NBA San Antonio Spurs

Top 5 Players To Watch On San Antonio Spurs

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Top 5 Players to Watch for the San Antonio Spurs

Brendan Maloney-USA TODAY Sports

The San Antonio Spurs were about as close to a championship as a team can get last year, yet seem almost underrated this year. For a long time people have claimed they are too old and will eventually fall off, but this year that does not apply.

Sure, Manu Ginobli has had trouble maintaining his excellence. But outside of him, they are solid. Tim Duncan is getting older, but has been able to keep up a high level of play because he is just so smart a player. Tony Parker is not actually that old and had his best season last year. Additionally, the Spurs have some good young talent. The top guy is Kawhi Leonard. The small forward is a monster defensively, who can rebound and score well, too. Players like him are always underrated, so have no doubt that he will be a cornerstone for this franchise. The difference between Leonard and Paul George is really just that George takes a few more shots a game. Another nice piece is Tiago Splitter. The center has some to learn on both ends of the floor, but is actually quite good. He can protect the paint and finish when the shot is created for him. He’s no top talent, but is a good player to have with so few good centers around the league.

All in all, the Spurs have a hopeful season with lots of talent. There is really no reason they cannot win the West again, if each of these guys can do what he must to keep them flying high. Let’s take a look at what they must do to get back to where they were last year.

Jay Cullen is an NBA writer for Follow him on Twitter or add him on Google

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5. Tony Parker

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

It seems odd to have Tony Parker fifth here when he is obviously the most fun player to watch. He’s here because he’s a known quantity. He is the best player to watch during a game, but over the course of this season, he is going to get around 20 points and eight assists without a doubt. He is the rock for San Antonio, holding them together with his consistency. If he does fall off, the Spurs are in trouble, but his consistency should carry them through the regular season.

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4. Marco Bellinelli

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The Spurs big addition this year was Marco Belinelli, which should illustrate that they believe this core can be just as good next year. Belinelli was intended to essentially replace Gary Neal, who was a good player for San Antonio last year. All Belinelli has to do is knock down shots and play good defense like he did under Tom Thibodeau. If he does that, he will be a very worthy signing.

Truth is, watching him during the regular season will be kind of boring, but almost surely he will hit a big three or miss a key shot for San Antonio in the playoffs. That is where he will make or break his new contract.

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3. Tiago Splitter

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Splitter is likely better than you think. He has a PER of 18.7, and is very efficient. He has a TS% of over 60 percent mainly because he shoots over 70 percent from the line. Sure, he does not create shots and is not a top offensive player, but with his ability to rebound and finish just well enough he is definitely a positive.

On the defensive end Splitter is also talented. He still needs to learn exactly where to be, but with his height he has the potential to be very good on that end. Splitter is not flashy, but he is good. Basically, he is a perfect Spur.

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2. Tim Duncan

Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

Duncan needs to keep fighting off father time. His ability to do so thus fan is unbelievable. Even at his advanced age he is a top defender. That constant anchor in the middle has really helped San Antonio who finished third in defensive efficiency last year. Hopefully he can hold on long enough until Splitter has really become a top defender. That is unlikely to happen this year, so Duncan must continue to be a top player on that end.

Duncan is essential on offense too. Besides Parker he is the best at creating shots for himself. He incredibly posted a PER of 24.4 last year, putting him at sixth in the NBA. He is just such a great rebounder, passer and scorer. His IQ is so high that he can realistically play for two more seasons. Duncan is an all-time great, but few realize he is still a top player even at age 37.

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1. Kawhi Leonard

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Kawhi Leonard is going to be a big time player. As just a second-year player, he had a PER of 16.6, which puts him in the top 20 percent of players. He does so well because he shoots three’s well and rebounds, something few players can do. His best asset is his defense, where he can really lock down opposing wings. All in all, Leonard is the key for the Spurs going forward. If he stays what he is, a good, not great player, the Spurs have little chance of winning another championship. If he improves as expected and can be a top-25 player in the coming seasons, he could really give them a shot to win a title.