2010-2011 Season Preview: San Antonio Spurs

Overview

Don’t be fooled by an under-performing season from the Spurs last season. The core of this team (Parker, Duncan, Ginobili) remains one of the most potent cores in the league, and the interjection of young talent, specifically Dejuan Blair and Tiago Splitter, this season could be a bounce-back year for the team that will never die.

Roster

Name Pos Yrs 2009-10 Stats
James Anderson* G R
DeJuan Blair F-C 1 7.8 PPG, 6.4 RPG
Matt Bonner F-C 6 7.0 PPG, 3.3 RPG
Marcus Cousins* F R
Tim Duncan F 13 17.9 PPG, 10.1 RPG
Alonzo Gee* G 1 7.4 PPG, 3.0 RPG
Manu Ginobili G 8 16.5 PPG, 4.9 APG
George Hill G 2 12.4 PPG, 2.6 RPG
Richard Jefferson F 9 12.3 PPG, 4.4 RPG
Antonio McDyess F-C 14 5.8 PPG, 5.9 RPG
Gary Neal* G R
Tony Parker G 9 16.0 PPG, 5.7 APG
Bobby Simmons* F 8 5.3 PPG, 4.0 APG
Tiago Splitter* F R
Garrett Temple G 1 6.2 PPG, 1.1 RPG

* New to team

Head Coach: Greg Popovich
Assistant Coaches: Mike Budenholzer, Don Newman, Brett Brown, Chip Engelland, Chad Forcier

Meaningful Offseason Moves

  • Drafted James Anderson and Ryan Richards
  • Signed Gary Neal for 3-years, $38.8 million
  • Signed Tiago Splitter for 3-years, $10 million
  • Signed Matt Bonner for 4-years, $16 million

Why the Spurs are Contenders

First things first, 2009-2010 wasn’t a great season for the Spurs. Two of the Spurs big three  had off seasons last year, with Duncan and Parker looking at several season averages down against their career numbers. Only Manu Ginobili saw increases one his key stats, and even then, it was slight:

Tim Duncan

  • 17.9 PPG (2009) down from 21.1 PPG (career)
  • 10.1 RPG (2009) down from 11.6 RPG (career)
  • 1.5 BPG (2009) down from 2.3 BPG (career)

Tony Parker

  • 16.0 PPG (2009) down from 16.6 PPG (career)
  • 0.5 SPG (2009) down from 1.0 SPG (career)
  • 12.8 FGA (2009) down from 13.5 FGA (career)

Manu Ginobili

  • 16.5 PPG (2009) up from 15.0 PPG (career)
  • 1.5 SPG (2009) up from 1.4 SPG (career)
  • 12.0 FGA (2009) up from 10.6 (career).

In the case of Tony Parker, it’s important to keep in mind that he was sidelined for 26 games due to a plantar fascia injury, but really, all three players were struggling through the first half of the season.

Not only that, but the additions of Richard Jefferson and Antonio McDyess didn’t provide any meaningful assistance as their season numbers went 12.3 PPG, 4.4 RPG and 5.8 PPG, 5.9 RPG respectively.

Things changed in March, however, as suddenly the Spurs started to make some noise again. They rolled into the playoffs and handled the Mavs in 6 before the Suns swept them in the second round.

So why do I think the Spurs are going to bounce back and return to contender status?

a) I don’t think Duncan or Parker are done.
b) I think they have two of the best young big men in the game.
c) They still have one of the best coaches in the league, the kind of coach that can turn Splitter and Blair into stars.

One important thing to keep in mind is that Tiago Splitter is an incredible talent. He’s the reigning Spanish League MVP, he won the Spanish Supercup MVP twice (2006, 2007), he made the all-euroleague 1st team in 2008 and the 2nd team in 2009 and 2010 and he’s won two gold medals with Team Brazil for the 2005 and 2009 FIBA Americas Championship and and another gold medal for Brazil for the 2003 Pan Am games.

Or, to put it in more immediately relevant terms, he’s a 6’11” center who is not afraid to body up with the big men of the league.  He made Lamar Odom look like he was just another center at the FIBA tournament this summer.

He may not light the league on fire – though he might – but take a look at who he’s playing alongside. If Splitter gets going, he’ll immediately be a big help for Duncan, who will benefit by not being the cause of constant double teams. Add an improving DeJuan Blair into the mix, and you’ve got a combination of powerful interior players.

Assuming Parker stays healthy, Ginobili stays active, and Coach Pop and get some help from Richard Jefferson and Antonio McDyess, suddenly you have a very stodgy, very defensive minded squad.

Is it enough to stop the Lakers? Hard to say, but I will say this. It does seem like this squad could go toe-to-toe with the Lakers interior game, and I think if things go right for the Spurs, they’d give Odom, Bynum and Gasol all they could handle.

Video

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~ by djepperson on October 25, 2010.

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