2014-15 Record: 55-27
PF LaMarcus Aldridge, PF David West
SG/SF Marco Belinelli, PF Aron Baynes, PG Cory Joseph, C Tiago Splitter
Projected 2015-16 Lineup
PG Tony Parker, SG Danny Green, SF Kawhi Leonard, PF LaMarcus Aldridge, C Tim Duncan
This team is old. The presence of Danny Green and Kawhi Leonard, both fantastic players in their own right, make that OK for the future. LaMarcus Aldridge also doesn’t infuse much youth, but he’s replacing a 30-year-old in Tiago Splitter. The wing defense provided by Green and Leonard will help but it remains to be seen how the bigs will do defensively. Tim Duncan had a -9.3 differential in opponent’s shooting percentage normally and when guarded by Duncan within six feet of the hoop. Duncan’s differential is great, but he’s at an age where there is huge potential for differential year-to-year. Aldridge is -5.3 and West is +1.2 (Enes Kanter levels). There isn’t a lot of room for any possible failures here. It’s a position of potential weakness, but is not a weakness yet. The offense will also need to adjust to Aldridge’s ways and vice versa.
X-Factor: Tony Parker
Last season, Parker had a career best 3P% but was very selective in shooting them with just 1.3 per game. He’s never been a league leading type of guard in any category, but Parker’s always been an all-around guard. That type can forestall aging in some ways, but is susceptible to age because there eventually becomes nothing to truly hang your hat on. If Parker can’t find a way to stand out, we’ll see more and more of Patty Mills, which is fine. But a good Parker is better than a good Mills.
Most To Prove: LaMarcus Aldridge
Aldridge’s defense has always been fine. Nothing spectacular. FiveThirtyEight’s CARMELO rating system puts Aldridge in the “Good Starter” category. Much less than the level we expect of him as a max-salary player. Aldridge is supposed to be the heir to the Duncan throne. However, Aldridge is best at things that CARMELO is likely low on. He took the most two-point shots in the NBA in 2014-15 per game. Aldridge specifically needs to get better in the 10-14 feet range where he shot just 37.3% and his most active range, 15-19 feet where he shot 42.6%. That’s a good percentage from the mid-range, but the key is from the mid-range. Aldridge actually shot well from the left corner and left break on threes, but they were very limited.
Why They’re Worth Watching
This was one of the prettiest teams to watch last season and just got possibly the most Spursian player in the NBA that wasn’t a Spur.
It gels. That’s the key really. There will be some drop off from guys like Duncan (unless he’s inhuman), Ginobili, and Parker but some increased success out of Aldridge, Leonard, and Green hopefully. 64-18
Aldridge holds the ball and ruins the offense. He doesn’t like playing center which will happen in San Antonio. 53-29