By Robby Lim
The Spurs season is still in its infancy but so far it would seem the Spurs can’t find a groove. There are times they look a step slow on defense and times where they can’t find their shooting touch.
Some Spurs fans might get easily worried or frustrated about the slow start and rightfully so. After seeing the summer acquisitions, and the hype surrounding the Spurs heading into the new season, it’s perfectly normal to get excited and expect immediate results. But the truth is it doesn’t work that way. Having great talent is one thing. Building team chemistry is another.
Now you might ask why do teams like the the Lakers, Celtics, Nuggets and even the Suns have all great starts, while the Spurs have struggled?
Those teams didn’t change their roster as much as the Spurs did. The Lakers basically swapped Ariza for Artest. The Celtics simply added Rasheed Wallace and Marquis Daniels to the mix. The Nuggets retained their core and drafted Ty Lawson and signed Aaron Afflalo while the Suns returned to their old running game while acquiring Frye.
The Spurs, on the other hand, are almost an entirely new team. They’ve added new pieces in Richard Jefferson, Antonio McDyess and DeJuan Blair. They also added Theo Ratliff, Keith Bogans and Marcus Haislip, all who need time to develop chemistry among themselves and with the returning players from last year's Spurs team.
The point is that the other teams mentioned are quite familiar with each other. They retained their core and have fewer guys that need to learn the system. For a team game like basketball, familiarity and chemistry are of great importance. It’s one thing to add a piece or two, but having a roster overhaul is a different story.
It is also important to note that despite their early struggles, the Spurs starters are getting a lot of rest. In five games, no Spur has averaged at least 30 minutes of playing time. This means Pop is not forcing it. He’s still in the "break in" mode so to speak.
As Pop put it, "the chemistry between the new Spurs and old Spurs — the learners and returners, is still a work in progress."
Pop has his work cut out for him. This year is probably the most challenging chapter in his coaching career. If the Spurs are to compete for a title, the learning curve for the newcomers needs to be shortened.
Championship teams are not built overnight. It’s a process and for a team like the Spurs, positive results might take a while.
With that being said, I’m inclined to believe the Spurs will continue to improve as the season goes on. By mid January or early February, it’s safe to say that we could see a different Spurs team. A team that is more focused, winning, and passed chemistry 101 with flying colors.
Please leave us your thoughts on the Spurs slow start and if it is more to it than just a chemistry issue.