by Dan McCarney
The NBA season tips off in less than a week, which means you will be inundated with all manner of preview material in the coming days. Unless you’re a true hoops junkie, in which case you’ve been knee deep for weeks.
(Is it impressive or pathetic that I know Denver’s Ty Lawson led the league in drives into the paint from outside 20 feet last season? I’m leaning strongly toward the latter…)
At any rate, rather than rely solely on the semi-dependable eye and snarky wit of the national media corps, Sports Illustrated is offering an overview of every team in the league from the men who scout them for a living.
Here’s a sampling of the Spurs entry
* I think Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili are the best trio in the NBA. Parker and Ginobili are probably the two best playmakers on the same team. With Parker and Ginobili breaking down defenses, capable shooters spaced out for catch-and-shoot opportunities and Duncan remaining a very adequate post player, they are really hard to defend. * Two years ago, I thought there was no way that Duncan [who is 36 years old] would be playing right now. But he does a great job of keeping himself in shape and coach Gregg Popovich handles him so well. Popovich was smart: He took Duncan out of the post more in the regular season last year and put him in more pick-and-rolls, which saved his legs. Then, at the end of the game, Duncan would go into the post, and he’d have the energy for it. * I don’t think they have the legs to compete in the playoffs against the top teams. In one game, they can beat anyone. In a best-of-seven, the top teams in the West are going to beat them.
With Duncan, even if they limit him in the regular season to keep him as fresh as possible, you can’t have him on the floor for 38 minutes a game in a seven-game series. The same goes for Ginobili. They just can’t recover like they used to, and some of their opponents, like the Thunder, will have young stars who can play big minutes over and over during the course of a seven-game series.
Lots of other great tidbits to be devoured, including how Popovich is the ideal handler for Stephen Jackson and Kawhi Leonard’s fit with the team. [email protected] Spurs Nation