Culture of Hoops

2013-14 NBA Season Preview: San Antonio Spurs

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Most Important Player: Tony Parker
Almost always forgotten in the discussion of the best point guards in the NBA, Parker is right there with Chris Paul and Derek Rose as the best points in the league.

X-Factor: Kawhi Leonard
If the third-year player plays at or near the level he did in the playoffs last season, the San Antonio Spurs have themselves a legitimate defensive stopper and an emerging offensive threat.

Rotations: The Spurs suffered little attrition in the offseason, with the only losses of significance being DeJuan Blair and Gary Neal. Neal was replaced by Marco Belinelli, while Blair was replaced on the roster by Jeff Pendergraph. Neither was a significant loss, and the starting lineup from last season remains intact, as Parker, Danny Green, Leonard, Tim Duncan and Tiago Splitter all return. Manu Ginobili will surely have his minutes limited this season to keep him fresh for the playoffs.

What Needs To Go Right: Kawhi Leonard needs to continue to build upon his strong play in the NBA Finals against the Miami Heat and take his place among Duncan and Parker in the big three, replacing Ginobili. And as always with the Spurs, they can get by with an injury to Ginobili, but Duncan and Parker must stay healthy for them to compete.

It’s Really Bad If: Tony Parker goes down with an injury. With Ginobili clearly on the downside of his career and Gary Neal having left via free agency, the Spurs’ only very capable ball-handler is Parker. If he were to get injured for an extended period of time, it might be too much for the Spurs to overcome, resulting in a lower playoff seed and a tougher road through the playoffs.

Bold Prediction: Kawhi Leonard continues to develop into a superstar and helps lead San Antonio back to the NBA Finals, where they avenge their loss to the Heat in five games.


Aron Baynes, PF
Strengths: Baynes provides a physical presence down low for the Spurs and offers depth behind Duncan and Splitter.
Weaknesses: Limited offensively, Baynes doesn’t offer much in the form of an offensive game.
Season Prediction: Baynes is unlikely to garner many minutes, but does provide another big body to go up against the Houston Rockets’ Dwight Howard.

Marco Belinelli, SG
Strengths: Perimeter shooting and scoring ability off the bench.
Weaknesses: Not known for his defensive prowess.
Season Prediction: Belinelli was an under-the-radar free-agent signing by the Spurs, but with Manu Ginobili aging, he’ll provide a needed scoring punch off the bench.

Matt Bonner, PF.
Strengths: One of the best spot-up three-point shooters in the league.
Weaknesses: A defensive liability, can’t create his own shot.
Season Prediction: Bonner remains one of the best outside shooters in the NBA, continuing to thrive off double-teams and Parker’s passes off dribble-drives to the basket.

Nando de Colo, PG
Strengths: Ball-handling and outside shooting earned De Colo significant minutes last season.
Weaknesses: While skilled, he often disappears on the defensive end.
Season Prediction: De Colo, who voiced his frustrations last season about his minutes, opted to return to the Spurs and not go overseas, with the hope of contributing. However, he’ll struggle for minutes behind Parker, Cory Joseph and Ginobili.

Boris Diaw, C
Strengths: Despite his physical limitations (i.e., weight), Diaw is among the best passing big men in the game.
Weaknesses: Unwilling to shoot, and due to lack of conditioning, unable to play for extended periods of time.
Season Prediction: Once again will provide depth off the bench for the Spurs as a capable backup to both Duncan and Splitter.

Tim Duncan, PF/C
Strengths: Still among the best big men in the NBA, and with the proper amount of minutes per game, capable of averaging a double-double.
Weaknesses: With the nickname “The Big Fundamental,” it’s hard to find flaws or weaknesses in your game. At this point in his career, the only weakness in Duncan’s game is his minutes limit.
Season Prediction: Gregg Popovich is fined at least once for holding his veteran star out of an intriguing matchup.

Manu Ginobili, SG
Strengths: Ball-handling ability and scoring off the bench. Ginobili is the second-best ball-handler on the Spurs behind Parker.
Weaknesses: Age has started to limit his explosiveness.
Season Prediction: Ginobili will remain a viable option off the bench for the Spurs and put up the occasional high-point game, but he will be replaced by newcomer Belinelli in an attempt to limit his minutes for the playoffs.

Danny Green, SG
Strengths: Green established himself last season as one of the best spot-up three-point shooters in the league. In addition to his shooting, Green has become a solid on-the-ball defender, capable of guarding three positions.
Weaknesses: Ability to score off the dribble.
Season Prediction: Green continues his solid play from last season’s playoff run and not only is the team’s best outside shooter, but also combines with Leonard to form one of the best defensive tandems in the league.

Cory Joseph, PG
Strengths: Joseph’s strength is his on-ball defense, and he’s continued to improve his ball-handling in each of his two seasons with the Spurs.
Weaknesses: While a solid defender, Joseph remains a streaky shooter from the outside.
Season Prediction: Joseph will serve as the primary backup to Parker this season, and with Gary Neal lost to free agency, should see a significant bump in minutes.

Kawhi Leonard, SF
Strengths: On-the-ball defense and rebounding ability are his biggest strengths.
Weaknesses: While improved, Leonard’s streaky shooting remains his biggest weakness.
Season Prediction: Leonard builds upon his play in the postseason last year, makes the All-Defensive First Team, and supplants Ginobili in the big three with Duncan and Parker.

Patty Mills, PG
Strengths: Provides energy and ball-handling off the bench.
Weaknesses: A defensive liability.
Season Prediction: Mills won’t see much playing time, serving as the third point guard behind Parker and Joseph. But he’s capable of providing the occasional scoring punch off the bench.

Tony Parker, PG
Strengths: Mid-range jumper and ability to get to the basket off the dribble.
Weaknesses: Not a strong threat from deep.
Season Prediction: 
Parker manages to stay healthy, is named All-NBA Second Team, and is the primary reason the Spurs return to the NBA Finals.

Tiago Splitter, C
Strengths: Ability to play off of Duncan and score with his back to the basket. Strong post defense.
Weaknesses: Defensive rebounding.
Season Prediction: Splitter continues his development in the NBA and justifies the free-agent contract the Spurs gave him, averaging close to a double-double.

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