With all these recent goings-ons by the Spurs i found myself studying the bench more than the starting lineup that might see new life in a rejuvenated Parker, better acclimated RJ, and Euro MVP Splitter. Instead I looked at the impact these moves have made on the bench.
Hill and Manu can now play off the bench and do what they do best, dominate weaker second units and tired first unit players still left in. As if these guys didn't already dominate fresh first unit players. We also see what could be a much improved Blair and Dyess's defense added to a high power offensive second team.
This lead me to wonder, who's team is better? Tim Duncan's first team, or Manu Ginobili's second team? The answers after the jump.
First let me say that I don't know if Tiago Splitter will start or if even James Anderson will, and we could even see Hill start at the 2. Anderson could possibly start at the 3 with RJ off the bench or the other way around. It's impossible to really say for sure with the mad genius of Gregg Popovich. But here's what seems like the most likely lineups to me:
SF: either FA or Gee/Hairston....I'll say Gee
At center we see a heated matchup of youth versus old in Tiago Splitter versus Antonio McDyess. It's unknown how well Splitter will do, but we know the skill set he brings to the Spurs. Mobile P&R defense, a nice shooting stroke, some post moves (never really used them in Europe).
Fortunately for San Antonio McDyess, he's faced similar in a proven NBA star and done very well. McDyess's defense versus Dirk Nowitski was rather impressive last year in the playoffs. Now while I doubt McDyess would get his jumper off with the faster Splitter on him defensively, I see problems for Splitter doing the same.
McDyess's veteran savvy and experience/prowess over mobile shooting bigs gives him the edge over Tiago still-finding-my-sea-legs Splitter. But McDyess would only get about 4 points in this match up.
Victor: Second team McDyess
Match Up-Power Forward
The battle of age opposites begins again but now reversed as the wise Duncan finds himself looming over the Grizzly Blair Cub (he just ain't a full grown Grizzly Blair yet). I really don't want to go into the nightmare scenario of this match up, but i will anyway.
Duncan has amazing post moves which he's used to make up for lack of being 7' tall to beat said 7 footers. Now he finds himself matched up basically against a big burly 3. Duncan would have a field day against poor Blair. I'd almost say Dyess would be playing Duncan, if it wasn't for how well Dyess matches up versus Splitter. Even if Blair gets a good jumper, Duncan defends a great shooter in Garnett year in and year out very nicely.
Victor: First team Duncan
Match Up-Small Forward:
Jefferson versus Gee. A battle of unknowns it would seem. The D-League ROY faces a struggling and disheartened RJ. However I can't say for sure how good RJ may find himself in his second year, and the same could be said for Gee. But since Gee won D-League ROY in basically the same Spurs system, I'd say Gee will be a bit more improved.
Now does that make Gee equal to RJ, most likely not. But Gee does have a good 3-ball and good defense, more than can be said of Richard Jefferson. After seeing RJ's effort through most of the year and "defense" against 3 shooters, I'm very skeptical with giving RJ the edge.
Overall though, I have to put RJ's experience in the NBA over that of Gee.
Victor: First Team Jefferson
Match Up-Shooting Guard:
So we get the bald spot versus the highlight reel. I feel bad for Anderson here because Manu crushes top SG's on a nightly basis, not to go against a rookie who's defense was regarded as "solid" for college. Oh my....
Anderson will be getting blocked, stealed, dunked on, blown by, and 3-balled. This isn't even close. Manu's D even beats Anderson's offense really.
Victor: Second Team Manu
Match Up-Point Guard:
Hill versus Parker. Seems fitting that the tie breaker be between these two. Parker is back and fully recovered and he's hellbent on
earning his money in New York getting a nice big extension in San Antonio. It's hard to say if Parker's jumpshot is back or not, if not then that could be problematic. Especially if he's also a step slow in penetration as seen last year. Maybe it was just that one year injury, but could it have lasting effects?
Meanwhile you know what you get in Hill. A man who's got a nice 3-point shot, nice mid-range shot, and physical driving ability. Oh and that length and defensive prowess is nice too.
I honestly expect Parker to be a little....off next year and I expect Hill to keep improving. I may or may not be right. Both Hill and Parker have good track records versus good points in the league. Hill's played great D on the new hot topic at PG in Rondo, while Parker has blown through the aforementioned Rondo's great defense.
Thus I look at who's weakness is stronger. Hill's offense versus Parker's defense. I've never thought Parker a good defender and that's not gonna change. He's played some good games, but he's played some horrible ones too. For the most part he's an average defender, and that's not bad thing. At least he's not just a pure offense no defense guy.
Hill meanwhile has really stepped up his offensive repertoire to keep from being a Bogans (player with no offense but good defense). From physical drives that resemble his master Parker, to 3 point shots that take us back to 08-09 Roger Mason.
Ultimately I can't help but go with Hill because of such uncertainty towards Parker. Parker is a better passer for sure, but the second team doesn't need Hill to pass, they have Manu.
Victor: Second Team Hill
Winner: Manu's Team in a close game.
Ultimate Victor: Spurs fans. For being the only fanbase in the NBA who can have a discussion like this and it be relevant. San Antonio, where your first string is matched only by your second string.