If you check the time stamps on our blog posts, you’ll see that we didn’t post for over four months. The following is all the information I would have put into the blog posts in those four months.
So Wayne, How Do You Feel About This Season?
Really good. Really, really good. What we saw last year was a magical run. The expectations for the team weren’t all that high — too many old guys, not enough size, no back up point guard, no shut down defender, no athleticism in the front court — and yet they put up one of the most dominant regular seasons seen and rolled to their eventual destruction on a 20 game winning streak. Lots of things went right for the team last year, but the key to me, and the funnest thing, was that the team really gelled as a team. It was truly some of the most beautiful basketball I have ever seen. I’m getting goose bumps just thinking about it. No shit.
What Went Right?
Three things stand out to me as having gone really well.
First, the team was healthy. Manu missed have the short season, but otherwise, everybody stayed healthy. The health allowed them to develop continuity and Manu’s absence forced other guys to develop. Plus, everybody was healthy when the playoffs hit.
Second, the play of Tony Parker, Kawhi Leonard, and Danny Green.
Third, the mid-season additions of Diaw and Jackson and their ability to not only fit into to a machine that was run smoothly, but to make it better. This is not an easy thing to accomplish.
Who Were The Surprises?
Tony Parker. Kawhi Leonard. Danny Green. In that order.
Tony really took his game to another level last year and I really didn’t think he had it in him. He was just incredibly dominant for long stretches of basketball. While always focus on offensive production, his defense is always very underrated. When he is out there busting his hump on defense, he’s very effective at disrupting the other team. He did a lot of that last year. In short, he was the team’s leader in a way that Manu usually is. That’s good thing.
Kawhi was far better than we could have possibly hoped for him to be. So much has been written about his season that there really isn’t anything I can add. I’d add one tidbit. While his season numbers were solid — 49.3% FG, 37.6% 3-pt, and 77% FT — remember that he started out REALLY slowly. Go look at his 2012 season splits, and you will see that his post-January numbers — after the first third of the season — were much, much better.
Danny really came into his own and provided the team with a lot of two things it needed. Defensive minutes and some streaky 3-pt shooting. When he got hot, he was smoking. Added to that, he always worked on defense. He wasn’t always good, but he really made a big step last year and provided something the team desperately needed and didn’t expect from him.
Mid Season Acquisitions
The additions of Boris Diaw and Stephen Jackson really took the team to another level. Each player provided something that was really needed. Boris brought great ball movement AND shooting range to the non-Duncan big position. He was all the good qualities of Bonner, Splitter, and Blair all mixed together.
Jack brought the edge the Spurs needed. It’s easy to just say that Jack is crazy, and he pretty much is in that good way that quality people can have a screw loose and have great hearts, but that it was his edge contrasted with Jefferson’s lack of edge. The first game Jack played against the Mavericks was all I needed to see to know the difference. Jack jumps into the situation to make plays. He doesn’t float around waiting for the game to come to him. Probably much like he does in his personal life, he’s there to make a difference.
Yeah, the end of the season was tough to take. To go from such a dominant run into a brutal skid hurt. I really don’t have much else to say.
Summer League Thoughts
Kawhi was a good story in summer with his dominating play, but the revelation to me was Cory Joseph. He made HUGE strides last season. I saw him late in the year with the Toros and he didn’t look very good. He was working hard, but he wasn’t even coming close to owning the games. He was an adequate d-league player. In summer league, against better competition, he showed the ability to make plays and control the game. It was good to see.
Training Camp And Preseason Thoughts
Training camp and preseason ended up being a lot of hubbub about absolutely nothing. Not only did we cut Eddy Curry, but he was subsequently picked up by the Mavs and then cut by them so they could sign TROY MURPHY. If you are questioning the Spurs wisdom in not keeping Curry, then what does that say about the Mavs.
Welcome Nando De Colo. Now please have a seat on the bench. Oh, and keep working on your shot because you’ll need it.
Quick Aside About The Toros
Anybody who knows anything about how the d-league works knows that Wesley Witherspoon wasn’t making the team. He was there to learn as much as he could before starting the season with the Toros. He, Tyler Wilkerson, and JaMychal Green were all added to the Toros this week as part of the rule that allows the Toros to claim up to three Spurs training camp players.
I expect Cory Joseph to be back with the Toros when their season starts around December 1st. Pop will give some minutes here and there during blow outs until then, but I’m thinking Pop will be more interested in seeing what Mills and De Colo can give him early on. I think the Spurs will want Cory to play a few months with the Toros to see if he can dominate at that level. Cory needs playing time and that’s where he’ll get it.
My Expectations For This Season
Tomorrow. I’ll give them tomorrow. I hope. But, let me say this. Pop is showing every intent of wanting to get off to a good start. He played Duncan 34+ minutes in a back-to-back to start the season. That’s all you need to know about Pop’s view. I have another suspicion about the minutes as well. Pop is an old dog, but I don’t think he is above learning. I suspect that last year he learned that a critical part of the chemistry the team developed was that they played frequently. The team developed a great rhythm and I think that rhythm was because they were playing what seemed like every damn day. Rust never had a chance to set in. I think Pop will try to recapture that by playing Tim a good 33-35 minutes per game when it is a contested game.