After slimming to a cool 14 players on Sunday, the Spurs will take on the Orlando Magic with what will most likely be their opening day roster. Not a whole lot of controversy remains about the Spurs roster, aside from who will play backup point guard and how Pop will manage the backup small forward situation.
Heck, even the remaining questions aren't even that big. At backup point guard, Cory Joseph will enter the season as the incumbent, with it being his job to lose. As long as he's not an overall minus on the floor and can keep the driver's seat warm for Tony Parker, he shouldn't have much trouble keeping minutes. Should he play himself out of a job, Patty Mills has put himself in better position than Nando De Colo to get playing time. Mills has a Gary Neal-y feel to his game, except he's inherently more fun than Neal. Him flying up and down the court has been one of the only joys to watch in the preseason, and in small doses that fun should continue in the regular season.
At the small forward position, when Kawhi Leonard is on the bench, there will be a healthy mix of Manu Ginobili, Marco Belinelli, and Danny Green as the Spurs will roll with a three-guard lineup. Something to follow through the season will be the defensive capability at the position, since Ginobil isn't the defender he used to be, Green can be bodied down low by bigger opponents, and Belinelli just isn't that talented on that side of the ball.
The Magic come into this game -- and into the season -- with a bunch of intriguing young assets, but no real cohesive unit yet. Maybe the most intriguing of these assets is guard Victor Oladipo, who came into the league drawing comparisons to Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade. The similarities between the two are fairly eery in terms of playing style and athleticism, as both came into the NBA as high-flying combo guards without a reliable jumper. The similarities continue on now that Oladipo is being asked to learn and run the point guard position in his first year, just as Wade did. Whether he continues playing that role or goes back to playing shooting guard in the future remains to be seen, but building up his point guard skills will give Oladipo a chance to become a very dynamic player early in his career.
Orlando has a few other building blocks in Tobias Harris, future-Swiss-Army-knife Moe Harkless, and Andrew Nicholson, who is now apparently a three-point threat after attempting zero shots from beyond the arc last year. But, the Magic don't have nearly enough to be even a fringe playoff team, so they'll probably just punt this season and start tanking for Andrew Wiggins as soon as they can.
But, because this is preseason, anything can happen. The Spurs' main minute-getters probably won't play that much, as we all know they need their rest. The Spurs' questions are all but answered, and we know what we'll get from the silver-and-black tonight: spread-pick-and-roll, rinse, repeat. The Magic, however, have so far to go. It'll be interesting to watch their young guns and learn even more about them.
Magic perspective may be found at: Orlando Pinstriped Post.
Game Prediction: Spurs by...actually, who cares? It's preseason.
As always Tony must dominate Fisher, and NBA League Pass is recommended for those who are willing to pony up the cash. Almost every Spurs game will be broadcast there, which is especially helpful for those of us who aren't in the San Antonio area. Please don't post links to illegal game feeds in the game thread. Links to illegal feeds are not permitted on SBNation, but you can probably find them out there on the internets if you're resourceful and desperate.
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More from Pounding The Rock:
- Why Patty Mills should be the Spurs backup point guard
- Why Nando De Colo should be the Spurs backup point guard
- Why Cory Joseph should be the Spurs backup point guard
- What really went wrong with Manu last year
- Spurs waive Courtney Fells, Dan Nwaelele; Roster at 14