With more than two months still remaining until the start of the 2013-14 NBA season, weíll have plenty of time down the road to start analyzing and assessing the Spurs and their competition in earnest.
Until then, hereís a little sneak peak, with the continuation of an annual Association tradition: The potential underestimation of the Spurs.
Despite having coming within seconds of winning last yearís championship ó donít think Iím not already tired of typing that passage ó a panel consisting of 215 people who participate in ESPNís NBA coverage picked the Spurs to finish third in the Western Conference
, behind Oklahoma City and the Los Angeles Clippers.
As it has been for the past few years, itís difficult to peg the Spurs. The bottom HAS to start dropping out at some point, what with Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and, in the very near future, Tony Parker succumbing to age. But after winning 58 games despite having their preferred starters ó Duncan, Parker, Danny Green, Tiago Splitter and Kawhi Leonard ó together for just 31 games, it can be argued that they might be better this season.
That isnít the opinion of ESPNís panel, nor was it the conclusion reached at NBAcouchside.com, where the Spurs are pegged as a 55-win team
Ė behind Oklahoma City, the Clippers and Houston ó based on a variety of statistical projections.
Like the Spurs, all those teams face questions/issues. The Thunder lost their third-leading scorer, Kevin Martin. The Clippers and Rockets appeared to improve, but will still need to acclimate their new pieces into the whole ó a task that, as we learned with the Lakers last season, isnít always a foregone conclusion.
In Houstonís case, is the addition of Dwight Howard, even at his peak, enough to foster the 17-win improvement projected by Couchsideís formula? If so, pencil him in for his first MVP award.
But, as the Spurs showed last year, reaching the Finals despite the long odds against them, what happens in real life is often different than how itís mapped out on paper.
Link to story: Spurs Nation Ľ ESPN Summer Forecast has Spurs third in West