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Thursday, May 23, 2013

SDH Presents the NBA's Worst to First for January and and February: 1. San Antonio Spurs

Overall Win/Loss Record (as of February 28th): 45-14 (first place, Southwest Division)  

This Month:

Team Statistics and League Rank (as of February 28th)

  • Points Scored: 104.2 (4th)
  • Points Allowed: 96.0 (8th)
  • Team FG%: .485 (2nd)
  • Opponent’s FG%: .439 (6th)
  • Team FT%: .788 (4th)
  • Team Three Point FG%: .379 (5th)
  • Rebounds per game: 41.0 (24th)
  • Opponents rebounds per game: 42.7 (20th)
  • Turnovers per game: 14.6 (13th)
  • Opponents turnovers per game: 15.2 (10th)

Individual Statistical Leaders (as of February 28th)

  • Scoring (ppg): Tony Parker (21.0)
  • Rebounds per game:  Tim Duncan (9.7)
  • Minutes per game: Tony Parker (33.0)
  • Assists per game:  Tony Parker (7.6)
  • Field Goal Percentage: Tiago Splitter (.595)
  • Free Throw Percentage:   Tony Parker (.830)
  • Three Point FG Percentage: Danny Green (.434)
  • Steals per game: Kawhi Leonard (1.8)
  • Blocked Shots per game:  Tim Duncan (2.7)
Worst Player of the Month: Manu Ginobli

It is sad to say, but it seems as if Manu Ginobli has outlived his usefullness.  At 35 years of age, he has lost much of the explosiveness that he had been reputed of having and his numerous injuries have kept him out of action for much of the regular season.  Once a vital piece of the Spurs, Manu has seen his importance slide as he has been slowly phased out in favor of younger and more athletic players such as Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green.  With his contract expiring at season's end, it is doubtful that the Spurs will re-up him as his age and diminishing abilities have all but sealed his fate.  He is no longer the same Manu who helped the Spurs win four Championship titles and it may be time to bid him a fond yet heartfelt farewell.  
First Player of the Month:  Tiago Splitter

One can certainly consider Tiago Splitter as one of the best NBA players that no one has ever heard.  Although Forever he still remains under the huge shadow of Tim Duncan, Splitter has put forth a rather solid season averaging close to 10 points and 7 boards in under 25 minutes per game.  At the same time, he has been near perfect from the field hitting close to .600 of his attempts.  Throughout the months of January and February, Tiago has been a crucial contributor offensively scoring in double digits in all but four games while shooting over .500 in all but two.  With such tremendous play, one has to wonder what if the Spurs chose not to resign Duncan in favor of Splitter--would they be just as good without him as with him?

Once again the San Antonio Spurs have regained the top spot in the NBA with the most wins in the regular season making most observers ask the following question--who cares?  It is nothing new as San Antonio has finished every regular season winning 55 to 60 games--it is almost expected.  The problem occurs after the regular season and into the post season where the Spurs have been less than stellar to say the least.  In the last three years, despite posting the best regular season records in the league San Antonio has choked in the playoffs being eliminated twice in the first round.  Last season it looked as if San Antonio had broken that jinx going undefeated in its conference to reach the Conference Finals; however, they were embarrassingly thwarted yet again by the Oklahoma City Thunder despite opening the series two wins to none.  Like that adorable animated Mexican stereotype, Speedy Gonzales, Oklahoma City simply zipped past the Spurs leaving them in the dust and forcing them and their fans to swallow another disappointing post season performance.

Upon observing the history of the past four years, it has become painfully clear that the window has closed on San Antonio's ability to win another NBA title despite finishing among the top teams in the regular season.  They still remain among the league's elite, however, only because of their past accomplishments winning four NBA Championships in the last fifteen years with only the Los Angeles Lakers possessing more NBA titles in that span of time.  In fact, on can go as far as to say that San Antonio's stature is bolstered by the past so much that it has skewered the perceptions of many including their fans.  The plain and simple fact is that matter how many wins a team gets in the regular season, the only thing that matters in the end is whether or not it wins a championship in the end, and in the Spurs'case, it seems that their ability to do so have finally come to an end.  It has almost come to the point of monotony watching the Spurs build up so high to get to the playoff only to get knocked over with ease.

One can liken the Spurs to a rerun of an old television sitcom that has long since been cancelled: you can watch it everyday and still have a chuckle no matter how many times you look at it; however as time wears on, the show begins to lose its appeal and you begin to lose interest.  That is the problem with the Spurs--they seem to be stuck in this ongoing time loop in time never advancing, just simply spinning the wheels, but simply going nowhere.  Despite the advancing ages of their three stars and their declining production, the Spurs still consistently fut forth the same forth and get the same results every time.  Unfortunately, when the team simply does not deliver once the regular season is over as their big three no longer have the gas to continue forward with the momentum into the playoffs resulting in the team falling off time and time again.   It has literally been an ongoing punchline of a joke that starts of being funny, but as time wears on it starts to stop being funny and after a while people start to lose interest.

That is why despite their consistently finishing among the top five teams in the NBA during regular season, the Spurs are rarely, if ever mentioned as a potential championship contender as many have started to lose faith in this one time dynasty. Kudos to the Spurs, however, for maintaining the same consistency over the past fifteen years not showing few if any signs of decline.  Many NBA teams with aging rosters often find themselves in decline after four or five years, crash and are then forced to start rebuilding from scratch--but not the Spurs.  In their case, it seems as if Father Time has kept them insulated in a bubble for the entire regular season and finally lets them out once the playoffs arrive thus revealing their true age and resulting in their early post season eliminations.  And that what remains frustrating for fans of the Spurs because they continue seeing this vicious cycle over and over again to the point that they have become nauseous from the continuous spinning in circles--to quote an old Smashing Pumpkins song: "despite all (their) rage, they still just rats in a cage."

With the season's end coming sooner with each passing game, it is almost a forgone conclusion that San Antonio will finish with either the best record in the league, or worst, among the top three teams; however, expect the endgame to remain the same.  The Spurs will end up going so far only to slip, fall and crash to back to Earth being forced to watch on the sidelines as another team goes on to win the NBA championship.  What was once a team known for its consistent hard work and solid play are now earning the reputation of being a consistent source of disappointment and frustration for its fans.  Sooner or later, Spurs fans will grow tired of the same old circus act and start to lose interest and do not think that will happen because it already has with the rest of the basketball viewing community.  Although the team deserves credit for maintaining the same consistency over time with little or no signs of deteriorating, the San Antonio Spurs still remain stuck once their hit that major speed bump otherwise known as the NBA Playoffs.