Project Spurs kicks off its San Antonio Spurs 2013-14 season preview with an article from Paramjit Mahal on the two newest Spurs - Marco Belinelli and Jeff Ayres.
With the bad taste of the NBA Finals still in their mouths, the San Antonio Spurs set forth during the off season to shore up the bench that was a shell of what it was during the regular season.
With that in mind, the Spurs brought in Marco Belinelli and Jeff Ayres in order increase the fire power and the depth coming off of the bench and help Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker stay healthy for a final playoff push to get title No. 5.
In Belinelli, the Spurs are getting a solid option to pair up with Ginobili to run the second unit.
His efficient game will fit in well with the Spurs. He will be ready when the ball is kicked out to him from either the low post or off the drive to the basket. Belinelli 39% field goal percentage will help create more opportunity for the Spurs’ 3 point shooters. His 80%+ free throw percentage shows that he will be a great asset come end of game situations.
During his first three seasons, Ayres has seen limited playing time and spent his time developing his game to become NBA ready. Ayres was brought in to give Aron Baynes competition battling for playing time behind Duncan, Boris Diaw and Tiago Splitter. He will need to become better at cleaning the glass if he hopes to see the floor this up coming season.
Of the two, I see Belinelli making the larger impact, but tell me what do you expect out of the Spurs’ two new additions Spurs’ fans?
Not saying Neal and Blair were better, but I feel like I'm the only Spurs fan not impressed with those two additions. When you're role players, you better bring one thing to the game that is elite. Danny's 3 point shooting. Kawhi's defense. Bonner's 3 shooting. Diaw's passing.
Marco and Ayers doesn't seem to have those traits.
Yes, Marco handles the ball better than Gary Neal and a better passer. Gary, arguably is the better shooter/scorer, albeit with a worse shot selection. But on this team, come playoff time, it's not like we'll start letting Marco create. When each and every possession becomes crucial, it'll go to Duncan, Parker, Manu, and Kawhi before it gets to anyone else.
Same with Ayers. All the things he does is average. You can call him solid, but he doesn't do anything that can be considered elite, or even above average. He runs the floor well, but hasn't shown to be a great finisher. Has a midrange jumper, but not one you would consider automatic. He hustles, but hasn't shown to be a great rebounder/shotblocker/steals or things like that. I call him decent. Not solid.
I expect them to contribute during the regular season. My hunch says Bonner will eventually beat out Ayers because he brings an elite skill to the team. None of our bigs can stretch the floor like Bonner. And despite Gary Neal's flaws, 50% of the time, he gives us a huge scoring spark. Marco never was a scorer and I'm not really sure where he'll make this mark on this team.
I like what I am seeing from Ayers and what he can bring to the team but Aaron Baynes has really proven that he did work on his game during the offseason. He has a tremendous upside and is a big body down-low. Health is going to be the key factor for the Spurs again this year. I think if Baynes continues to produce during the regular season he will surely get more minutes.
Belinelli many fans are hoping will make a big impact for the team as he did when he was in Chicago. His shooting is definitely what will help San Antonio. When Ginobili and Parker are penetrating into the paint, they have the talent to kick-out to the shooters and Belinelli I feel will make the most of his chances.
I know Ayers was given more time yesterday against Orlando, but I'm really liking what I see from Baynes. He is a big body who can move, and he is developing some respectable offensive skills. If he keeps working hard and stays healthy, I can see him pushing Diaw, and perhaps even Splitter in certain circumstances (D. Howard and Houston in particular!). Also, Patty Mills just won't quit. He has gotten himself in good shape, and is bringing energy to the court as well as results. I like his shooting percentage, and his steals yesterday. If it isn't for the Spurs, Patty is going to earn court time from somebody ...
@DevinDixen I'm assuming you haven't seen Belinelli play during this preseason (or last season in Chicago). I was there at the preseason game last night and let me tell you, Marco can not only score but he handles the ball better and passes the ball better than Neal. So, like many other Spurs fans have said, Belinelli is an upgrade over Neal. And I also believe Ayres is already an upgrade over Blair because of the height. He played well too last night.
@DevinDixen I don't agree. The fact of the matter is that an 82 game season is too long. There are too many meaningless games. Marco and Jeff are absolutely critical to soaking up minutes so that Tim and Manu don't have to play as much. Yes, Jeff isn't going to win a game for us in a Western Conference Final or NBA Final, but could be very helpful during the regular season, and against first or second round playoff opponents. Marco is a different beast. I think he can provide a significant amount of help against the Thunder, Clippers, or Heat. I think you make a mistake there.
@MOlsen I agree with you on Baynes. He has a big body and he proved during the playoffs last year that he will not be afraid to body up his counterparts. As far as pushing Diaw, I am not sure. Diaw is a factor in the Spurs offense. His passing ability is great for a big man. He also can bring bigs away if he is hitting a mid-range jumper too. But I do like Baynes.
As for Mills. You have to love his spirit and fight when he gets into the game. He makes the most out of his opportunities and that is what Spurs fans love about him, as well as any other player that comes off of the bench.
@MOlsen @DevinDixen I agree with MOlsen and would add that sometimes a more well rounded player thats good at almost everything is preferable to a niche guy that only excels in one aspect of the game. I think Marcos ability to handle the ball and pass better than Neal while shooting very near the same percentages, will add to the Spurs flexibility. And if Marco ends up being only a bit better defender than Neal, then that would only add to the likelihood that Marco will turn out to be the better choice for that spot. The fact that Marco could also play sf in spurts if needed pretty much cements my opinion that Marco will add more tha Neal could have.