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Thursday, September 20, 2012

SDH's 2012/2013 NBA Worst to First Previews and Predictions: 9. San Antonio Spurs

Overall Win/Loss Record : 50-16 first place Southwest Division


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Projected 2012/2013 Finish

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Last season’s Team Statistics and League Rank
  • Points Scored: 103.7 (2nd)
  • Points Allowed: 96.5 (16th)
  • Team FG%: .478 (1st)
  • Opponent’s FG%: .452 (17th)
  • Rebounds per game: 43.0 (9th)
  • Opponents rebounds per game: 41.2 (11th)




Returning Individual Statistical Leaders
  • Scoring: Tony Parker (18.9)
  • Rebounds per game:  Tim Duncan (9.0)
  • Minutes per game:  Tony Parker (32.1)
  • Assists per game:  Tony Parker (7.7)
  • Steals per game:  Kawhi Leonard (1.3)
  • Blocked Shots per game:   Tim Duncan (1.5)


Projected Starters Based on Last Season’s Performance, Veteran Seniority and Projected Impact


Key Reserves Based on Last Season’s Performances, Veteran Seniority and Potential Impact.
  1. Manu Ginobli (G)
  2. Tiago Splitter (C)
  3. Matt Bonner (PF)
  4. Boris Diaw (F)
  5. Patrick Mills (PG)


2012/2013 Projection:  56-26, first place in the Southwest Division; however as with every year, they will follow an impressive regular season performance with a rather poor post season performance.

Analysis:

Last season’s end could not be written any better for a San Antonio Spurs fan—after two straight years of rather disappointing playoff performances, the Spurs finally showed that they were deserving of a number one seed in the West.  They played like a team on a mission simply as they simply dominated their first and second round opponents with little or no resistance. It even looked as if they Spurs may even return to the Finals as they started  the Western Conference Finals with a two game to one lead over the Oklahoma City Thunder .  Unfortunately for San Antonio, the series would not end in its favor as the Thunder won the next three games ending the Spurs’ magical playoff run.  Despite its disappointing end, last season would have been the perfect epitaph to an otherwise glorious era in San Antonio Spurs history.

It was to be the farewell tour of the team’s franchise player of nearly fifteen year who led it to four NBA Championship titles in the first decade of the new millennium.  Tim Duncan was playing the final year of his contract worth 19$ million and many believed that it would be the last year of his career as he had just reached the age of 36 and had already accomplished so much in his 15 year tenure with the Spurs.  Surprisingly that did not happen as the both Spurs and Duncan announced that he would return next season signing a three year contract extension worth in the area of 33$ million.  Such a move did not make much sense as the Spurs would have had been under the salary cap in a couple of year and they would not be really any better if Duncan stayed or left.  Duncan was no longer playing at an All Star level and it was not as if San Antonio did not have anybody to fill in the void that he would have left.

There was already someone who was waiting in the wings once Duncan had left and probably would have done a rather good job in his place.  Tiago Splitter was supposedly being groomed to be Duncan’s successor and from glancing at his numbers last season, he would have been a solid heir apparent.  In less than 20 minutes per game, Splitter averaged about nine points, five boards and almost a blocked shot per game along with shooting .618 from the field.  If he would have played the same amount of minutes that Duncan had played, Splitter’s numbers would have been almost identical with him averaging about 14 points and eight boards per game compared Duncan’s 15.4 points and nine rebounds per game.  And given the fact that Splitter is nine years younger than Duncan, he would have had probably continued to improved whereas Duncan had already reached his ceiling.

Instead of moving forward, it seems as if San Antonio is trying to turn back the clock thinking that they still have a shot at another NBA title with Duncan back.  Unfortunately that is farther from the truth as San Antonio already proved in the last three seasons that its window of opportunity to win a title had all but closed.  Instead of giving the organization a sense of closure, last season phenomenal playoff performance actually has done the opposite giving management a false sense of hope with the delusion that they can still do it again.  Last season was probably the best that San Antonio could have ever done and with a core of players whose average age is 34 years old, it seems that the only place the Spurs will be going is down. Although that is not to say that the Spurs will just collapse all of a sudden—they will still continue to win 50 or more games for years to come; however, by signing Duncan they did themselves a disservice as they essentially mortgaged their future on his aging and war weary shoulders.  And it is such a letdown considering the fact that the Spurs have a group of young and up and coming player ready willing and able to be handed the baton. 

Now all the anticipation to see the new generation of San Antonio Spurs in action has all but been crushed as the team’s front office has chosen to maintain the status quo and keep the gravy train running as long as it can.  And by the time that is over, the young up and coming core that the Spurs once had will all be dried up as they will either leave the team for better opportunities elsewhere or just not develop into nothing more than role players.  Although they had good intentions of signing him, Duncan’s return will only hurt the Spurs march toward the future as his presence will keep them stuck in the past. With the rise of up and coming teams in the West such as the Memphis Grizzlies, Los Angeles Clippers and Denver Nuggets, the Spurs will have to fend for themselves against a wave that is ready to swallow them up whole.  While the rest of the league advances, the Spurs, whom have been in front of the pack for more than a decade will find themselves falling behind with them sooner or later being left in their opponents’ dust.