The regular season is nearing and the San Antonio Spurs will be in the hunt for title number five but unlike their championship teams, the team's defense isn't as strong.
Their best defender is arguably Kawhi Leonard with Tim Duncan following but after that, the team is made up of decent defenders but not the type to bring the Spurs back to their past defensive ways which led them to four titles.
During training camp, the Spurs have been stating defense is being stressed such as Manu Ginobili but Danny Green also feels the team needs to improve in this area adding pick-and-roll defense as a weakness last season.
"Getting back on transition defense and half court defense, you know, getting better at pick-and-roll defense," he said. "That was one of our weaknesses last year, pick-and-roll defense, and we want to be more efficient offensively. But defense is the biggest key."
The Thunder ran the pick-and-roll during last season's playoff series which ended up in the Spurs losing 4-2 in the Western Conference Finals. Moreover, the Spurs defense has slipped in recent years.
In 2007-08 the team held teams to 90.6 points per game (3rd in the league) and had a defensive rating of 101.8 (3rd in the league). In 2008-09, the team had a spike, holding teams to 93.3 points per game good for 2nd in the NBA but the team's defensive rating spiked to 104.3 points allowed per 100 possessions. In the 2009-10 season, San Antonio finished 8th in points allowed at 96.3 (defensive rating at 104.5 points). In 2010-11 the Spurs allowed 98 points good for 14th place in the NBA (defensive rating at 105.6 points) and last season the team allowed 96.5 points per game placing them 16th in the league (defensive rating at 103.2 points).
We saw a small, but noticeable, shift in mindset from offense to defense last year (especially when compared to the season before that). I'm hoping we expand on that with Kawhi's development and Danny Green's experience.
And you should mention Manu as the third best defender. He has great hands on defense and is most definitely fearless and draws a charge like no other.