Predicting San Antonio Spurs’ Final 2013-14 Roster
Predicting the San Antonio Spurs' Final Roster
Normally, a team that has fallen just short of a championship will not dramatically alter its makeup, but will tweak it by adding to or enhancing it to eliminate weaknesses and fortify strengths. The San Antonio Spurs are fresh off of a disappointing NBA Finals loss to the Miami Heat and are, despite the constant media pointing to the contrary, wiping that proverbial dirt off their collective shoulders. They are coming into the 2013-14 NBA season more certain than ever as to their ability to reach the pinnacle of professional basketball with their current core.
Tim Duncan proved last year that he is, beyond speculative prattling, the very best power forward to ever play the game. He also showed that he is still one of the top 10 best players in the game and perhaps still the very best big man in the NBA as well. Head-to-head playoff matchups in which he dominated Dwight Howard and Zach Randolph attest to that.
Tony Parker, despite three titles and multiple All-Star appearances, seems to get looked over when the NBA props wagon is dishing out compliments. However, it was he who carried the brunt of the offensive load for San Antonio throughout the playoffs, and he almost single-handedly won Game 6 before running out of gas. History remembers the Spurs failing in their endeavors last season thanks to a timely corner 3-pointer from Jesus Shuttlesworth aka Ray Allen to send the series back to Miami.
Manu Ginoboli has clearly lost a step or two as his 37th birthday looms in the distant future. He was once the free radical molecule within the conservative and methodical offensive body that is the Spurs, and that seemingly unpredictable energy had long been the scourge of NBA defenders. But he was in large part a defensive liability throughout the playoffs last year, and an offensive liability versus Miami. His 11-point average is the second-lowest output of his entire NBA career as well.
The 2013 NBA Playoffs revealed the strengths and weaknesses of a Spurs team that, if some analysts were to tell it, was too old to make any kind of noise. Noticeably absent on the Spurs' roster last season was another low post scoring threat to compliment Tim Duncan, although F/G Kawhi Leonard did start posting up later in the season. PF Tiago Spillter averaged 10 points per game last season, but he is a cleanup guy at best, and not a very rugged one as he averaged just six rebounds a game last season. Also, he has shown very little ability to score on clear outs. This is true even when he has a size advantage. Boris Diaw has some moves on the low block, but he cannot be relied on to score consistently there because of his age and relative small size.
First-round draft pick Livio Jean-Charles suffered a severe knee sprain during FIBA U-20 back in July, and there's speculation he would not have joined the Spurs next year anyway. Second-year player Nando De Carlo isn't particularly spectacular at point guard, and I don't think he makes this roster, which is rich in point guards. He is good enough to be in the NBA all the same. Former Ohio State Buckeye Deshaun Thomas isn't a shoo-in to make this roster either. The Spurs are deep at shooting guard and small forward. Here's what I feel the final roster of the Spurs may look like.
Ricardo Hazell is a freelance sports writer for Rantsports.com. Follow him on Twitter @NikosMightyDad or add him to your network on Google Plus.
15. F/C Tiago Splitter
They say a player is more than the sum total of his numbers and no player on the San Antonio Spurs embodies that quality quite like C-F Tiago Splitter. He provides the Spurs with a garbage man who plays good position defense. Though it would be nice if Splitter could block a few shots, his strength gives him the ability to get physical with most centers on a night to night basis. In addition, he allows PF Tim Duncan to conserve energy by allowing the latter to play his natural position instead of having to bang with the heavier players thus tiring him quickly. While Splitter's PPG average of 10 is okay, he has to grab more than 6 rebounds per game this year.
14. PG Patty Mills
It must suck being a backup point guard in San Antonio. Patty Mills could tell you that. Fans rarely get to see what he's got because Tony Parker, being in the prime of his career, gets the T-Rex' share of the minutes. Meanwhile, Patty Mills is a pretty good shooter, tough defender and can finish well in traffic with both hands. But if you never caught one of his D-League games, you might not know that. Perhaps more minutes are in order this season.
13. PF Jeff Ayres
Strong and athletic, PF Jeff Ayres (former Pendergraph) is still trying to find his niche in the NBA. He provided rebounding and shot-blocking off the bench for the Indiana Pacers last season, but was largely inconsistent in administering both. Perhaps having an NBA Hall of Fame head coach question his manhood will light a fire underneath him ... or irreparably shatter his confidence.
12. PG Cory Joseph
To say that Cory Joseph played limited minutes during the NBA Finals is a misnomer. He barely played aside from the 21 minutes of burn he got during the Spurs' 113-77 laugher. Perhaps having better court vision, a more consistent jump shot and playing tougher defense this season will remedy that chronic splinter-itis he suffered last year.
11. G/F Corey Maggette
It is sometimes hard to imagine this once precocious shooting guard is now in his 14th NBA season. Corey Maggette can provide offense in a variety of ways and would be a great change of pace coming off the bench as a shooting guard. Last season, he averaged a career low 5.3 points per game in limited action for the Detroit Pistons due to injury. If given a full season of health, you can pretty much pencil him in for 11 points per game.
10. C/F Aron Baynes
Aron Baynes is a former Washington State University standout from Australia, is 6-foot-11 and 260 pounds, and has all the physical makings of a productive NBA center. He will likely get more minutes with the departure of PF Dejuan Blair. Though slow of foot, Baynes can rebound and hit the mid-range jump shot as well. His production should trend up as playing time increases.
9. SF Sam Young
SF Sam Young is the epitome of average. He can shoot, but isn't awesome at it. He defends, but is exposed against the very best at his position. He is athletic, but not to Youtube highlight reel extent. He's just run of the mill. Perhaps its his sportsmanship or his willingness to sacrifice for the team that made Pop and company reach out to him.
8. PF Matt Bonner
The legend of the Red Rocket aka Matt Bonner will continue for yet another year to the joy, or chagrin, of Spurs fans. Though he shot over 40 percent from beyond the line last season, he's a liability when he's not hitting his shots, and is a poor rebounder and average defender for his size. He does give maximum effort at the latter, but quicker power forwards always seem to skate right by him.
7. F/C Boris Diaw
At this point in the game, Boris Diaw is just a siphon for minutes that are best given to a younger, hungrier, more athletic player during the regular season. He can rebound when he's moved to do so, doesn't score that much and seemingly only plays defense from April through the playoffs. Aside from his above-average passing ability, I don't know what coach Gregg Popovich sees in him; then again, I don't have four NBA titles either.
6. SG Danny Green
Danny Green is an example as to why we should never, ever count our chickens before they hatch. The 6-foot-6 shooting guard was having a career year and an NBA Finals for the ages up until Game 5 versus the Miami Heat. That's when Heat coach Erik Spoelstra got tired of hearing all that drivel about Green being considered for Finals MVP after scorching his team for the almost the entire series. His strategy was simple: make Green put it on the floor. It worked masterfully as Danny faded in Game 6, shooting 1-of-7 from the field, and 1-of-12 in game seven. He may have been under the weather, but 2-of-19 in the NBA Finals does not get a pass, ever. I hope he has figured out how to score off the dribble during the offseason.
5. SG Marco Belinelli
Let it not go unsaid that Marco Bellineli balled during the playoffs last season and put up the most exciting nine-point average I've seen in a minute. He was hitting clutch shots and defending players way above his pay grade, and was Mr. Floorburns on the hustle. He's an excellent pickup for the Spurs, and perhaps one of the top sleeper free agent signings of the offseason.
4. SG Manu Ginobili
Oh, Manu Ginobili. Once upon a time, you wowed and exasperated Spurs fans with your daring bounce passes between the legs of hapless defenders, your crazy-legged forays into the paint and hopelessly unorthodox floaters off the wrong leg. You looked like the Argentine answer to a player at the Rutger Park Summer League of Harlem, NY fame. But, alas, your most productive years seem to be behind you. Last season's average of 11 points per game were his lowest average since his rookie season. Watching Ginobili play in the NBA Finals last season was like watching an arthritic hound dog struggle in vain to hunt the sly fox. Perhaps last season was an apparition, but I don't think so.
3. F/G Kawhi Leonard
Kawhi Leonard is the future of the San Antonio Spurs franchise and showed he has the moxy to mix it up with the very best small forwards in the league on defense, and possesses the physical tools to be a consistent 20 PPG scorer in the league. Though selflessness is an endearing and necessary trait for any basketball team, selfishness is a virtue for top-level scorers. Scoring on one guy? That just takes being fundamentally sound. Scoring over double- and triple-teams? That takes a special kind of stubbornness, which Leonard needs a tad bit more of.
2. F/C Tim Duncan
Tim Duncan averaged 17 points and 10 rebounds per game in helping lead the San Antonio Spurs on an unexpected run at another NBA championship, and was just a missed finger roll away from making his fifth NBA championship a reality. Wasn't Timmy considered over the hill five years ago? After serving up humble pie to Dwight Howard, Zach Randolph and Chris Bosh in their respective one-on-one playoff matchups, Duncan has to be considered the best big man in basketball until Dwight Howard or Andrew Bynum decide they would like to actually live up to their potential.
1. PG Tony Parker
We can all pretty much agree that Tony Parker is the man, right? Okay, so how come there are always seven or eight point guards mentioned before him whenever prognosticators start crafting lists of the best in the NBA? Last season, Parker averaged 20 points and 7.6 assists per game while shooting 52 percent from the field, an astounding shooting percentage for a point guard. Perhaps its his accent or maybe his slight build that makes bloggers forget, but TP doesn't stand for toilet paper. He's a pint-sized assassin who has grown into the very engine that pushes the San Antonio Spurs.