be much improved when it comes to playoff performance, however. The kid disappeared last season, forcing Pop to take Ginobili off his bench and thrust him back into a starting role. Hopefully Green getting some experience last season can fix that this year.
One name that many experts are expecting big things from this season is Tiago Splitter, much like every year. This season, however, will be a contact year for Splitter, so this may actually be the time he finally explodes into a massive role with the Spurs. Duncan's decline, and Matt Bonner, Dejuan Blair and Boris Diaw's inconsistencies should open up plenty of minutes for Splitter if he earns them. If the Spurs could get at least 10-and-10 out of Splitter, possibly allowing Duncan to turn back into a true power forward when they play side-by-side, that could be a huge x-factor for San Antonio, who will be in the mix between a lot of talented teams in the Western Conference this season.