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Old 10-18-12, 03:00 PM
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alh1020 alh1020 is offline
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Battle for final roster spot is going down to the wire

With only three more preseason games remaining, we’re getting closer to finding out who the Spurs will keep – if anyone – to fill their 15th and final roster spot.

In a preseason almost completely bereft of intrigue, the battle between Eddy Curry, Josh Powell, Derrick Brown and Wesley Witherspoon has been one of the few compelling storylines. (And that about sums up the makeup of the Spurs — the race for the right to set at the end of their bench qualifies as interesting.)

As you’d expect from fringe players, all have a laundry list of flaws. But each has played well during dress rehearsal season, making a case they can help the Spurs in some way – however limited it might be.

Eddy Curry

8.3 points, 4.3 rebounds, 66.7 FG%, 17.3 minutes
Easily the most intriguing candidate of the four thanks to his riches-to-rags descent from No. 2 draft pick to discarded free agent.

While fitness is no longer an issue, four preseason games isn’t nearly enough sample size to tell if he’s shored up the various other weaknesses in his game – basically, just about everything that doesn’t involve putting the ball in the basket.

But Curry has shown at least once a game that he’s still got that skill down, be it his two early putback dunks against Atlanta, or his drive-and-dunk from the top of the key against Denver.

If Curry brought even a sliver of defensive aptitude, he’d be a mortal lock. But even as is, you can never have too many low-post scoring options.

Josh Powell

7.0 points, 3.7 rebounds, 90.0 FG%, 13.7 minutes
At this stage of his career, what you see from the 29-year-old Powell is pretty much what you’re going to get – great attitude, great effort, a respectable mid-range jump shot, and not a whole lot else.

Powell played only seven minutes against Denver, and not at all against Houston. It’s hard to tell what that means with Gregg Popovich declining to discuss battle in any real detail.

He might have already fallen out of the running. Or perhaps Popovich already knows what Powell has to offer and wants to use those minutes on the rest of the candidates.

Derrick Brown

6.0 points, 3.7 rebounds, 57.9 FG%, 15.8 minutes
Being cut by Charlotte not once but twice could serve as a fairly massive red flag. But Brown has had a solid camp, showing good athleticism and versatility, the latter a quality none of his competitors can match.

Popovich semi-downplayed that skill recently, saying Brown is better suited for power forward rather than small. But Stephen Jackson, a teammate in Charlotte, said he used to give former All-Star Gerald Wallace trouble in practice.

Having another body to throw at Kevin Durant could come in handy – or make Jackson expendable should the Spurs decide to flip his $10 million contract.

Wesley Witherspoon


8.3 points, 2.0 rebounds, 64.3 FG%, 15.7 minutes
With the Spurs ably stocked at small forward with Kawhi Leonard and Jackson, there’s virtually zero chance Witherspoon makes the team.

Indeed, the media contingent had been wondering if his DNP against Denver was the precursor to a pink slip. Then he pumped in a team-high 17 points in 28 minutes at Houston.

It probably wasn’t anything more than Popovich providing a young player he likes with an opportunity to showcase himself. But Witherspoon at least gave the Spurs something to think about, and that’s about all you can do as an undrafted free agent.

To me, the decision comes down to Curry and Powell. Curry brings the intrigue of untapped potential, even at his age, while Powell is a solid, professional veteran who will fit right in with the Spurs. That said, you can’t discount Brown either thanks to his youth and utility.

From a writer’s standpoint, Curry promises the most steady source of material. (Although I doubt my colleague Jeff McDonald would appreciate the constant calls for more playing time that would surely rain down from the peanut gallery.)

But Powell is the most solid bet, in my eyes — also the most dependable and least interesting, which kinda makes him the perfect candidate to be a San Antonio Spur.

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Twitter: @danmccarneySAEN


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