GET BACK IN THE GRAVE!
I hate the Spurs. Hate. Hate. Hate. I wish they were done forever, I wish Tim Duncan would either start acting out, Pop's genius would just drive him to insanity already, or Tony Parker and Manu would just head back to their respective countries.
But they don't die. They seem to go stronger every year. Guess who had both the most lopsided trade and caught the biggest steal on draft day. Don't guess, actually. You already know that it was the damn Spurs. The Spurs are like the Yankees but the exact opposite--they thrive on ingenuity, not capital. And I hate them for it.
I even hate talking about the Spurs, because I want to say bad things, but they always come out good:
- The Spurs picked up DeJuan Blair very late in the draft because of his knee problems. That means they may only get four or five years of extremely solid production out of a second round draft pick.
- The Spurs traded for Richard Jefferson. He's overpaid; though definitely still a solid player. Also he's not good enough to be a first option--the Spurs already have three better options.
- The Spurs are still going to be boring as grass this year, but less boring with the electrifying Manu Ginobilli at full health.
- The Spurs bench...actually, it's really difficult to even start to hate on the Spurs bench.
- Tim Duncan is old. FINALLY SOMETHING.
Not surprisingly the only criticism of the Spurs that sticks is also going to be their main concern this season. The Spurs are undoubtedly title contenders with a healthy Duncan. But a healthy Duncan could be difficult to provide with this roster. McDyess will likely share the floor with Duncan often, which means everybody's favorite power forward of all time will again be playing center this season. And while Duncan has backup at his traditional position, Matt Bonner and Theo Ratliff aren't exactly names that inspire confidence.
Aside from that what is there to say? This Spurs team is largely a known commodity. No other team will bring as much chemistry and experience to the table, though, on the inverse, no other team is as easy to game plan against. Not that predictability has hurt this team in the past, but we know now better than ever just what to expect from these guys, and that's success.
Breakout: Nobody- There, I said it. Nobody. This team doesn't have a single fantasy player I'm chewing at the bit to get in the draft. Tony Parker is well undervalued in his ESPN ranking, but he'll go higher in your drafts and will still perform worse than last season, which I have a hard time counting as a breakout.
Bust: Tim Duncan- Duncan will play short minutes this season, probably won't suit up 70 times, and I think it's not long till the guy who was formerly a well of blocks dries up. Someone will take him in the second round; don't make the same mistake.
Useful: Tony Parker, Manu Ginobilli, Richard Jefferson: All three of these guys are far from elite at their position, but all three will provide some scoring punch in the late rounds. Parker has value at his ESPN rank of 56, but I think that's actually a bit high to take him. He can't be much better than last season, and he was only 44th on the player rater then. Manu is too great of an injury risk for me, and Richard Jefferson is fine as a later round safety pick if you gambled early in the draft. Also consider "handcuffing" RJ and Manu, because I suspect the two will often alternate big nights, and if Manu is hurt Jefferson will be the first to see his stats climb.
My Prediction: 51-31 (ESPN: 54-28)- As much as I hate the Spurs, and that might be why I'm a little under ESPN, it's impossible to give them any less than 50 wins this season. Could it happen? Of course, but not without a lot of things going horribly wrong. This is an excellent team that, like Boston, I'm ranking a little low in the regular season due to age and injury risk, but is going to be as dangerous as the Cavs and Lakers in the playoffs.
Brock's Take: 52-30-
The 'Big 3' has quietly turned into the 'Big 4' in San Antonio, because, last time I checked, Richard Jefferson was still a very good player--just stuck in Milwaukee. This team has a lot of miles on them, namely Tim Duncan, and the injuries of the 'Big 3' are a concern, but the arrival of Jefferson will spread the workload out a little bit. Not to mention that Antonio "Old Man Winter" McDyess will fill a big need at power forward.
Those who say the Spurs gave up too much depth in order to complete the Big 4 are wrong. Look at what we're working with here: Roger Mason Jr. was huge last season, Matt Bonner (who I know my boy djturtleface has love for [ed. note: it's love in the same way one loves a horrendous kung-fu film]) and Theo Ratliff provide decent depth of bigs, and I fully expect youngsters George Hill and Dejuan Blair to make a huge impact.
Yes this team is old, but they're tricky old. The Spurs will bore you to death, and by the time you realize what happened, you're down 15.
Pounding the Rock is a great Spurs blog. Not that I ever visit, but you might.