2013-14 record: 62-20
Key Additions: Kyle Anderson
Key Departures: None
Projected 2014-15 Lineup: PG Tony Parker SG Danny Green SF Kawhi Leonard PF Tim Duncan C Tiago Splitter
What can you say about this Spurs team? I mean, look at the additions and departures above. They essentially did nothing of note this offseason other than nab a quality guy in the draft. This is the same team that was on the court last year, and last year they won an NBA title.
I suppose you could talk about how they’re all a year older. That benefits some of the guys and it could hurt the older ones. Then again, the whole not playing anyone more than 30 minutes per game is a pretty solid recipe for success. I think the only thing that could keep this Spurs squad from being the best team in the regular season is how much they rest guys. But they do have some of the best depth and the best system in the game, so sitting a superstar really doesn’t set them all that far back.
You could also talk about Kawhi Leonard, how he’s going to have increased expectations after winning the NBA Finals MVP award. But really, it’s pretty clear that Leonard is going to be the guy for this team, or maybe even any team unless he changes his style of play. That doesn’t mean he’s any less valuable. He’s a high energy, solid defense, spark guy who does so much for any team he’s on. He goes out and does his job every night. I don’t think winning the Finals MVP changes that.
Some may want to talk about the fact that the Spurs have never won two titles in a row. Who cares? The Bulls had never won three in a row until Michael did it in the ’90s. LeBron had never taken a team to the Finals four years in a row until he did it. It didn’t mean that it wasn’t possible, just that winning a title in the NBA is really hard. But this Spurs team is too experienced and too well coached to have winning last year be a real argument for why they won’t win this year.
I guess if you really wanted to stretch, you could talk about the fact that Tim Duncan and co. should have retired last year, going out on top instead of playing another season when they aren’t guaranteed to win a title. That’s nonsense.
Sorry this analysis is a bit shorter than usual, but everyone saw what this Spurs team did last year. It’ll be more of the same through 2015.
X-Factor: Patty Mills
Patty Mills had the highest average speed on the court of any player in the NBA last year.1 That’s part of the reason why he was able to be so effective on both sides of the ball, but it’s also a hard thing to keep up. He’s going to play some major minutes behind Tony Parker, and whoever you have manning the point is important to a team’s success. Hopefully he can keep up the effort, improve his playmaking abilities, and co-lead this Spurs team from the backcourt.
Who Has The Most To Prove: Kawhi Leonard
Leonard is really the only sensical pick here, since most of the other players don’t have a thing left to prove. Really, I don’t think Leonard needs to prove that much, but if he really is expected to be the face of this franchise in a couple years and a guy that the team builds around, then he is going to have to improve on the offensive end. His 2 assists a game could be a bit higher, and he could improve his three point shooting I guess? Having anyone over 40% would be a good thing. In the current system though, he’s doing just fine.
Why They’re Worth Watching:
They’re full of sharp passes, great spacing and quality shots. Plus, on occasion, Kawhi throws down a massive dunk. Just watch the Spurs, alright.
Best Case: The team stays healthy, Leonard and Green improve on their numbers from last year, and everyone is fresh for another long playoff run. 63 wins.
Worst Case: The older guys do break down, Patty Mills can’t keep up his extraordinary efforts, and everyone is extra amped up to play in San Antonio. 54 wins.
Projected Record: 61-21