Welcome to part three of a five-part series debating the all-time starting five of the San Antonio Spurs. Tony Parker and George Gervin together compose the Spurs’ All-Time backcourt. In this installment, we will be discussing which past or present Spurs player should start at small forward for our All-Time team.
This spot would have to go to Sean Elliot, who spent every season but one with the Spurs.
He was a tremendous player: a two-time All-Star, proficient scorer, and of course the man who hit the amazing “Memorial Day Miracle” shot en route to the Spurs’ first title in 1999. He averaged 14 PPG and shot 38 percent from 3-point land over his career, and averaged 20 PPG in the 1995-96 season.
Although I believe the answer has to be Sean Elliot right now, I wouldn’t be surprised if it is different just a few years from now.
Actually, I expect it to change. I believe Kawhi Leonard has star potential and will eventually be the greatest small forward to ever play for the Spurs.
Of course, this is a pretty bold statement for a guy who has only played two years in the league. But as many of you witnessed, Kawhi was extremely impressive during last season’s deep playoff run. At the then-young age of 22, Kawhi was expected to struggle on the big stage, especially in the Finals.
Instead he excelled. During the Finals, he averaged 14.6 points (the most for anyone his age in the finals since Kobe Bryant), 11.1 rebounds and two steals. He showed the ability to shoot from range, finish around the rim and was a monster on the offensive boards (averaged three offensive rebounds per game).
Defensively, he was assigned with the impossible task of guarding LeBron James, but played him as well as anyone could. He showed tremendous poise throughout the series and was truly the Spurs’ most consistent player throughout the Finals. Still Kawhi is not even close to reaching his potential. If he fully realizes that, he will be the second coming of Scottie Pippen.
So there you have it. Elliot is, at this point in time, the starting small forward of the Spurs’ All-Time starting five.
However, I predict that Leonard will eventually surpass Elliot and all others to become the greatest small forward in Spurs history. Of course this could be entirely incorrect and Leonard may never realize his true potential, but for a player with his work ethic and character, I don’t see it happening.