Last year, the San Antonio Spurs season ended in a sweep by none other than the Golden State Warriors.
With the 2017-18 season approaching, the Spurs should be excited about the endless possibilities. In last year’s Western Conference finals, the Spurs found themselves down without their star Kawhi Leonard who re-aggravated his ankle injury after landing on Zaza Pachulia’s foot.
The jury is still out on the play which arguably cost the Spurs the series. With less than 12 days until the NBA season tips off, the franchise has something to prove to the world.
While other organizations struggle to maintain a balanced roster with youth and veteran leadership, the Spurs just seem to switch out pieces and depending on the draft.
Greg Popovich will be entering his 21st season as the Spurs head coach. Despite last season’s ending, the historic franchise still has a chance to do the impossible, dethrone the Warriors.
Before you freak out, remember that the Spurs went into halftime with a 62-42 lead in last year’s conference finals. During the third quarter, Leonard landed on Pachulia’s foot and was sidelined for the rest of the series.
In addition to Leonard sitting out, long time guard Tony Parker ruptured his quadriceps in the series against the Houston Rockets. Although Parker is 35 years old, the longtime Spur knows how to make his teammates better, facilitates the ball and leads the troops.
If both Parker and Leonard come back healthy, the franchise has a real shot of defeating the reigning NBA champions. Now if you’re a Spurs fan, there are three key reasons why you should believe that your team can defeat Dub Nation.
Spurs’ balanced roster
During free agency, Spurs management made it a priority to re-sign Pau Gasol, Patty Mills and Manu Ginobili. Despite the age of both Gasol and Ginobili, the two veterans will play a crucial role in the postseason.
In addition to re-signing key parts from last year’s roster, management also signed Rudy Gay and drafted Derrick White, a combo-guard out of the University of Colorado Springs.
Although Gay is coming off of a ruptured Achilles injury, general manager RC Buford and Popovich struck gold. The 31-year-old small forward can guard multiple positions, score and handle the rock.
The coaching staff can virtually play Gay in any situation whether it’s small ball, defending bigs or in crunch time situations. The Baltimore native has a career average of 18.4 points per game.
During last year’s Western Conference finals, the franchise struggled to get points from the bench. In addition, Gay will be a reliable player to the bench if he can stay healthy. When healthy the Spurs averaged 107.1 points per game in the postseason.
This season the Spurs will have a solid bench rotation in Patty Mills, Manu Ginobili, Kyle Anderson, Rudy Gay and Joffrey Lauvergne. Now I know you may be laughing, but Popovich’s’ resume speaks for its self and he has a way of connecting with overseas players.
With the current roster, Popovich has roster depth beyond his second string and can play Dejounte Murray, Derrick White and Bryn Forbes if necessary.
Last year’s playoffs helped provide Anderson and Murray with playoff experience. Throughout the offseason, Murray has worked out with Leonard which could be a blessing in disguise.
Trust in Popovich
Most of you may not like the comparison, but Popovich is probably the Bill Belichick of the NBA (minus the cheating and boring press conferences). Since taking over in 1996, the military veteran has changed the culture of the organization.
Any newcomer has to buy into the system, just ask LaMarcus Aldridge. No matter who is on the roster Popovich demands defense, ball movement and commitment. Players respect the 68-year-old coach and love to play for him because of his passion.
Coach Pop is the longest tendered coach in the NBA and that says something. Since he has been coaching in San Antonio, the organization has won five championships.
As long as the Spurs have Popovich on the sideline they have a chance to win on any night. Granted there does have to be some talent on the roster.
Reports have indicated that Parker may not return until December, but the franchise will weather the storm like always.
If healthy the projected starting line-up could be Tony Parker, Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, LaMarcus Aldridge and Pau Gasol.
Sources reported that Aldridge and Popovich cleared the air which could finally give LA the push to play harder. The starting lineup has played together for more than a year.
Last season Leonard led the team with 27.7 points, 7.8 rebounds and 4.6 assists per game. In order for this team to rise to the occasion and defeat the Warriors, they need to get a contribution from all five starters. Now again Parker averaged 15.9 points which were missed in the playoffs, but let’s face it, the bulk of scoring needs to come from Aldridge and Leonard with a splash of Green.
Featured image taken by Mark Runyon
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