I started this like a month or more ago, and have finally come back to finish it up. So, if some of the info is dated, that is why. I've been a Spurs fan for a long time, and i think this is the team that I am without a doubt, most excited about. I'll give my reasons and an analysis of each player after the jump.
1) These guys are pretty excited. I can feel it. Can you? Duncan said it. They're trying to win this.
Despite what you might read or hear, these Spurs are not exactly old. We can run the floor and be super active on defense. The "old" guys are looking pretty fresh from what I can tell.
2) This team is DEEEEEEP. I'm not sure very many people realize how deep. I read that Pop needs to shorten the rotations, and figure out what he is going to do for the playoffs. I'm not sure he's going to this time. We have 11 guys that can really play. We have a second unit that is better than a lot of starting 5s. In fact, three of the players on the bench are career NBA starters.
3) These are not last years Spurs. That's a good thing. Last year we lived and died by 3s. This year, we still hit threes at a prodigious rate, but if they are being guarded well, or aren't going down, we're finding other ways of getting the ball into the basket. Both of these things happened more and more as teams sharpened up heading to the playoffs. Last year's defense was atrocious. Our bench was weak. Our defense is above average. Our defense since the break is top 10. Our offense tops the charts in multiple areas. And I already covered our bench.
4) These guys, top to bottom, are hungry, not for playing time, not for stats, but for points. There is a synergy amongst the group that seems incredible. It saddens me that we probably won't be able to keep most of this crew together in the off-season, even with Duncan taking a much smaller contract. But that's for later. These guys are playing like a team, they are doing their jobs, they are fresh, they are healthy, and they aren't looking past anybody.
Tony Parker - Plenty is being said about Tony, by his team and by the press. Read that. Tony is playing fantastic. He is taking over when he needs to, and I cringe when we are running Neal at the point. Tony is the engine. Pray for health.
Tim Duncan - I can't count the number of times that I've heard the phrase "roll back the clock", "time machine", "2003 Tim Duncan", "vintage Duncan" and variations on those themes as they describe individual plays. After a while, you kinda have to wonder . . . how many of these does he have to string together to get some credit for his health and energy now? Timmy is looking great. He is looking so great, that if we need to get into a grind it out game, or series, I think he is up for the task and we'll be feeding it into the post for him offensively.
Manu Ginobili - Other people have said he is back. I'm not so sure. I think one of the reasons that even when he is on the floor he is letting Tony run the pick and rolls so much is that he isn't feeling quite up to pushing through with that extra gear to the basket that other teams have nightmares about at night. It's one of the things that helps make him such a great passer - he draws sooo much attention. And did I mention he was a great passer? One of the very best. Another reason he might be letting Tony run the PnR so much is that he is shooting so much better from 3 this year than in the past, and that means he stretches the floor FAR more than TP on a wing.
Kawhi - Man I'm happy with this guy. Maybe he makes some mistakes on rotations. I can't analyze the game enough to spot it. I love how active he is, and I really love that he gets his hands on so many things. I think 2 or 3 rebounds per game, and 2 or 3 steals per game come from him getting his hands in and tipping stuff - whether he gets credit for it or not.
Danny Green - Wow, lately Green has come up huge with the 3s when other guys have gone cold. It's like he has ice in his veins or something. Plus he's a good defender. I would like to see Pop try him at the point. He has a good handle and he may be a better passer out of the PnR than Neal. I've liked what I've seen.
Gary Neal - Man can this guy shoot. He takes shots that would make me drive to TX and go postal in a locker room if it were anybody else. He gets a pass because he makes those shots about 70% of the time. I don't like him at the point. He doesn't have great foot speed, his handle isn't great, and that's all on the scouting report. Guys pester him all the way up the floor. He's not great at cutting to the basket off of the PnR, and he's not great at passing to the screener. He's only really good at popping out to 3 point line off the pick and hitting that shot - and people know it, which doesn't make the PnR very effective. Otherwise, he is instant offense.
Tiago Splitter - Tiago is playing great. Tony is learning to pass to him, and of course he and Manu seem to be playing with D leaguers whenever they run the pick and roll on people. He is SOOO good at setting the screen. I'm not sure if he's holding them with his hands or what. Whatever it is, he's really good at knocking the defender off of the ball and then the defense is scrambling. I'd like to see him do less fall away and more fake the fall away and go to the basket, get the contact and/or be in position to rebound. He's hurt right now, and I'm worried about that. I don't know if he is our second best big overall, but he is definitely the best guy to have on the floor when Duncan is getting a breather.
Matt Bonner - What happened to Bonner? He's playing defense. Like above average defense. Last year, I cringed a little bit when he was on the floor. Great three point shooting on offense, but it was a veritable layup drill at the other end. The Red Rocket is different this year. He is super active on defense, is really running the court, still hitting threes, and fouling hard to put people on the line. I watched him against Griffin in the post, and I was again, just cringing, waiting for the highlight dunk. He bodied up, didn't get pushed back, moved his feet laterally to prevent the drive and Griffin put up some pathetic shot from 10-12 feet, like he's Blair or something.
Dejuan Blair - This guy tears apart weak front lines. He is totally active on the offensive boards, and I love it. I especially love a recent trend I've seen of putting the ball in both hands and throwing it down with authority when in traffic, instead of trying to flip it up. I seriously wondered for a while if this guy could jump high enough to dunk. As long as he doesn't try to be a ball-handler/distributor, I'm happy with his play. He's been pretty solid on D as well. His defensive rebounding is way down, but I wonder if that isn't in part because he is playing so many minutes next to Timmy this year vs last year?
Stephen Jackson - This guy is happy to be back. Really happy. And he's playing like it. In fact, some times, I think he's trying to contribute a bit too much, trying to make things happen on his own (like he would have to on another team) and not running the offense. And he turns it over a lot when doing that. Or he takes offense stopping shots. Neal, Parker, and Ginobili are the only ones authorized to do that in my book, two because they are all-stars, and the other I already covered. He's playing hard, he's getting steals, he gives us a lot of defensive versatility and isn't an offensive liability. He brings the chippiness, and perhaps more than anybody else, he is hungry for a ring. I think he is a game changer, like our big 3. He won't disappear in a big game even if he can't make shots. He can will the team to a victory. Count on it. Happy we made the trade.
Boris Diaw - Boris is happy. Fat and happy. Although unless my eyes are deceiving me, this guys is shedding weight. And man, can he move for a big guy. I saw him drive and finish along the baseline like he was Kawhi Leonard or something. I was impressed. It is so nice to be able to have 5 bigs. Last year we effectively had 4, because Tiago was hurt so much of the time and didn't get a lot of burn in the playoffs. And one of them is in the old folks home now if that tells you anything. But Boris is happy, and he's going to play hard. He is out to prove that he belongs, that he can contribute, and he is NOT going to let Tony Parker down.
Patty Mills - I love watching this guy play. He is fast. And he shoots really well. I'm thinking the reason he doesn't get regular time at the point is that he doesn't run the PnR very well. Great pickup, especially since we've had so much garbage time late in the year.
James Anderson - This guy has game. I don't think he's going to stay around, but he's pretty good. Nice to have a guy that good be the last guy off the bench.