After failing to reach the NBA finals for two consecutive seasons and with the core aging, the Spurs did their best to build a roster that is arguably the most talented and deepest in recent years. This was done in the hopes of returning to the NBA throne as champions.
But as it turned out, the pieces have not fallen into place for the Spurs. At least not yet.
They struggled early on in the season partly because of chemistry issues, partly due to the decline of their once dominant defense and partly due to inconsistent play. Losing to depleted teams, not sustaining leads, and an overall lack of a "killer instinct" have cost the Spurs wins and made fans want to pull their hair out.
To add more misery, the Spurs have dealt with injuries to their key players. Most notably Tony Parker who has dealt with a list of injuries this season and will miss the remainder of the regular season due to a hand injury.
Despite all this, the Spurs are currently in seventh place in the Western Conference playoff race, have a winning record, and are on a three-game winning streak.
So how did the Spurs manage all this when it sounds like doom and gloom in San Antonio? You can look at their stellar bench play, or coach Pop but the answer is simple. Like in the past when the going gets tough, they turned to their old reliables -- Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili.
Both have been important cogs in the Spurs machine this season.
Spurs fans hear how Duncan is on the decline but he is proving his detractors wrong this season. Manu, while starting off slow, is finally looking like the Manu Spurs fans know. He is the spark for this Spurs team.
However, this leads to the question, "Who is the Spurs' MVP this season?" With the NBA regular season winding down and with NBA fans already talking about the league MVP, why can't Spurs fans begin to discuss who is the team's MVP?
With that being said, let's take a closer look at both of these spectacular players and what they have done this season.
Duncan continues to be the steady foundation for the Spurs. After 61 games this season, he led the team in scoring, rebounds and blocked shots averaging 18.7 points, 10.4 rebounds and 1.64 blocks. His 73.8% shooting from the stripe and 51.3% field goal shooting are both good for third best in his career. And he has done all these while averaging a career low of 31.8 minutes per game.
Besides that, Duncan's dedication to winning and loyalty to the Spurs are unquestioned. After a battle with tendinitis which limited his effectiveness last year, Duncan agreed with Coach Popovich to start his offseason workouts a month later, sans the tire tossing.
He also worked hard in the offseason to shed 15 pounds since a lighter frame would lessen the burden on his knees. With the way he is playing this season, I would say it worked.
Manu started the season out of sync due to injuries and coming off a long offseason of not playing ball but has played better basketball since February. In 59 games, he has averaged 14.7 points 4.8 assist and 1.5 steals. His 86.7% free throw shooting and 4.8 assist per game are both career highs and his 1.5 steals per game leads the team this season.
More importantly, Manu's recent resurgence and great clutch plays have given enough hope that this season is not lost. After seven games this month, the Spurs are 6-1 as Ginobili leads the team with 18.9 points and 6 assist while shooting 54% from the field and 91.3% from the free throw line.
When Duncan is having an off night, the Spurs can usually rely on Ginobili to pick up the slack. And it's not uncommon for Spurs fans to hear the following "The Spurs go as Manu goes."
But more than just stats, Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili remain the leaders of the Spurs. On the court, they provide the young Spurs the veteran leadership which cannot be summed up in a statistical analysis. If they can sustain their level of play as the post-season approaches, it will not be surprising to see the Spurs make a strong winning run towards the end of regular season.
Nonetheless, the question still remains who is the Spurs' MVP this season? Is it Duncan or Ginobili? Am I out of my mind to even think it's anyone else on the team besides Duncan? You decide! Tell us what you think.