With every season's end there is much debate about what went wrong and even more speculation about what needs to change for the following year. Everyone has their own opinion on what the team should do to improve for next season. Whether it's trade rumors, free agency possibilities, or the draft, people have already begun to put together their ideas of the team's recipe for future success. These methods are all necessary when attempting to improve a team but perhaps more important is the level of improvement made by players who are already on the team. One can not expect a role player to improve to the level of an all star, but the improvements they make can go a long way in helping the team.
There are many valid arguments that promote the Spurs going out to acquire new players. However, there are just as many reasons why keeping the guys we have can be better. Keeping our guys saves money and there is no "adjustment period" for guys who have already been in the system. This doesn't mean that these guys can simply sit at home eating Doritos and watch 24 all day; they have to get better. The Spurs currently have 7 players on their roster with guaranteed contracts for next season and Hairston has a bit of non-guaranteed money. Each of these players has room for improvement and each must improve in different ways.
Tim Duncan-Not much you can ask of a 34 yr old big man who has done just about everything a player can do in his career. Tim just needs to keep doing what he's been doing all these years. He works hard every summer and gets results every year so he's good. If he could just stay healthy and not overwork himself throughout the season, his shooting percentages that we all complained about should go up, if only a little.
Antonio McDyess-Much like Tim, there's not much you can ask Dice to do but be more consistent. He had a solid year and i think that, having gelled with the team, he should be better next season.
Manu Ginobili-Manu is the man. He says that he wants to work on his mid-range game and become a better shooter. I'm glad he said it because I was unsure of what to say for him. The fact that he can say what he needs to improve on says that he is a pro and knows he needs to improve. The fact that he can admit it shows that he does not let his pride hinder his improvement. I love this.
Tony Parker-Tony seems be unsure of whether he should skip international play this summer. Regardless of if he plays or not, he has already planned on coming out blazing next season. He said, "I want to be really good next year so I'm going to work really hard this summer, even more than I did in the past." This is the right attitude to have. If Tony can come back and just be healthy it would be fine but it would help if he can continue to get better with his shooting. If Tony can get more consistent from deep he would be unbelievably difficult to guard, even more than he is now.
Richard Jefferson-No one really knows what RJ's future with this team is but his contract runs to next season. So if RJ is a Spur in 2011 let's hope he's better than he was this year. I mean any worse would be Mase so he should certainly improve. First off, he needs to learn to play better within the team, accept his role on the team. Next, his shooting is terribly inconsistent so how about get better at that? Or just stop settling for jumpers all together. I actually think RJ would be best served in the post. He has the size to post up but doesn't take advantage of this by taking fadeaway jumpers every time. What is the point in that? Rage if you are a Spur next year, get in the gym and learn to post up effectively. You have one of the best pot-up guys in the history of the game on your team, learn from him.
George Hill-The improvement George made in one year was outstanding. One can't expect him to improve this much again but it would not be surprising if he did. George just needs to keep polishing his overall game. He can still get better as a shooter, maybe learn to be consistent from threes other than the corner as well as shooting off the dribble on the pick and roll. He can try to get a little stronger so he doesn't get abused in the post on a nightly basis by bigger guards. This may surprise some but I think George has fallen off a bit on the defensive end. Maybe he's focussed more on offense or maybe I've gotten so used to his defense that nothing he does surprises me anymore. At any rate, George just needs to continue his tremendous work ethic and his game should improve to suit.
DeJuan Blair-Dejuan was a rookie this season. He surprised a lot of people with his exciting play in the beginning of the season. He made rookie mistakes and was a bit excited all season long but one can expect these problems to go away next season. As far as his skills are concerned I don't expect Dejuan to try to do too much to his game. He just needs to improve what he already does. He can get a better and more refined pot game and a solid short range jumper. That's it. He's already a great rebounder and hustles better than most guys in the league. With these skills, especially at his size, he could be our version of Paul Millsap which is not bad at all.
Malik Hairston- In the limited time that he's played, Malik has shown flashes of a solid player especially on defense. There is always room for improvement though and there has to be some reason why Pop played Keith Bogans before him in the rotation. So Malik needs to become a good shooter (we need this a lot) from mid range. I see him as more of a slasher so if he doesn't shoot 3's well I won't mind. For now he should focus on his shooting off screens as well as his movement without the ball. His defense is solid and his awareness will naturally get better with playing time.
As you can see the Spurs have more young players on the team. The point in having young players is to see them improve with the team, here is their chance. I love the ideas people have been coming up with about free agency and the draft but I thought the improvement our guys made were more important. As always you have the right to disagree. Whatever happens, this will be what I'm most eager to see.Any ideas you guys have you can let me know.