The San Antonio Spurs have a problem, but it's a good problem. They've got one roster spot left and a handful, but really two quality candidates to fill it. Eddy Curry and Derrick Brown have both had their high points of the preseason, so has Josh Powell, but the San Antonio Express News' Jeff McDonald wrote over the weekend the silver and black are looking at Curry and Brown for the final roster spot that will give them some added depth up front. The only question remaining is which big guy gets the final spot.
Curry is a low post scorer and a pretty gifted one at that. His problem has always been his weight and whether he can become slightly better than average at anything else. He said all the right things about wanting to work on his defense and rebounding and Coach Gregg Popovich praised his conditioning and said he's done a number of things well. Take a look at what he did against Omer Asik, one of the league's best post defenders the last two seasons. He moves well without the ball and when he gets positioning down low that's almost a guaranteed two points or free throws. Imagine what he'd do to back up big men. What Curry isn't is a guy who can step out and hit a 15 foot jumper. He isn't a pick and roll defender at all and isn't a good post defender, though I suspect he could become decent enough with some teaching that he's never really received in his ten years in the league. Overall, there are worse 15th men in the NBA.
Derrick Brown is the opposite of Curry. He's undersized, athletic and does a lot of things well that don't turn up in the box score. He has the ability to guard both forward positions, which becomes crucial when teams go small and Brown is able to play as the second big. He's also shown a willingness to be really active on both sides of the ball. Brown's range was supposed to be limited, but then he went out and went 4-4 including 1-1 from three. He's also young and presumably still has room to expand his game.
Here's something that's important to remember: Barring some sort of injury, neither Brown or Curry is going to see a ton of minutes. In Brown's case, he likely won't be asked to guard the likes of a Kevin Durant, a Josh Smith or even a Paul Milsap. Similarly, Eddy Curry isn't going to be asked to guard Dwight Howard, Andrew Bynum or any other starting center. So you shouldn't take that into account when you're worrying about either guy's ability to defend.
Here's the main factor I'm looking at: If there's an injury to a member of the Spurs' second unit, which of the two would I rather have in a pinch? Brown is that energy guy you want off the bench, but the Spurs also have DeJuan Blair, Stephen Jackson and Matt Bonner to fill in at the back up four position (I think we're going to see a ton of Stephen Jackson small ball this year). On the contrary, if Tiago Splitter gets hurt, there is a size vacuum for the Spurs to fill. Not that Splitter and Curry in any way do the same stuff, but sometimes it's just a good idea to have an extra seven footer on your team, especially if said seven footer has some skill in the low block, which is important if the jump shots aren't falling for the bench.
So that's a slight endorsement for Eddy Curry. The Spurs don't have a guy with his particular skill set, while they have plenty of undersized power forwards. Having said that, Derrick Brown would instantly become the Spurs most athletic guy and would do a lot of dirty work. If his jumper became somewhat consistent, he could easily take some minutes away from Blair or Bonner. The most important thing to remember is when it's your 15th man, there's not really a wrong choice.
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While I agree with the skill set of Curry and what he did against Omer Asik , I disagree that Curry would not see time against some starting centers.
First, the Spurs should keep Curry. We need a 7 footer who can post up, get fouls on the opposing Bigs, deal with Lakers, Memphis, OKC and even the TimberWolves who swept Spurs last year in the regualr season with Love and the International Center, Nikola Pekovic. All of the aforementioned teams have quality tall bigs. To me, Curry making the team, is a no brainer. Splitter, Blair and Bonner are no match for teams with quality Bigs and that's why they saw limited action in the WCF against OKC.
When Memphis embarressed the Spurs in the playoffs it was not a flook. When OKC who was predicted at the beginning of the season to come out of the west, won 4 in row against the Spurs in WCF, it was not luck. Those two playoff equations are examples of what happens when your weakness is exposed.
I see Curry making the team and his job will be to get 15-25 minutes at playing against bigs like Howard, Gasol, Ibaka and Perkins. Curry will be able to push Howard off the block better than any other Spur. Duncan maybe able to guard Howard, but at this stage in Ducan's career he does not need to guard Howard, the best center in the NBA. This would not be in the best interest of the Spurs over the course of a game or playoff series. (Magic and Bird never guarded each other in the finals) When teams played Shaq they needed at least two centers and 10-11 fouls to guard him. It will be not be any different with Howard.
The days of Duncan (best PF all time NBA, best Spur all time) getting all the fouls to go his way because he is the superstar are over, we saw that in the WCF last year. The Lakers have all ways gotten the calls, but now OKC will get them too and even more since they won the WCF last year and have 4 young superstars (who the Nation wants to see dunk on TV) and Olympians on a team. Please do not IGNORE the mareketabilty side (money) of the NBA. This is a very critical intangible with respect to getting calls from refs. The NBA makes more money when they televise the games that the entire country wants to see. You can see how this is reflected with the nationally televised NBA Schedule.
With respect to Brown, I like what I saw against Orlando. But is Brown better than or have the potential to be better than Bonner? Spurs need more energy for sure, which is important in loose balls. With current roster the Spurs are loosing when it comes to the 50/50 balls. Does Brown have high b-ball IQ? Brown's career numbers are not bad, but not impressive. Is Bonner's lack of production in the past playoffs worth the risk/reward for Brown? Brown appears to weak on rebounding and that's not good, unless he is outstanding on perimeter defense. I like his mobility, so he should be able to play defense. From historical obeservation of basketball, I have noticed that a good left handed athelete can play exceptional good defense on a right-handed shooter. So if Brown makes the team, it would not suprise me to see Coach Pop give him minutes at guarding a Durant, Kobe and other similar players in the regular season. Milsap is a rough, tough PF and is a difficult cover for anybody, so I doubt if Brown could cover Misap or Josh Smith. I mention minutes at guarding Durant and Kobe just in case Lenoard hits sohomore slump. I noticed Lenoard has had problems with his jumper this preseaon and hitting only 24% field. I also do like the fact that he lost weight.
If Brown makes the team, I also see Bonner and/or Blair gone for sure. Otherwise, I think the Spurs will keep Curry.
Just an FYI, when Bonner is not hitting his 3 point shot he is the biggist liability on the team. Some of the best players in the league are playing the 4 spot, which Bonner plays. The Spurs have been among the top team in 3 point shooting the last couple of years and have not won a championship, so they can do without Bonne, since that's all he brings.
Powell did not impress me.
the T-Wolves did not sweep the Spurs last season. both teams won their home games. just sayin'. and despite the fact that we're still a little weak at the frontline, that Memphis series is still a fluke, and it showed when the Spurs played better this past season. we could've won the WCF, but some guys lost their rhythm due to their 1st time in the playoffs (Leonard and Green), and there were some questionable calls in that Game 6. however, i give OKC the credit they deserve because they grew up and played team basketball in the ways of the Spurs. and it's not about the bigs, but also having another athletic guy to help out guard the LeBrons and Durants of the world. that's why the Spurs were/are looking at guys like Brown, Powell, and Witherspoon. we don't necessarily need a 7 footer, just a big man that can help out on defense, and apparently, Curry couldn't do that.
With respect to the playoffs the last two years, Spurs have lost to teams with bigger and better front lines. Once is a fluke (playoffs), but not twice.
Would've, could've, should've just does not cut it and does not win championships. And as I stated earlier, Duncan and the Spurs will no longer get the calls that they used to get, because of the up and coming Thunder. NBA is not only a sport but a business as well.
Your right the Spurs played better against Memphis in the regular season last year but without two staters in Zack Randolph for two of the games and Tony Allen, who was just voted best perimeter defender, missed all 3 games. Regular season and playoffs are two different things. Ya see, regular season does not equal NBA.Championship.
I'm sorry, I miss spoke regarding Timberwolvers and should have stated Timberwolves won season series. My point is that big teams give Spurs problems that's why Spurs were out rebounded by OKC in WCF.
If Coach Pop waives Curry, I have. to sit back and watch.
@PopKat i agree, Duncan can't do it by himself, that's why Splitter, Diaw, and Blair have to step up (I don't think Bonner will help). i understand Diaw and Blair are undersized, but with Diaw actually having a full training camp instead of being thrown into the fire, he could probably help spread the floor which is usually Bonner's role, whereas to Blair, if he actually gets playing time and shows that he can keep the weight off, he can use that physicality to bounce around with the other big guys. and i, for one, think Splitter can improve a little more because he didn't actually have a full training camp as well (thanks to his injury in his first year and the lockout in his second) until this season.
first, Durant is the only superstar on that team. Westbrook and Harden might be All-Stars (Harden isn't one yet), but not superstars. and it doesn't matter that they're Olympian perimeter players, Duncan, Ginobili, and Parker were/are Olympians too. yes, stats do help, but it's not just about stats, go ask the Spurs fans at Pounding The Rock and they'll tell ya. and i don't see Collison better than Splitter, Diaw, and Blair, and you can even look at their stats, and it shows. and when's the next time Ibaka's going 11-11 on a night like that? that's not going to happen all the time. sometimes, you get a bit of luck and luck was not our side. not to mention, the refs made some questionable calls in Game 6 and some of Ibaka's blocks in that series were actually goaltending, and he was never called for it. and the fact is the Spurs were up 2-0, so they can beat OKC, and could've beaten them in that series. all in all, sorry to say, there are would've, could've, should've's, but as i said before, i give the Thunder credit because they are a great team, and Durant showed why he is right there competing with LeBron for best player in the league. and while i might not look at things objectively often, i did say the Thunder and the Lakers are the two teams i'm concerned with, and they are the best two teams in the West. however, i'm not going to say they're unbeatable because they can be beaten as well.
yea, i agree, Hack-a-Splitter did throw off the rhythm, but Howard's gonna be in the game more often than Splitter because he's a star. Splitter only played about 20 minutes a game, while Howard might be playing almost double that, thus, the more chances to use that strategy. plus, with all the added guys the Lakers have, i don't know how well they'll mesh up, so yea, we'll see how good of a coach Mike Brown actually is because it's on him if his system doesn't go well.
if the Grizzlies stay healthy, they'll be a threat. they're a good team, but they're basically the same team minus Mayo now, and not having his scoring might hurt them. but again, it's not just about stats. and it's not just Randolph and Gasol were good against us in that series, but Conley outplayed Parker, so Parker had to redeem himself and did by becoming an All-Star again and a MVP candidate last season. also, the Spurs entered that Grizzlies series not healthy, as we saw what happened with Ginobili, breaking his elbow in the last game of that season, and even though he was able to come back in the series, we could tell he wasn't comfortable with that brace. same with Duncan when he rolled his ankle a few games before that series, but he was back in time before it even started. and yes, i know Gay wasn't part of it, but we don't know how he would have reacted if he had come back. so again i say, that series was a fluke, and now that we have Leonard, Green, Jackson, and Diaw on the team (guys that were not part of that series), i feel firmly confident that the Spurs are still better than the Grizzlies.
i feel bad for the T-Wolves for losing Love and Rubio for quite some time, and they might still be better than some of the teams with Adelman because he is a great coach, but it's bad luck because they might not make the playoffs for losing games w/out Love and Rubio. like i said, sometimes a bit of luck has to go your way.
look, i can see this argument continuing and we won't agree on everything, but i'm done with this for now. by all means, if you need to reply back at this, go for it. i might not say much after that or i might not comment back because i've moved on to other subjects. on that note, i still will say our Spurs can still compete at a title. it might not be as big of a shot like the Heat, OKC, and Lakers, but it's a decent one.
I see we are both true Spur fans with different perceptions. Your pespective is subjective while I'm objective.
Jazz and Clippers have good front lines in which Duncan was good enough to offset by himself, but they are not great, not better than OKC's or the Lakers front line.. Duncan cannot offset OKC's front line or the Lakers by himself he needs help. When Duncan goes out for a rest, the lane is wide open for anybody to attach the rim and we also lose rebounding.
Now when you add 3 superstar Olympian perimeter players with Perkins and Ibaka up you got OKC beating the Spurs in WCF and it aint no could've would've should've. In OKC's system, Ibaka and Perkins do not have to be superstars and even Collison is better than our bigs other than Duncan. How we loss to OKC in WCF shows up in WCF stats among the bigs, in points, blocks and with Ibaka going 11 of 11. When Ibaka went 11 of 11 it was a huge turning point in the series. Just look at the playoff stats and you'll see. Even though you subjectively may not care, I hope you look at the sats objectively.
I agree with you they we will need to use Hack a Howard, but what about Hack a Splitter. When Tiago could not hit his free throws in WCF none of us saw it coming, which was also a turning point in how we played defense because Splitter was useless after that. This may or may not balance it self out if the Spurs play the Lakers in the playoffs. But one thing for sure if we use Hack-a-Howard against the Lakers, Howard will not become totally useless.
Curry and Brown were waived and it must have been while I was responding to the article. Although I grew up in Dallas and watched the Dallas Chapperls play in SMU's Moody Coliseum I know longer live in TX and do not get Spurs information as fast as anyone in San Antolnio.
I hope your right that the Spurs have time to find another big, because the Spurs do not want to face a Howard and Gasol with Duncan as the only front line threat. Howard will be monster on the blocks in the playoffs with Kobe, Nash and Gasol. We will find out how good of a coach, Brown is.
I know your not concerned with the Grizzles, but if they stay healthy they are a major contender. When you look at how the Grizzles embarrssed the Spurs the playoffs two years ago, the stats of the Grizzles bigs stand out vs the Spurs bigs. Again I know you may not care, may not want to look but you should look objectively.
Timberwolves have Love (8 weeks) and Rubio (acl long time) hurt already, so they may not come together just yet, but with Adelman, their head coach is one of the best coaches in the league without and NBA championship.
@PopKat what about the Jazz and Clippers? they have good frontlines too, and we got through them in the playoffs. not all big teams give Spurs problems and they are ways to solve the other teams. Pop is the one that's going to have to figure it out. it's not just about the bigs in this league. and no one has to tell me that regular season does not equal NBA championships, i'm not stupid.
i could care less about how well we did against Memphis last year, even if Randolph and Allen were injured. as a whole, the Spurs did better last season than the season before. and as far as i'm concern, the Thunder and Lakers are the only 2 teams i'm concerned about. The Grizzlies, Clippers, Wolves, and whoever else in the West don't scare me.
and the Spurs can still get calls, but the refs need to a better job. the Spurs still could've won that series, but again i say, i'm giving credit to the Thunder for growing and learning. yes their frontline is great but let's be honest, Ibaka and Perkins are not All-Stars. yes, the Lakers, on the other hand, are one to worry about with Howard and Gasol together, but you can exploit their weaknesses too, for example, using Hack-a-Howard.
as far as trying to find another big, there's time between now and the trade deadline. by the way, the Spurs have already waived Curry and Brown, which leaves Powell and Witherspoon left. anyways as far as i'm concerned, the Spurs are still in the mix, even if they are right behind OKC and LA.