With the initial games of the 2013-14 NBA season now just hours away, perhaps now is an opportune time to consider which San Antonio Spurs players may have solidified spots in the rotation with their respective camp and preseason performances.
Let's start with the virtual "locks" to be starting in the Spurs lineup this season.
I'm simply using last year starters as the likely starters again. Tony Parker, Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, Tim Duncan, and Tiago Splitter are in my mind, "no-brainers" as the starting five.
It's the bench that certainly will see changes this year, and possibly not just because of the Spurs newest additions, Marco Bellinelli, and Jeff Ayers.
I see both of these guys getting PT early in the season to help get them accustomed to the players as well as the system. Jeff will very likely only see minutes as backup PF, while I can easily see Marco getting time at both wing positions, and possibly short stretches as a primary ball-handler. My opinion is that both of these guys will end up fitting better with the Spurs than the players they are replacing.
I expect Manu to continue to be a leader of the bench squad, and hopefully he will bounce back from a disappointing year, and be able to contribute in crunch time as well. I think the addition of Marco will help Manu considerably, by taking some pressure off of him by helping with ball handling and such when they are on the court together.
I think Diaw will continue being one of the first bigs off the bench, and expect we will also see him serve spot duty at sf spot in relief of Kawhi depending on match-ups of course.
Here is where it starts to get interesting. Considering the individual performances of our trio of possible backup point guards over the summer, I find myself hard pressed to not give Patty Mills the edge over CoJo for the backup PG position this year. Not only has Patty come into camp in very good shape, he has been pretty consistently good throughout the preseason.
While playing the 4th lowest minutes per game thus far, he has actually turned that into the 4th highest points per game among the Spurs at a solid 10 PPG in only 16 MPG. All that said, I think Pop will likely continue with CoJo as primary backup just because he defends better than Patty and Nando. But I also expect Patty to get more looks this year as well.
And speaking of Nando, I'm thinking he will be wearing street clothes more than a few times this season. He has just been that under whelming. I just don't see him being a regular rotation guy.
If Ayres and Baynes step up big, will Tiago Roundball become expendable to those teams that wanted to pay him big during this past offseason?
I would love to see Jeff Ayers as TD twin tower...why...??? I know that guy can play NUSTY...and the bench TIAGO, DIAW, MARCO, MANU, MILL...AND BAYNES this is his year....!!
Can't wait. I know Marco B. is going to make life easier on Manu. Now, Manu has someone that can create for him as well. Instead of him creating for the entire bench. That's to much for him at this point. Marco will help Manu have a solid year. Great things to come from these guys!
The same starting 5. Bobo for Split, Manu for icy/hot, Baynes for TD, Cojo for TP, Bello for KL. Mills and Bonner to provide explosive points, Ayers for banging and mid range J's. Manu will have a great year, DG, KL, and Cojo will improve, TP will rest more than usual and we will avenge game 6, by winning it all. Go Spurs!
Good job Kevin. I think Pop is going to do all he can to make sure TD, Manu, TP, Kawhi AND Boris are all fresh as possible for the playoffs. I think TD and Manu's minutes get monitored the most, but with Parker and Boris both having a lot of mileage on their legs as well, especially after the summer, I think Pop is going to regulate their minutes a bit more.
I think Kawhi plays 36-38 on a typical night, but there will be some games, due to his tendency to tweak his knees, Pop sits him after 18-20. With Marco on board he can do that.
I think Baynes quietly proved himself in the pre-season. He averaged just about 51% from the field, played physical and rebounded well for minutes he was given. There ARE some teams with muscle that Pop will need him. He's the only guy we have with that kind of size and physicality. I also think if my theory on more rest is true, then Ayres and Baynes should get plenty of good looks.
Bonner is (and always has been) the conundrum to me. He can deliver in the regular season when he's on a hot streak. He is a proven non-factor in the playoffs as a scorer and is a defensive liability. At what point in the TD era-especially as it closes- do you (if you're Pop) keep giving minutes to a guy you KNOW you aren't going to use in the playoffs? It would make more sense to me to give Baynes and Ayres every opportunity to develop. Perhaps one of them if not both can be used in the playoffs. Then again, they are both young, so there is value in adding a veteran big (gee, a guy like Mahinmi or even Epke Udoh-that kind of skill set, would be nice to add to the mix in the worse case scenario-TD goes down for a stretch).
I just think our guys are watching the waiver wires and are on the phones getting a feel for what they can and cannot do. Teams get more desperate closer to the trade deadline. As long as our guys are healthy they can afford to hold out for a better deal.
As for CoJo and Mills-this is my line of thinking now: I agree with you about Mills being more worthy. I still think the Spurs will be scouring the waiver wires and/or considering trades to get a vet pg to back up Tony. That said, between CoJo and Mills, Mills gives the Spurs something Joseph can't-the guy can heat up and score in volumes.
There could be times, when playing small ball, that it would be advantageous in short stretches to run TP and Mills in the back court together with either Manu or Marco at the 3 and Kawhi at the 4. That would be one seriously quick team with guys that can push the ball at the 1-4 position. Would be helpful in stretches against teams like Golden State or to counter 'Big Ball' in small doses against teams like Houston-it's how Miami forced us to play small ball.
Personally, I would like to send CoJo, Nando and Bonner (hey, veteran big guys with expiring contracts are attractive to a lot of teams) elsewhere so we can address one of our needs and maybe get a pick.
MarkCuban has great points. I would like to see Pop roll deep with his rotation through the playoffs. He can only do that though if 1) He does it all season, and 2) The guys earn his trust. I think we've got all kinds of potential matchup problems we can create with this roster. Would be nice to Pop exploit those in the playoffs
I agree with you that we should see the starters minutes turned down during the regular season but at the same time when do they get turned up?
During the playoff run last year it looked like Parker, Manu and Tim got tired when all of a sudden they where being counted on for 35 and 40 minute nights when they didn't play them all year. As a head coach this has got to be a tough call for when the time is right. You play them too much at the end of the season to condition them for increased minutes and you get killed by the fans and media when one gets hurt but if they can't handle the 40 minute nights they run out of gas because they have not played a 40 minute night all season. Especially Parker who is running all over the court when he is playing and now tack on 10 more minutes that he is not use too. It is a total catch 22.
I will stick to my coaching from the keyboard. Pop can have it.
I'm really hoping to see a lot of the bench this year. Duncan, Parker, Green, and Leonard are going to log a LOT of minutes. We need quality and quantity minutes from Splitter, Diaw, Bellineli,Joseph and Mills. Baynes and Ayers need to shoulder a big load against bruising bigs. 82 games is just too many. I think we need 8-16 games where Duncan, Parker, Ginobli, Leonard, and maybe even Green don't play a minute. An NBA Championship is won in the playoffs, and it will require winning games on the road, and the HEALTHIEST team likely has the advantage. That means keeping minutes off of the primary players, even if it means losing some games. It also means the reserves will have more experience, and may be more capable come playoff time ...
@gruelingslate His contract would be trade-able imo. There are less skilled bigs out there on bigger deals. That said, Ayers will VERY likely not outplay TS, and Baynes still has much to learn.
@SCOLFIELD1421 I love Ayers (Ayres) however you want to spell it. I agree the kid is straight nasty and has a nose for the ball. I have a great feeling about the guys that we did bring in and know they will provide some good minutes for the team.
@gymbear Hey gymbear, can you run a yellow highlighter over the important lines I will need to know for the test?
@gymbear Great points as usual GB.
@MarkCubanisaDouche Lol..very good points. I would ramp up PT for starters 5-7 games before POs. But ranking at that point would be a consideration for me as well. We need home court this year
@FranzA Isn't that the truth! I think MY hook shot looks better and I don't even play bb.
@MOlsen These are very good points that you have made. I agree with you and would not be mad if the starters do not play a minute during some of the games this season. We need full strength in the playoffs and that is where all the minutes from the veterans are going to need to be.