2011-12 NBA Preview: San Antonio Spurs
Ah, basketball is finally back. After a horrible lock out by both sides, this is what we have finally been waiting for. A chance on Christmas, or in the Spurs case the day after, to begin a season fresh and anew.
Much has not changed for the Spurs this off-season. They are still one of the oldest teams in the league, and haven’t done a whole lot to improve upon their team last season. In that season, the Spurs raced out front, running a record pace out of the gates. They fizzled towards the end, and it came crashing down in Memphis.
What the Spurs lacked in that game is what could cost them mightily this season. However, they make up for it in team play, smarts, and cohesiveness.
The Spurs return their core of Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, and Tony Parker. They also have role players Gary Neal, Matt Bonner, DeJuan Blair, and Tiago Splitter among others. Richard Jefferson signed a nice contract extension just after the lockout ended, but it is time for him to prove his worth.
The beginning of the season is going to be crucial for San Antonio. With a mix of young and old, the Spurs have to find a way to start strong. A mediocre beginning will really hurt them, especially with the many back to back and back to back to back nights they will have to play.
So where do these Spurs finish? I see the top four seeds in the West being, in no particular order: Clippers, Thunder, Spurs, and then either the Lakers, Warriors, or Mavericks.
What the Spurs will need to have is home court advantage. This old team is going need to grab home court advantage. I see the Spurs making it to at least the Conference Semifinals, but I believe with the way the team is now, they need another body to pair up with Duncan/Bonner/Blair.
Duncan is still a great player, but he’s lost a step. He can hang with most players, but the younger guys like Blake Griffin, Amare Stoudemire, Chris Bosh, or Zach Randoph. Bonner has no inside game, and Blair, as much as I love him and his big heart, he’s just not big enough. Pau Gasol has 5″ on him, and that’s just tough.