By Jordan Rivas, Staff Writer
Through the first three games of the regular season, Matt Bonner has started in the Spurs frontcourt alongside Tim Duncan, which is leaving some Spurs fans bewildered.
Last season, he saw significant time as a starter, playing with the first team 67 out of the 81 games he played. But at the start of this season, the sight of Bonner in the starting lineup has raised some questions. With so many moves being pulled in the offseason, many fans expected to see a Spurs starting five with at least a couple of new faces, such as veteran forward/center Antonio McDyess.
Three games in, however, Bonner starts and McDyess is on the bench. Bonner's play (8.3 points and 3.3 boards per, with 39 percent from 3pt range) would suggest he's capable of playing at least as well as he did starting last year. However given the up and down season the Spurs had in 08-09, the way it ended in the playoffs against the Mavericks and coupled with their spectacular offseason, there are those who would say that's just not good enough.
For the sake of brevity and objectivity, we're quickly going to run down a few pros and cons of Matt Bonner starting.
Bonner's range from the perimeter spreads the floor. At 6' 10", Bonner is a serious threat from behind the arch, hitting over 40 percent from 3-point range over his career. Having someone who plays the four out on the perimeter creates more driving lanes for guards and provides more real estate for Duncan to work.
Pairing a sharp shooting forward with a stellar pivot man works well. For example Robert Horry with Shaq or Duncan. There's just something that clicks when you put a nontraditional, three point shooting four man who can toss a decent post entry pass to a premier center. It frees up room down on the blocks and potentially puts four three-point threats out on the perimeter instead of three. This isn't just a nice benefit to have. It's a proven ingredient for a championship team.
Starting Bonner now will conserve McDyess for the post season. This is a counter-intuitive and often overlooked point. McDyess is 35-years-old and while he certainly has some stuff left in the tank, managing long term fatigue for veteran players is always an issue. Whether you believe Bonner should be starting or not, no one can deny it's going to help McDyess and his 35-year-old knees in the long run.
There's nothing but upside if Bonner flourishes. This would only be Bonner's second year as a starter. That means he's still not entirely proven, but also he still has room to improve. If he takes off and becomes the most reliable options to start opposite Duncan, great. If he plays sub-par then the veteran option in McDyess is still available to step in. Bonner doesn't play a large enough role to decide any wins or losses for us by himself and McDyess, or at this point even DeJuan Blair, can still finish games if necessary. There's more upside in starting Bonner than there is in sitting him.
Bonner is an average defender and not apt at checking the bigger, more talented forwards in the conference. Charged with guarding guys like Gasol, Nowitzki, Stoudemire and Boozer, Bonner is going to struggle. He's not a poor defender, just not built to take on those guys and certainly not meant to take on a guy such as Kevin Garnett out in Boston.
Bonner lacks athleticism. Remember when I was talking about McDyess and his 35-year-old knees? OK, well McDyess still gets off the ground better than Bonner does. I'm not sure how many times McDyess has had his knees surgically reconstructed, but even held together by dental floss and chewing gum, his wheels still make him more agile and vertically enabled than Bonner.
Bonner had some consistency and confidence issues in the past. He also had some well-publicized issues with confidence in his shot, and had to take some public coaching from Pop about being more aggressive on pulling the trigger. He had a nice run towards the end of the last regular season, but then dropped off in the playoffs. He has all the tools to play his role on the team, but occasionally he has hit some rough patchy streaks. In order to continue starting he has to find some more consistency.
Some of these minutes could be going to DeJuan Blair. No, I'm not kidding. After three games I assure you there are some people who are ready to call for Blair in the starting lineup. I'm not ready to go that far that fast, but I think it's a legitimate angle to say that between all this griping over McDyess and Bonner that Blair has played better than both of them through three games. Blair shouldn't be starting yet, but it's not unreasonable to suggest he should be stealing some minutes from Bonner's PT unless Bonner really distinguishes himself.
Bottom line is make up your own mind. This could go a number of different ways. Pop has a proven record of making starting lineup decisions I disagree with that eventually work. Now I just stopped disagreeing with him.
But then again, that's just me.
Please leave us your comments on whether Bonner should continue to start for the Spurs.
Like we didn't see this coming.
We all heard about and saw video of Manu smacking a bat during the Spurs-Kings game this past Saturday night. Well PETA has responded.
Here's our take on it: To bludgeon a 4-ounce animal to death, it takes either a small man or a totally unthinking one—with no respect or consideration for lives humbler than his own. This is a time when athletes in particular need to be on their best behavior around any animal and show that they have brains and a heart, not just reactionary brawn.
Bats always try to avoid contact with humans, and there are plenty of easy ways to keep bats out of a basketball arena(or your home). We hope that the next time someone's life is on the line, Manu Ginobili will take just a few seconds to think before he acts.
For those of you who have not seen the video take a look for yourself.
This must be the most "drama" coming from the San Antonio Spurs ever in recent years! Please leave us your thoughts on this bat-slap heard around the world and if you agree with PETA's response.
The 8th Seed went LIVE for the first time in its short history. The show was broadcasted live on Sports Talk Cleveland with Glenn Moore of The Dug Out Sports Show hosting. On this episode, we previewed the NBA season.
Pay attention to what happens when Adam Best of Fansided talks about the Lakers this season. Oh the humanity!
Click HERE to listen to the newest episode.
Of course Michael De Leon and I were there to represent Spurs nation but this is the rest of the crew.
John Karalis from Reds Army
Adam Best from Fansided.com
Jared Wade from Both Teams Played Hard / Eight Points Nine Seconds
Zach Harper from Cowbell Kingdom and Talk Hoops
Rey Moralde of The No Look Pass
Glenn Moore of The Dug Out Sports Show
Jim Eichenhofer from the New Orleans Hornets website organized a roundtable with writers from around the Southwest division. Yours truly was included. Check it out below and add your thoughts on the topics discussed.
In terms of the team you cover, what is the biggest story to watch this season?
Mark Followill, Mavericks TV broadcaster: Will the Mavericks’ offseason moves pay dividends? The Mavs added Shawn Marion, Drew Gooden, Quinton Ross, Kris Humphries and Tim Thomas and subtracted little from the core of a team that won 50 games and advanced to the second round. Their most notable losses were Brandon Bass and Antoine Wright who were seventh and eighth in total minutes played. All of those players added help upgrade the talent level and versatility of the team in theory but how will it actually come together in reality? I am an optimist so my guess is very well but until you start for real you can never be sure.
Jason Friedman, Rockets.com: When the topic is Rockets’ basketball, all roads eventually lead back to Tracy McGrady. He’s not just an X-factor, he is THE X-factor. Right now, there is no definite timetable for his return, though I’d put money on him coming back sooner rather than later. And though it’s a fool’s errand to attempt to predict the caliber of play he’ll display upon returning to action, all reports of his progress have been positively glowing thus far. There’s little doubt that a healthy and motivated T-Mac could potentially transform the Rockets from scrappy overachievers to Western Conference force – think ’07-’08 Rockets once Yao went down, only better – but is that the McGrady the Rockets are going to get? Houston fans can’t wait to find out.
Matt Tumbleson, grizzlies.com: The biggest thing to watch this season for the Grizzlies will be to see how all of the offseason moves that the team made fit together with a group that started to come together during the final month of last season under Lionel Hollins. Adding Allen Iverson and Zach Randolph to a solid young core of Rudy Gay, O.J. Mayo, Mike Conley and Marc Gasol unquestionably ups the talent level for the Grizzlies this season. On paper, the added firepower on offense will make the Grizzlies tough to stop.
Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com: How much of an impact will the Hornets’ six new players make? New Orleans is headlined by a pair of two-time All-Stars in Chris Paul and David West, but those two players have had to shoulder too big of a load at times in recent seasons. The Hornets hope the additions of Emeka Okafor, Ike Diogu, Darius Songaila, Bobby Brown and rookies Darren Collison and Marcus Thornton will increase depth and provide more support for Paul and West. The bench was a major weakness in 2008-09, but Paul said recently that this is the deepest team the Hornets have had since he debuted in 2005.
David Thiessen, Projectspurs.com: The faces might have changed more this year than in the past but the biggest story, health, has not. Year in and year out the biggest story is whether Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili can play the majority of the season and enter the playoffs healthy. Even if Richard Jefferson, Antonio McDyess and DeJuan Blair are the successes the fans hope for, the Spurs’ fortunes rest upon Duncan’s knees and Ginobili’s ankles. Ginobili is supposedly 100 percent healthy and Duncan lost weight to decrease the wear and tear on his chronic knee problems, so Spurs fans are hopeful.
What is the biggest reason to be optimistic about your team’s chances this season?
Mark Followill, Mavericks TV broadcaster: Shawn Marion and Josh Howard. The Mavs finally have an athletic tandem at the wings that can complement Jason Kidd’s open floor game. Howard was a huge factor in beating San Antonio in the playoffs and offseason ankle surgery has the Mavs hoping he is as healthy as he’s been in some time. Marion is ready to prove his drop in stats in Miami and Toronto were more about their systems than his talent eroding. The Mavs need to get better athletically and defensively and Marion fits that bill.
Jason Friedman, Rockets.com: All one has to do is think back to the playoffs when the Rockets managed to break even over the final four games against the mighty Lakers despite the absence of Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady. Granted, there’s a big difference between playing without two superstars for four games as opposed to 82, but it speaks to the fact that the players on this club will never be outworked. Those who choose to discount the Rockets this season do so at their own peril.
Matt Tumbleson, grizzlies.com: Many critics question whether the offensive talents of Iverson, Randolph, Gay and Mayo will be able to coexist, but ultimately, having multiple scoring options is a good problem to have. Last year the Grizzlies relied too heavily on Gay and Mayo to carry the load on offense, but with the additions of Randolph and Iverson, teams will have to pick their poison against the Grizzlies.
Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com: The Hornets have the best point guard in the league in Chris Paul, who continues to make noticeable improvements to his game each season. They’ve surrounded him with several players who also still have not reached their prime. That combination makes it very possible that this team will improve upon its 49 wins in 2008-09 and remain competitive in the West for the foreseeable future.
David Thiessen, Projectspurs.com: The Spurs had arguably the strongest summer of any team, addressing all of their major weaknesses. Fourth scorer? Check. Improved frontcourt depth to help Duncan? Check. Backup point guard? Check. With Jefferson, McDyess, Blair and George Hill’s improvement, the Spurs are better than last year in almost all regards.
What is the biggest concern for your team entering the season?
Mark Followill, Mavericks TV broadcaster: Are the Mavs strong enough in the middle? Obviously Dallas was looking to improve at center when they signed Marcin Gortat to an offer sheet that was matched by Orlando. Afterwards, they turned to Drew Gooden. The, in my opinion, underrated Gooden gives Dallas a very skilled 5 on the offensive end. Of course at some point to win at the highest levels you have to protect the paint and can the Mavs get enough of that from a rotation of Gooden, Erick Dampier, Kris Humphries and any number of other unconventional options at center?
Jason Friedman, Rockets.com: For many Rockets observers I’m sure the answer would be offense, given the fact Houston will be missing the nightly 20 and 10 it’s accustomed to receiving from Yao Ming. However, the All-Star center’s presence might be missed even more at the defensive end. Yao has been one of the game’s best rim defenders over the years and the Rockets’ lack of size in his stead will surely prompt opponents to feel far more courageous when making forays to the hoop.
Matt Tumbleson, grizzlies.com: If the different dynamics of this team work, there will be a big payoff in the end. But if things don’t click early with this group, the memory of the consecutive losing seasons could creep into everyone’s minds. Iverson missing the preseason with a hamstring injury won’t help in this department.
Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com: The competition in the Western Conference. Of the seven West teams (Lakers, Nuggets, Spurs, Blazers, Mavericks, Hornets, Jazz) that virtually every analyst is projecting to make the playoffs, it’s possible that all seven will be as good as they were in 2008-09 – or better. As always, the race for a top seed and homecourt advantage will be fierce in the West.
David Thiessen, Projectspurs.com: Duncan can lose all the weight he wants but it will not make his knee problems go away. They are chronically painful and we do not know how it will affect him this season. We got a small taste at the end of last season and he definitely was not the same dominant player. Ginobili has also injured his ankles more than once. Is this a recurring problem that will rear its head again?
Not including your team, which Southwest Division club are you most looking forward to watching play this season?
Mark Followill, Mavericks TV broadcaster: San Antonio. It will be fascinating to see how loading up for one last run works. No doubt Richard Jefferson and Antonio McDyess help them, but for the Spurs it all boils down to the knees of Tim Duncan and the return of a healthy Manu Ginobili.
Jason Friedman, Rockets.com: Have to go with San Antonio here. Give the Spurs credit: they recognized they’re approaching the end of an era and therefore did everything in their power to load up for another run to try to coax another title or two out of the Duncan-Parker-Ginobili triumvirate which has served them so well through the better part of this decade. However their story unfolds, it’s going to be must-see TV this season.
Matt Tumbleson, grizzlies.com: I’m most looking forward to seeing what the Spurs do this season with the additions of Richard Jefferson and Antonio McDyess. Coach Popovich and R.C. Buford took advantage of the market at a perfect time and added talent when there were no guarantees of using their available cap space during the free agent bonanza that is coming up next summer. I expect the Spurs to push the Lakers for the Western Conference title.
Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com: Based on the tremendous pickups of Richard Jefferson and Antonio McDyess, I’ll go with the Spurs. By adding Jefferson and McDyess to Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, San Antonio has added to what already was an extremely formidable core.
David Thiessen, Projectspurs.com: With the addition of Shawn Marion, the Mavericks appear ready to run up and down the court and create mismatches for almost every team. They have not been talked about as much as some other teams this offseason but they should be an exciting team and potential contender.
Among the other 10 teams in the Western Conference, which club are you most looking forward to watching play this season?
Mark Followill, Mavericks TV broadcaster: Denver. The Nuggets are about to learn what New Orleans did last year and that is when you win well over 50 games and advance deep into the playoffs, you all of the sudden have a target on your back. They won’t sneak up on anyone and will have to learn how to cope with playing opponents who are looking to measure themselves against you night in, night out. It’s not easy...
Jason Friedman, Rockets.com: Such a tough choice. Oklahoma City is on the precipice of being a playoff team, though probably a year away. The Clippers could rise to relevance or plumb the deepest depths of oblivion once more. But ultimately, the answer to this question has to be the Lakers. They are, after all, the defending champs and, befitting a Hollywood team, they are a walking, talking reality show with the likes of Artest and Khloe Kardashian now in tow.
Matt Tumbleson, grizzlies.com: The Oklahoma City Thunder are a lot of people’s favorite to make a big jump this season for very good reason. Kevin Durant looks like a surefire All-Star and could end up being one of the top 10 players in the league this season. The Thunder are just as high on Russell Westbrook, who has the talent to complement Durant as the team’s one-two punch. The question will be whether they have enough depth up front. Either way, they’ll be exciting to watch.
Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com: Oklahoma City. Kevin Durant is on the verge of megastardom and they have several other promising building blocks in Russell Westbrook, Jeff Green and first-round pick James Harden. The Thunder improved so much late in 2008-09 that I wonder if they might be surprisingly competitive.
David Thiessen, Projectspurs.com: Unfortunately the team I’m most looking forward to watching, the Oklahoma City Thunder, will be difficult to find on TV. They’ve assembled an exciting, energetic, youthful team with a budding superstar in Kevin Durant.
Also not including your team, which Southwest Division rookie are you most looking forward to watching play this season?
Mark Followill, Mavericks TV broadcaster: Not many marquee choices but I’ll say DeJuan Blair in San Antonio. Can his knees hold up? Will Gregg Popovich give a rookie a ton of minutes? Can he overcome his perceived deficiencies through his relentless style of play? If he does, a lot of GMs will be kicking themselves.
Jason Friedman, Rockets.com: There’s no one who has me more intrigued than DeJuan Blair. I’m still having a difficult time figuring out how he fell so far in this summer’s draft and his preseason performances have done absolutely nothing to diminish my bewilderment.
Matt Tumbleson, grizzlies.com: DeJuan Blair has had a huge preseason, and it will be interesting to see where he fits in with a very seasoned Spurs frontline. Coach Popovich is notorious for resting his core group during the regular season, so Blair should have ample opportunity to showcase his skills.
Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com: DeJuan Blair’s precipitous drop to the second round was one of the biggest stories of the 2009 draft. Many NBA teams passed on selecting him, including essentially every other club in this division. Will Blair prove to everyone that it was a mistake?
David Thiessen, Projectspurs.com: DeMarre Carroll is not the most talented player on the Grizzlies but you will not find a player who works harder. The Junkyard Dog plays every minute to the max and Memphis fans should fall in love with him. I’m interested to see if that intensity can rub off on some of his teammates.
In your opinion, who is most likely to be the division’s 2009-10 “breakthrough” player from another team?
Mark Followill, Mavericks TV broadcaster: My only reluctance in selecting O.J. Mayo of Memphis is how Allen Iverson’s presence might limit his minutes. Purely based on skill though, he is a stud and if the Grizzlies are smart they give him every opportunity to blossom.
Jason Friedman, Rockets.com: I’m choosing Julian Wright, a player with all the tools and ample opportunity to use them. Now entering his third year, I’m betting on Wright to start realizing his potential and begin playing a pivotal role on a Hornets squad anxious for him to step up.
Matt Tumbleson, grizzlies.com: DeJuan Blair has caught the attention of a lot of people this preseason, but many forget that his Pitt teammate, Sam Young is in a similar position. Young fell into the Grizzlies’ lap in the second round and the Grizzlies couldn’t be happier, as the swingman has chipped in a pair of 20-plus scoring performances off the bench this preseason.
Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com: Houston’s Aaron Brooks showed during the 2009 playoffs that he has the talent to become an excellent starting point guard. With the Rockets’ roster depleted by injuries and departures, Brooks will have a golden opportunity to take another big step in his development.
David Thiessen, Projectspurs.com: Julian Wright took a step back in his second season, but the Hornets appear ready to start the athletic forward. His game is still raw but the increase in playing time should allow his game to develop, and playing more minutes with Chris Paul should help as well.
Thanks to Jim Eichenhofer for inviting David to the roundtable. Please leave us your comments on the Spurs competition in the Southwest Division.no comments
After a loss in Chicago against the Bulls, the Spurs looked to bounce back from the loss and get back on the winning track. Tonight they played the Kings in the AT&T Center. Did they they pick up the win?
Here is how it went down in San Antonio.
The Spurs started with Duncan, Jefferson, Bonner, Finley and Parker.
Not only was it the return of former Spur Beno Udrih to San Antonio, but a bat was in the house and the game was delayed.
Parker led the way with 10 points as he was scoring in the paint. And Manu had six points and a huge assist by swatting a bat off the court. No joke.
At the end of the first Spurs were up 34-27 as Manu hit a last second lay up over his fellow countryman Andres Nocioni.
Spurs started this quarter with Hill, Ratliff, Blair, Mason and Finley. Hill looked very comfortable on the court for SA as he was hitting shots and getting to the rim. Blair was playing the passing lanes and twice tried to go for steals. Got to love his hustle as he was diving for loose balls for the Spurs.
At the 8:40 point in the quarter it was Spurs 38, Kings 35.
Finely was hitting his shot, Parker was getting into the paint with ease and finishing at the rim and Blair stole a pass for an easy layup.
At the 5:59 point in the quarter is was Spurs 44, Kings 39.
Jefferson was still attacking the rim but just isn't finishing at the rim. Again the Kings were just not stopping Parker from getting into the rim. He was either scoring or setting up guys like Duncan for easy slams.
The Spurs were displaying great ball movement, either with Parker breaking down the defenders to get in the lane with ease to the rim or dishing out to Bonner and Jefferson for three's!
Kings on the other hand were not helping themselves. They committed 11 turnovers and Nocioni shot 1-7 from the field. Oh and Duncan blocked Kevin Martin's last second shot before the half.
At the end of the second quarter it was Spurs 61, Kings 45.
Parker led the way in the first half with 16 points while the Spurs scored 32 points in the paint thanks in part to the Kings porous defense letting Parker in the paint.
Spurs started with Parker, Bonner, Finely, Jefferson, and Duncan. While the Kings started with Kevin Martin, Jason Thompson, Sean May, Desmond Mason and Tyreke Evans.
RJ attacked the rim right away and it paid off as he got the "and 1." Spurs were making the extra pass for wide open shots. It was a thing of beauty to watch.
Parker continued to lead the way for the Spurs by hitting outside shots.
At 7:11 point in the quarter it was Spurs 71, Kings 57.
Jefferson continues to look more comfortable for the Spurs. He had a highlight "and 1" on Spencer Hawes from a pass from Manu. Speaking of Manu, he sure looks like he hasn't lost a step. He was hitting shots and attacking the rim.
At the 2:41 point of the quarter it was Spurs 88, Kings 67.
Ratliff got some extended minutes and showed he still is a defensive presence. He was altering shots, grabbing boards and though got called for goal-tending, he sure can still swat shots. Blair continued to show his rebounding prowess.
At the end of the third quarter it was Spurs 95, Kings 75.
The Spurs shot 60% from the floor at one point in the third.
Spurs started with Blair, Mason, Ratliff, Hill, and Jefferson.
RJ is looking much better in a Spurs uniform tonight. His three point shot was going and right out of the gate he goes to the rim for a basket. Hill on the other hand was showing confidence in his shooting touch.
Ratliff had a huge block on Brockman rejecting his shot with force.
At the 8:54 point in the quarter it was Spurs 102, Kings 75.
Not good to see if you are a Kings fan. Rookie Tyreke Evans turns his ankle. He did manage to walk off but was limping. He did not come back to hit his free throws. Hopefully he is OK.
At the 5:37 point of the quarter it was Spurs 106, Kings 83.
You knew it was a win when the Spurs human victory cigar, Keith Bogans, checked in for extended minutes. It was all Spurs. Kings got smacked! And when I mean smacked, I mean the game closes with Ratliff blocking a shot with authority!
Final score was Spurs 113, Kings 94. Parker led the Spurs with 24 points, 3 rebounds, 7 assists, and 2 steals and Kevin Martin led the way for the Kings with 26 points. Spurs go to 2-1 for the season and remain undefeated in San Antonio.
- Great to see Parker shake off his horrible play in the second half of the Bulls game as he led the team by getting in the paint and hitting his outside shot.
- RJ finally looks like he is becoming comfortable as a Spur. He had his best outing with 21 points.
- Tim Duncan had 7 points and 10 rebounds in 22 minutes of play. Like to see this to give the big man rest.
- McDyess did not suit up due to flu-like symptoms.
- Ratliff may be old but the man can still block shots and be a presence in the paint.
- Blair continues to impress with his rebounding prowess.
- George Hill had a nice game. He looks more confident with his shot, showed he can get to the rim and look for the open man. He finished with 15 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 blocks and 1 steal.
What did you think of this blowout win by the Spurs? Leave us your comments.
- PTR - Wayne Vore explains why he is excited for this season. Even after the Chicago loss his points are still valid.
- 48MoH - People were worried that the Spurs would be without a defensive stopper on the perimeter. George Hill could be that player with his long arms and tenacious defense. Timothy Varner makes the point that Hill should see more minutes.
- Express-News - Buck Harvey discusses the Spurs deepest team ever. Even after a poor showing by the bench in Chicago I am excited by the second unit.
- Express-News - The Spurs picked up Hill's option for next year, so maybe they are planning on having him long term. Good move in my opinion.
- 48MoH - On the other hand, the Spurs decided to not pick up Mahinmi's option. This makes sense because he has failed to crack the rotation so far and it's likely that Tiago Splitter will join the team next year and take Mahinmi's spot.
- mlive - Detroit Pistons beat writer A. Sherrod Blakely predicts how each conference will play out. He has the Spurs winning it all and Tim Duncan bringing home the MVP trophy. I don't think Duncan will have the minutes or numbers to outperform LeBron, Kobe or Wade.
- Express-News - An advance scout gives his opinion of each Spurs player.
- Express-News - Jeff McDonald takes a look at five burning questions for the Spurs. For me it all comes down to health.
- Sportige - Of the ten oldest players in the league, two are currently Spurs. Two more are former Spurs. Shocking.
By Michael De Leon and Erik Ong
With the Spurs bringing in so many new players this offseason, I collaborated with fellow Bloguin blogger Erik Ong of Points in the Paint and the Four Fingers Fantasy Guide to see how those changes would affect the real world and fantasy value of our big three and two of our newest additions.
Tim Duncan is another year older and coming off a knee injury. Last season Duncan was a second round draft pick at the latest. While nursing an injury, Duncan averaged the same amount amount of points and only saw a slight dip in rebounds and blocks. Now 15 pounds lighter and with a clean bill of health, is Duncan still considered a draft top selection or will his age and knee brace see him drop to the third round?
The "Big Fundamental" has been called many uninspiring things in fantasy basketball circles, from "old" and "over the hill" to "boring". Those comments are from the disenchanted members of the "gum on my seat bleachers". The point is Tim still has enough in his fantasy tank to come up with reliable season this year. It may not be the 20-10-2 vintage Duncan we would love to see, but we should receive enough consistent, quality performances from him every night. Consistent enough for him to be a reliable source of points, rebounds, blocks, and FG%. Yes his FT% leaves a lot to be desired and Coach Pop tends to limit his minutes and even games close to the Playoffs, but those drawbacks are worth his reliability for a majority of the regular season. He is still arguably one of the best partners for Dwight Howard in the second round when drafting for a Big-ball team in head-to-head. Rounds to draft: 2nd to 3rd.
While he may be considered a top three point guard in the league, Tony Parker hasn't gotten a lot of respect nor love from the fantasy experts in the past. It's probably because he lacks an outside dimension to his game and also because he's not as an aggressive a steals producer as many would prefer. Last season's performance should merit Tony a decent upgrade in a lot of rankings as far as I am concerned. He improved on his assists and his FT%. I think he should continue that trend this season. The scoring should still be there. I wouldn't be surprised if he led the team in that department. His big boon in fantasy is truly appreciated through his 50% shooting from the field. An ability, or skill that few point guards in the NBA possess. What may end up hurting him is that point guards who have higher assist numbers, especially Rajon Rondo and Derrick Rose could be taken ahead of Parker. Rounds to draft: 4th to 5th
Manu is coming off an injury-plagued season and there is a lot of concern about how much more his body can take. Real value and fantasy value may differ greatly, but health is an issue in both situations. But, love him or hate him, Manu's fantasy value is undeniable. He provides the unique (relatively) ability to chip in 1.5 treys and 1.5 steals plus 4-5 dimes from the SG position. Again, his style of play, driving fearlessly (almost suicidal) into the lane; makes his fantasy owners cringe and cover their eyes as they pray that he doesn't twist or tweak anything when he lands. But to me, his passion is actually part of his charm. I just wish he'd try to stay healthy longer and more often. The good news, for now, is that he's starting the season healthy. Assuming he can play 78 games or more he should be a fantastic middle round pick for rotisserie drafters out there. I'm sure 78 games would certainly be something Spurs fans would be ecstatic with as well. Rounds to draft: 4th to 5th
Richard Jefferson was brought in not to be first or second fiddle, the roles he's been used to playing his entire career, he'll likely be playing fourth fiddle. Be that as it may, his role is vital for the team to be successful this year and to make a deep playoff run hopefully netting the Spurs a fifth championship and Jefferson his first. He'll have to add some scoring when other players are going cold and the Spurs will need his athleticism to content with some of the younger, quicker teams.
Jefferson is a brilliant acquisition for the Spurs, and as Mike has pointed out RJ should be play a key role for the team to make that "one last run". In terms of fantasy, he has never been too much of a popular pick. This is primarily due to his "scoring-only" reputation. That's a bit harsh. He did average 1.4 treys per game last season. Sadly, that's about it. He is truly an example of how real-life greatness does not translate into fantasy value. He is what he is, a scorer. Considering how low he's actually currently being drafted in most mock drafts, I think RJ should provide you good value when you're trying to swing around for a boost in the points category in the later rounds. Rounds to draft: 8th to 9th
I've been told often this offseason that the signing of Antonio McDyess is a very underrated acquisition. Part of that could stem from the fact that McDyess is one of the oldest Spurs and fans don't quite know what his role will be since the frontcourt seems pretty stacked. What you can count on is that McDyess should provide some veteran leadership, will help on the boards. His extended range should work well with Tim Duncan, who likes to operate in an uncrowded paint.
We know what he's here for. To add a physical presence in the paint beyond that of Tim Duncan's. I sincerely doubt that he will get to duplicate his performance last season when he was still with Detroit, but he should still be able to contribute his fair share of boards and blocks with the bonus of low turnovers for your fantasy team. He's at best, a third-string center as far as fantasy goes. I consider him to be a decent last round pick when I am seeking a solid back-up center for my team. I am not sure how he will jell with Duncan in the Spurs' frontcourt, but as a last pick Dice should end being a rather low-risk option. Round to draft: 13th.
Hopefully my real world analysis combined with Erik's fantasy analysis will be telling in what to expect when you are watching the Spurs from your couch or when you are monitoring them in your fantasy leagues. Thanks to Erik for collaborating with me on this and for the latest in fantasy news and updates, be sure to check out Points in the Paint.
It was the first road game for the Spurs in the 2009-2010 NBA season but it was also their first back-to-back game after beating the Hornets yesterday in San Antonio.
The Spurs traveled to Chicago to face the Bulls and here is how it went down.
The Spurs started with Duncan, Bonner, Finley, Parker and Jefferson while the Bulls countered with Rose, Noah, Salmons, Deng and Thomas. Again I am still wondering why Pop is going to Bonner with the starting unit. More than likely it's be because he can spread the floor with his outside shooting.
Just as in the Hornets game, the Spurs started off slow and the Bulls came out with an 8-2 run. Richard Jefferson was attacking the rim but missed his first three shots. The Spurs did come back with a 6-0 run to keep the game close.
The feel of the game was fast-paced which does not work in the Spurs favor and the team's energy level was low and defense was sub-par.
At the end of the first quarter it was 23-22 Spurs.
Spurs rookie, DeJuan Blair, picked up quick fouls and was pulled out of the game. Again we saw RJ attacking the rim but just was not hitting his outside shot and early in the second quarter it was 24-29 Bulls.
Though leading the Bulls didn't hit from the field for three minutes but at the same time the Spurs were not helping themselves. Spurs were not grabbing defensive rebounds, energy was low and this was allowing the Bulls to stay in the game.
Rose was getting into the rim, Noah was bringing energy and hustle for the Bulls and rookie Taj Gibson was grabbing offensive boards for the Bulls. So what were the Spurs doing? They committed seven turnovers including three straight.
The Bulls were out boarding the Spurs on the offensive glass, bringing the energy, and ended up scoring 19 points on second chance points.
However the Spurs did go on an 8-0 run in the waning moments of the second quarter but Kurt Hinrich hit a three at he end of the first half, allowing the Bulls to take the lead at the half, 47-46 Bulls.
The Spurs did not take advantage of TD in the paint, shot 50% and allowed the Bulls to out board them, 10-1, on the offensive glass. You know Pop blasted the Spurs at the half.
The Spurs started going to Duncan early and it paid off. Noah was playing soft defense and TD went to the glass often. Still the Spurs were not showing energy, hustle and at the 6:45 point of the third, the Bulls were up 58-52.
The Bulls then went on a 14-4 run and again the Spurs looked flat. The Bulls did a great job at taking away the 3-point shot from the Spurs, forcing them to hit their mid-range shots which they were not hitting.
Again, second chance points favored the Bulls, 21-6, and at the end of three it was 74-64 Bulls.
TD was doing his best to keep the Spurs in the game with 22 points, 3 blocks and 2 steals heading into the fourth but the Spurs committed 10 turnovers.
Spurs started with Hill, Blair, RJ, McDyess, and Mason.
Spurs started 1-6 from the field and that speaks volumes. They looked slow, were not making the extra pass, and no one was getting it going for the Spurs except for Duncan.
To make it worse, they died by the three tonight. Spurs missed 14 straight three's before Finley hit one midway through the fourth.
Could it get worse? Yes it can. Bulls missed six shots but the Spurs didn't capitalize. Also Parker went scoreless in the second half.
End of game. Spurs lose to Bulls 92-85. Spurs fall to 1-1.
Shiny Spur Award -- Tim Duncan.
He kept the Spurs in it and finished with 28 points and 16 rebounds.
Rusty Spur Award -- Tony Parker.
All I have to say is he went scoreless in the second half.
- This was a back-to-back game for the Spurs and could this have been a reason for their lack luster performance?
- They started off slow to begin the game as they did against the Hornets. This is something that cannot become a pattern.
- Do we chalk this up to a lack of gelling?
- You would think a team with Blair, Duncan, and McDyess would not get out boarded but they did, 52-44
- Spurs went 4-21 from 3-point land
What are your thought on the Spurs loss against the Bulls? Please leave us your comments.