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There’s an interesting set of circumstances being revealed in the early stages of pre-season. As mentioned by RC Buford, this camp would not be determined just by working with the regulars and all invites have a better than average chance in years past to making the team. Maybe not so much the case with the team’s set players on the perimeter. But with the final roster spot yet to be determined, one could assume the 15th player will more than likely be of the 3/4 or 4/5 variety.
And before I go into a brief description of what I see evolving I think it important to say…I don’t think the “15th” spot is being considered just for an end of the bench player who will see more action cheering or handing out congratulatory statements. No…I think it’s going to be more about developing integration of the entire roster for the long season.
So if it’s going to boil down to Curry, Powell or Brown to fill that important role. Funny isn’t it?…one hardly considers the “15th” roster spot to be an integral position. But again…I believe this year is different. Let’s look at what each player has done thus far and then how any one of them might fit best for the Spurs this season.
The surprise camp invite based on the oft troubled player’s circumstances over the past 4 to 5 years has in turn “surprised” many a doubter with his trimmed down physique and somewhat return to quality attributes. Curry is BIG as in physical stature. An imposing yet not quite intimidating feature on the defensive side of the ball, Curry could provide enough help to alter shots in the paint and provide strength against some of the larger more physical opponents in the league. He sure could be used more than sparingly for the Spurs this season to help offset fatigue on Duncan and/or Splitter not having a good game. Or…worse case scenario relied upon in case of injury this season to either the two. And if Curry proves to be the reliable interior scorer he once exhibited, the Spurs could always use a strong scoring presence in the middle to better help its perimeter game function more effectively even as an integrated member off the bench.
Josh seems motivated this training camp to rediscover the talents that once made him a good and dependable attribute off the bench. Decent defender (in the post) and defensive rebounds with an offensive skill set the Spurs lacked in its big men last year. The ability to help knock down open jumpers certainly serves purpose in a Spurs offensive weakness of not having enough players who can dependably hit those shots. That plus Powell’s similarity to playing like Antonio McDyess certainly weighs favoritism since it’s an attribute the Spurs incorporated once and with success. But could Powell remain consistent coming off the bench? His first two games indicated a strong argument for being the “15th” man selection. However, Brown and Curry have upped their performances since Powell’s surge and created a so called level playing field. Powell must continue to be as effective his first two games the rest of pre-season. If he shows consistency he definitely deserves high consideration.
The all too familiar phrase of athletic 3/4 best describes Brown. His defense is superb and can guard quite effectively 3’s, 4’s and some instances 2’s in this league. He’s shown a great propensity in being able to be in the right spot offensively while off the ball. He gives the Spurs a unique ability to provide the team a slasher to the rim as well as fast break opportunities and scores effectively when around the rim. Draw back thus far….Derrick Brown can’t hit an open jumper to save his life. But would that be as much a concern if surrounded by scorers who can pass? Brown in essence would help the perimeter game. If opponents defend too close to our perimeter players, Brown is an excellent weak side option to dishing the ball to when slashing to the rim. Something the Spurs didn’t have last season regarding a dependable option to scoring other than attempting long 2’s and 3 point shots. Brown’s effectiveness could be used more often in game situations and with a wider variety of personnel the Spurs already possess thus making him more than your typical 15th player who doesn’t see much playing time.
Personally, I preferred Brown over the other two at the beginning of camp. But my personal preference is not what may help the team in the long run. And in keeping with the theme of this post, it’s more important this year to be able to integrate that “15th” player.
Who out of the three seem best for that integration is hard to determine. They all have similar numbers thus far with each providing their own strengths to helping them achieve those numbers. Who best integrates on this Spurs team will be the hardest decision the coaches have to make. Best of luck to all of them…they’ve thus far been a pleasant surprise.