The San Antonio Spurs had an awful first half, and well into the third quarter, the starters had dug themselves into a large hole. A little over midway through that third quarter, it appeared Greg Popovich threw in the towel, pulling all five starters as the Spurs play four games in five nights, including tonight. What ensued was nothing short of madness.
After a furious rally in which the Spurs backups, down by 18, initiated a 26-4 run, actually took the lead against the Dallas Mavericks starters before falling in overtime 101-100. That prompted me to think: Do the Spurs have the best bench in the league?
There are so many great players in this league, and many choose to be bench players on winning teams than start on losing teams. Fair enough. The San Antonio Spurs five tonight, Tiago Splitter, Matt Bonner, Gary Neal, Daniel Green, and James Anderson are not the flashiest of players that anyone could think of. Add Kawhi Leonard to that group whenever Manu Ginobili returns, and that is a dangerous group.
Just ask those Dallas Mavericks how good this second unit is. Bonner, Splitter, and Anderson had 8 points each, while Green had 12 and Neal had 19. Those five combined for 55 of the Spurs 100 points.
They are not the biggest unit that one could throw out there, but they have a couple of up and coming players. Tiago Splitter, Daniel Green, and Gary Neal could one day take the reigns from Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, and Tony Parker, and I would not have a problem.
When looking at other benches in the league, I think this unit stacks up with the best of them. Splitter is not as polished as an Omar Asik or Al Harrington, but he is improving quickly. Neal and Green are both underrated players in this league, and both are continuing to make big plays in big games. CJ Watson, Jason Terry, and James Harden might be better than these guys, but I would take bets that they will surpass those players in the next few years.
In the grand scheme of the things, I believe San Antonio’s bench is not the best. There is a reason why teams like the Chicago Bulls and Oklahoma City Thunder are leading their respective divisions. But I would put the Spurs bench somewhere in that next tier, with the likes of the Philadelphia 76′ers and Denver Nuggets.
In a few years though, just watch out, because these young guys are going to be very, very dangerous.
Follow Paul Troupe on Twitter @gamin4HIM