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NBA Market Watch: Preview-San Antonio Spurs

NBA Market Watch: Preview-San Antonio Spurs
Oct 04, 2007, 12:23 am
Off Season Overview:

San Antonio could be excused somewhat for keeping the status quo during this past off season. The team is coming off another NBA championship and has managed their finances well. Going into next season, the club will have some wiggle room to add some younger veteran talent to support their triple threat of Duncan, Parker, and Ginobili.

This past off season’s biggest move was probably the acquisition of Tiago Splitter via the draft. Splitter fell to the low end of his draft range due to buyout complications that will keep him overseas for another year. But Splitter is a talented frontcourt role player who should transition into the Spurs rotation seamlessly when he does arrive.

The addition of Splitter makes the loss of Luis Scola more palatable. Scola has been a highly productive European star and was traded to division rival Houston. Splitter has better prototypical size and should be a better defender on the NBA level.

Ime Udoka could pay dividends as the heir-apparent to the aging Bruce Bowen. Udoka got some respect for his work as a defensive presence at the wing for Portland and San Antonio moved quickly to secure his services, at a bargain price at that. He should give the Spurs reliable perimeter shooting and intelligent team defense.

Marcus Williams was another pick who could pay dividends down the road for the Spurs, but he’ll have to work hard to stick around. Williams has a lot of talent but hasn’t realized his full potential and was considered a disappointment at Arizona. If he keeps his head down and puts in the time he may find himself a niche eventually. The Spurs preferred he go overseas after a disappointing summer league campaign, but Williams forced the issue and now finds himself on the team’s training camp roster.

Depth Chart:

[c]courtesy of Synergy Sports Tech: Figure represents NBA percentile rank[/c]

Strengths:

Continuity is the key word for this club. They may be getting long in the tooth in terms of their supporting cast, but the chemistry and familiarity these players have with each other allows the Spurs to operate with clockwork precision.

There were times last season where the team lagged a bit in terms of depth of talent, but the Spurs simply win by limiting mistakes and executing their system to perfection. Their balance on offense and defense and the ability to dictate the pace of the game, no matter whom the opponent, is their greatest strength.

Fabricio Oberto significantly increased his productivity in his second year with the club. The combination of Oberto and Elson gave San Antonio some frontcourt stability beyond Duncan for the first time since David Robinson retired.

Michael Finley saw a drop in his productivity for a third straight year, but his move into the starting lineup allowed Manu Ginobili to increase his effectiveness. Finley is still a productive offensive player, and functions well as a 4th option in his limited touches.

Brent Barry was also a solid contributor off the bench, seeing a spike in production from his past couple of seasons. Barry is one of the most offensively efficient players in the league, highly effective in executing his role.


Weaknesses:

Youth is the operative word here. The Spurs veteran experience makes them lethally efficient, but the component parts of that efficiency will need replacing soon enough.

Robery Horry and Bruce Bowen are the two most prominent examples of father time catching up with the Spurs. Both players have been integral parts of the team’s rotation, but both have lost effectiveness over the past couple of seasons. Both players are capable of vintage moments, but the volume of those performances has dropped below a certain threshold and each will need replacing soon.

The Spurs also have little depth at the point guard position. Jacque Vaughn and Beno Udrih could be considered sub-standard backups on a title contending team, and the team should be looking for a quality guard in the free agent market.

Outlook:

The Spurs are still one of the top teams in the league, but it wouldn’t be surprising if age caught up with them this season. Some may argue that if it wasn’t for the postseason shenanigans against the Suns, the Spurs may not have won last season.

Regardless of circumstance, the Spurs will be in a position to play the free agent market and re-tool their ensemble cast next off season. As long as their main three weapons are playing effectively, the Spurs will remain in the title hunt. Tim Duncan is still in his prime and that always makes San Antonio a factor.

The addition of Splitter next year, coupled with a shrewd off season should help the Spurs replenish themselves for the back nine of Duncan’s championship contending prime.

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