The San Antonio Spurs are always too old. Every year writers expect them to fall off because they are just an aging bunch that has to at some point.
Finally, that isn’t true. Sure, Manu Ginobili is definitely not his old self, and Tim Duncan cannot play the minutes he has in the past, but they have some real young talent that should help extend the Spurs dominance. It all centers around Kawhi Leonard.
Leonard was finally recognized as a top player in the finals, but he is even better than most people currently believe. Leonard is an incredible defender as we all know, but he should be a very good offensive player in the coming years, too. As only a sophomore, he had a true shooting percentage of 59 percent, putting him in the top class of efficient scorers. He also is a very good rebounder for his position, even while playing next to multiple bigs who can rebound well. He rarely turns it over. Leonard only averaged 12 points a game last year, but do not be surprised if that jumps to 15 or 16 this year. Simply put, Leonard is efficient in every way possible and while that efficiency may drop a little with a bigger role, he should be very effective this year.
Leonard isn’t the only young talent, though. Believe it or not, Tiago Splitter is good. Splitter is a very good defender inside as he has improved his mobility and positioning a lot since entering the NBA. He still has room for improvement, but he has the height and smarts to be a very staunch defender. The sneaky thing about Splitter is he is better on offense than most believe. Part of it is how awkward he looks and how bad he was coming into the league. Last year, he shot 61 percent in true shooting percentage and actually averaged 15.5 points per 36 minutes. He is no offensive All Star, but he is certainly competent and should continue to grow.
Danny Green had a coming out party in the Finals and should also play a significant role for the Spurs this season. In addition, the Spurs made small moves in signing Marco Belinelli and letting Gary Neal go. Overall, though, this team will improve because of its young players’ development or fall apart because its aging players do not hold up. Truth be told, the Spurs actual record probably does not mean much to Gregg Popovich. He cares about getting his team ready for the playoffs, so do not be surprised to see the Spurs drop a few games for rest purposes. This may deflate their win total a little, but not enough to be of serious concern.
Prediction: Spurs get the second seed in the West with 56 wins.