Hey PtR! KA1Z3R again with another post about the Spurs needing to make a move. I know I posted something like that only just a few days ago, but this is not about move ideas. This is just the why and the what, as in what will happen if no major move is done. Check it after the jump.
WARNING: IF YOU DO NOT LIKE TO READ PESSIMISM IN REGARDS TO THE SPURS, DOOM AND GLOOM, DARK OUTLOOKS, OR WHAT THIS WRITER CONSIDERS HARSH REALITY WITH A ITTLE BIT OF HOPE PLACED THROUGHOUT, DO NOT GO ON!
Let's face facts people, the Spurs are not a championship team in its current form. There's just no way. Let's just start by looking at teams I'm looking at as championship contenders next year.
Dallas- They're old, but they're built about 10 players deep with a top-notch big man rotation. Almost of all those ten players would be starters in San Antonio. All approximate ten could be starters for many teams in the NBA. The Mavs are just flat-out deep and incredibly well-rounded.
Miami- Raw athleticism and star power mixed with some vet savvy. Seems to be the new winning trend in the NBA.
Atlanta- Yes Atlanta. One or two moves to improve the bench would be enough. Hyper athletic, mismatches everywhere, and a couple almost stars. Atlanta just needs a little more depth.
Boston- Star power and pure defense. Old, but never out of the mix with that D and the Big 4. Doesn't hurt to have a pretty good bench too.
Los Angeles- Another big 4 of sorts with great overall D. Great big group. As long as they have Pau and Kobe, they're a championship team.
Chicago- Pure defense and Derrick Rose.
Memphis- Yep, Memphis. This team almost made the Western Conference Finals WITHOUT arguably their BEST player in Rudy Gay. A healthy Gay could make them deadly. Amazing big rotation, great D, physically overpowering, and they're decently young too.
So what can we draw from this? What is a common trend with these teams? Defense, great big man depth, star power, athleticism, great overall depth. And which of these do the Spurs have? You can say athleticism via Manu, Neal, Hill, Blair, and Parker. However, athleticism alone isn't enough.
Let's face facts, the Spurs don't have great depth, the big rotation is in the bottom half of the NBA, the defense is porous, and we no longer have real star power. Yes I said it, we don't have star power. Why?
Manu Ginobili had a great season for sure. But this team does not go as Manu goes. His play doesn't elevate others like it used to. He doesn't lead the team out of the fire. Sure those 17-25 point games are very nice, but Manu often has to take too many shots. Especially from 3. Manu is a shooter, and I get this, but that's the problem. Manu is a slasher. His jump shot has never been great. It's been good enough to keep defenders honest so that he can use his dynamic athleticism and agility to cut a swathe of terror through the defense.
Gino has sadly become the thing I despise in the NBA. A volume shooter. He has to shoot a lot to score a lot. Those games where he's taking seven threes is ridiculous. The only person who should shoot that many 3's is Bonner or Neal. Manu isn't consistent enough. And the old adage, "the best thing for a shooter is to keep shooting," doesn't fit Manu. He's not a shooter because his shot isn't consistent or reliable. The saying for him should be, "the best thing for a slasher is to shoot sparingly." Not catchy, but it works. Manu is still a star, he just needs to go back to what made him a star.
Tony Parker is good. He's a talented player. But he's not a star anymore. He's not a 20 ppg player anymore. He's lost that speed and his jump shot hasn't developed to compensate. When a scoring point has lost his dynamic speed, he needs a jump shot to fall back on. Parker does not have this. So maybe he becomes more of a passer? His assist numbers were up last year to I believe a career high, but I was screaming at my TV almost every night the Spurs were on, when Parker would drive against three guys when there's a perfectly open RJ or Bonner at the 3-line, or Duncan for a signature mid-range.
Parker's court vision is still lacking to be a passing star point. Parker is still good. Not to beat a dead horse, but there's literally no better time to trade him then now. Mike Conley flat out owned him in the playoffs and he's not the same Parker anymore. He's still good enough and just young enough to where other teams would love him, but just enough past his prime that he's tradeable for the Spurs.
Tim Duncan meanwhile is just old. It's not that he's lost his way, or lost ability due to injury, it's that his glorious career is withering away along with his ability. You can still definitely get a very solid 17 point, 10 rebound, 4 assist, 1-2 block kind of game out of him very consistently along with tremendous defense, but he'll get beat by younger better players. The Dwight Howard's, Pau Gasol's, Kevin Love's, Andrew Bynum's, LaMarcus Aldridge's, etc. of the league are starting to get the better of the beloved GOATPUFF.
Duncan is still a great player, and he still gives those bigs I mentioned a definite run for their massive money. He just can't do it by himself anymore. Either Splitter, Bonner, or whoever he's paired with on the court steps up to where Duncan doesn't have to run ragged helping out on D and they themselves can help him, or Duncan will show that when faced one-on-one with a shooting big or a stronger 7-footer, he will not be that dominant defender he once was.
The Spurs Big 3 is now more of a.....Chubby 3. They're not stars anymore, or at least they haven't played like it, they're three great players. And when you have three great players, you have to build up a better overall depth. The Spurs have not accomplished this. Why?
Well let's look at our depth and what surrounds the Chubby 3.
PG: George Hill is the primary backup, and my opinion of him is much lower than many here. Hill is a great guy, I've chatted with him via Myspace before, and he's a talented player. However, he's not a point guard. He can slash, he can shoot, he can hit a 3, he can play D, but all inconsistently and often only for short stints. There's times Hill looks completely lost. His shooting is very on-and-off. And he turns the ball over way too much. Hill is not a good backup point guard. Maybe a 2 guard, but we're stacked there. Hill is a great trade bait, and should be used as such. Quinn is fine for a #3 point.
SG: This is where the Spurs prosper. After Manu, you've got Nailgun Neal and the 2-3 combos of Green and Anderson. All three can shoot the ball from over pretty consistently, all are serviceable or good defensively (Neal). Neal could be a legit 6th. man of year contender with some more minutes. Green and Anderson split time at the 3, but play the 2 as well and pretty decently at that. Especially for usually being the third option in the rotation.
SF: Richard Jefferson is a quality role player. But if we can bring in a Grant Hill, Shane Battier, or even Tayshaun Prince (guy has had the lowest morale in Detroit, can you blame him?), RJ should be used as trade bait. He can shoot the 3 well, but he doesn't play aggressive anymore and his D isn't good enough to make up for the black hole h often is on offense. Danny Green and especially James Anderson are quality depth though, just undersized. It'd be nice to get a guy with actual SF size in for depth, and who knows how good Butler will be. As a West Virginia resident, I saw plenty of him. If he stays healthy, he has the ability to challenge for a starting spot.
Big Men: This group is quite frankly horrible outside of Duncan. Whether lack of talent or not being used properly, this group is a major weakness. Blair isn't anywhere near good enough on offense to make up for how terrible his defense is. I like DeJuan, but he needs traded. Bonner is an amazing 3 shooter who's also got a nice dribble drive. If he ever got his mid-range consistent, he could be outstanding offensively. Enough to more than make up for his bad try-hard D. Needs to be paired with Splitter or Duncan though, him and Blair together are the worst big duo in the NBA defensively.
As for Tiago Splitter, he's pretty much the best big behind Duncan. That's terrible considering he barely played and was sloppy and inconsistent when he did. Tiago does however, play some very good defense. Once he shakes off the nerves and gets some time on the court, he's also shown some good offensive moves. Another year and a lot more playing time are all Tiago needs. His potential is crazy high, and even now he's still a solid big. If Pop doesn't get him more minutes, and play him in situations we drafted him for (cough defending 7 footers and bulkier bigs like Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph respectively cough), then his coaching abilities will be severely under question in this writer's mind.
Thus, we're back to not having a great or even good big rotation. You need to be 4 deep at big man to win the NBA now. The Spurs are barely two deep. Get Blair out please, he hurts the team far more than he helps it. Play Splitter with Bonner as well. After that, GET NAZR MOHAMMED FOR THE LOVE OF GOD FOR VETERAN MINIMUM! and pull some sort of move to get a good starting big in San Antonio.
It's no longer, the team should trade for a big man/SF, it's the NEED to. If this team isn't willing to part with young projects like Hill and Blair that aren't consistent contributors and often hurt the team, then they may well give up. If they want young developments who might be good someday, but aren't good enough in the Duncan era, then just get rid of the Chubby 3 because you're wasting their time. These guys want another ring, but if you won't man up, damn the torpedoes, push all the chips in, pull out the big guns, etc., then please don't waste their times.
The Spurs can't win another ring without pulling a trade. The MLE is not enough. One solid player is not enough. This team needs at least two, maybe three, GOOD players to win another title. The star power isn't there anymore, the athleticism isn't great enough, the defense not sound enough, so get the amazing depth and well-roundedness to win.
Get the team that's so deep, and so multi-faceted, that no team can adequately gameplan around it. It's how Dallas won their title. The Spurs have the trade assets, they have good talent already on board (some of which is still getting better such as Anderson, Splittler, Neal, Bonner), they have the Chubby 3. If the Spurs don't pull a trade or some such big move, Tim will never get a fifth ring.