My NBA Preview has gotten sidetracked. I still have the Southwest division left. Here's a shocker, I like us to win the division. I'll do the other four teams later. Make sure to click on the links so you can all see how funny I am. Because I'm very funny.
San Antonio Spurs- We're the team to beat, no question. Our only real weakness is age, but Pop does a pretty good job of spreading out the minutes during the regular season so that Tim and Manu are as fresh as possible. Tony plays a bit more, but he's young, so he can handle it. I don't really buy the FT% argument as something that we should be concerned about, no matter what the sock puppets or even the head coach says. It's a bogus stat that looks like it should be important, but it really isn't. Considering that the team with Shaq or Duncan on it has won seven of the last eight rings, free throws really aren't that big of a deal in the long run.
Consider all the things we CAN do... 1) no team spaces the floor better. 2) No team has better chemistry and less internal strife year after year. 3) Nobody does a better job of taking away three pointers. 4) Nobody gets back in transition as well consistently. 5) Nobody can change its look on offense as seamlessly from an up tempo drive and kick game, to a shot clock-chewing low post game, to a small ball team that kills you with threes, to a high-low motion offense, or to a pick-and-roll two man game. Sometimes I think all the offensive versatility actually hinders us because it makes Pop too willing to play the game the way his opponents want to play it instead of our team dictating the rules and the flow. It wouldn't be a horrible idea for us to be a bit more on the stubborn side I think and stick more to lineups that are emphasize defense and rebounding. Smallball is a decent option to have in our back pocket, but it's not something we should ever rely on. The foundation here still has to be defense, not outgunning teams.
Here's a man by man look at the guys...
Timmeh, the Courageous Robotic Leader- Finally freed from the shackles of the cursed plantar fasciitis, this might be Mr. Personality's best shot for a fourth title. He hit the big 3-0 in the offseason, and big men tend to age in dog years. I still don't expect to see play all that well in the second night of back-to-backs, but who really cares? Duncan is mature enough to let Tony run the show during the regular season. At this stage of his career it's useless for him to chase the MVP award since BronBron, Kobe, and Wade are in better situations to put up big numbers anyway and are plugged into the NBA marketing machine. 20-11-3 should be perfectly suitable for Duncan, and if there's anything I'd like him to do better, it'd be to be more consistent with his help defense.
Frenchie McWonderbutt- Once again Tony figures to lead our team in scoring, field goal attempts, minutes, assists, assreamings from Pop, mentions in tabloid magazines, poorly thought out forays into the lane that lead to turnovers, and lastly, French rap albums with trite, unimaginative lyrics. Some Spurs fans may wonder how his psyche will handle being dumped by Eva during the middle of the year, if it should come to pass, but I wouldn't be too worried about it. Their relationship is so well known by this point that if he's ever on the market, there'll be hos lined up for miles and miles at his front door, eager to help him get over it. If any bimbo can get Tony to claim on the record that she's "the best I've ever had, including Eva" that would earn them major status among their bimbo gangs. I've pledged to take it easy on Tony this year. As long as he doesn't shoot threes, keeps the turnovers to under three a night, and passes it to Manu every now and then, I'll be happy.
The Hustlemaker- I'm not in full fledged panic mode yet, but the early returns aren't very promising. It's only taken four years, but it appears that teams have finally figured out that Manu's left-handed. He's being either trapped or heavily overplayed to his left now and thus far he hasn't able to sneak in between the double team like we've seen in the past. The good news is that for the moment he's healthy and he might get six or seven assists a night if guys could knock down some shots. A little too content with his third banana role for my taste, but whatever.
Bruuuuce- Harsh? Perhaps. What can I say, I was a little less than impressed with the combined 56 points he gave up to The Big Bug and Bronnie in back-to-back nights. I fear that at age 35, it might be too much to expect lockdown defense from Bowen on most nights. He's pretty much useless at this point against any guy who's not a stranger to his facility's weight room. As always most of Bowen's success will depend on how much the refs let him get away with and how good the big men behind him are playing. His offense will be sporadic as always and I still contend that our best chance to beat the Mavs in the playoffs is to replace him with Fin and keep the center in there.
FabO- Pop's "Best ugly player I've ever seen" remains our starting five for now, and he had a hell of a game against a soft Suns team, but I don't see this lasting much past December. He doesn't rebound well enough on defense, doesn't provide any shot blocking, and on most nights, can't really guard anyone. His hustle and effort will make him stand out on the odd night, but personally I feel it'll be an upset if he's even in the rotation by May. It really depends on Butler's development. By the way Matt, thanks for the picture. Just the one's fine though.
Findog- As bad as I felt for Manu and Tim the way last year ended, I was depressed most of all for Mike, and I imagine he took the loss harder than anyone. I can certainly understand if regular season games against the likes of Cleveland and Toronto won't exactly thrill him, but I don't believe we'll be seeing another Robert Horry special here. He's going to stink for maybe the first quarter of the season or so, but he'll eventually get into it mentally and he'll once again be one of our most dependable guys down the stretch. He'll be gobbling up a decent chunk of Bruce's minutes before the year's out, you watch.
Anti-Nazr- Because he's from Holland you see... isn't that a hoot? But seeing this guy play is so refreshing after what we've had to deal with the past few years. No wimpy three foot hook shots, no useless pumpfakes, no butterfingers. Just catch ball, dunk ball. Simple. Sure his defense and rebounding will leave us wanting some nights, but at least he has a pulse. Once he gets used to playing with everybody, I think we'll see a steady dose of 10 and 7 every night, even with just 25 mins of PT at the most.
Roho- Ssshhhhhhhhh.... Do not disturb. He's hibernating `til May.
Bones- I love the team's resident comedian and hope he lasts the whole season on our roster. He keeps going in and out of Pop's doghouse like he's got a mistress stashed there but this has been his best start so far in any season as a Spur. I liked him a lot more with hair though. Now he looks like a used Q-tip. I've mentioned how the most fun part of any game is when he, Manu, and Beno are on the floor together right? I've brought that up a couple hundred times by now, yes?
Bean-O- Will Udrih ever be able to play consistently enough to satisfy Pop? Probably not. But the man who John Hollinger calls "the 23rd best point guard in the NBA" is capable of shooting it, passing it, running a competent break, moving his feet on defense, and getting the ball over the half-court line without turning it over. He just doesn't seem to be able of doing all these things in the same game. On a good night he does three or four. On a bad night he does one or two. It's part of what makes watching Spurs basketball so fascinating - every night we get a different Beno. Plus his name is just fun to say... Beaaaaaaaaaaan-Oh!
Red Rocket- Horry is basically handing him a rotation spot on a silver platter. All he has to do is take advantage of the opportunity. So far... not so much. Simmons said that he could be another Danny Ferry for us (strictly observing the unwritten law that states when you tell people who an athlete reminds you of, it has to be somebody of the same race) but I don't think Bonner is nearly that gritty. Right now he's not even another Kiwi for us.
Mild Thing- We all know that there will come a point this season, possibly quite soon, where Pop will be so fed up with Beno that he'll shout at PJ, "Get me Vaughn!"
And PJ will give him an open-mouthed blank stare for a moment before responding, "You mean Rick Vaughn?"
And with this Pop will slap PJ right in the face in front of 20,000 people before screaming, more to himself than anyone else, "No you idiot, I mean Jacque, our actual real life point guard, not some fictional pitcher played by that no talent man-whore Charlie Sheen. Why are we even paying you?"
And this piece of brilliant comedy is a roundabout way of telling you that I can think of nothing interesting to say about Jacque Vaughn.
Big Sexy- Okay so Jackie Butler didn't exactly look like that before the Spurs got a hold of him. Still, our savior has a long way to go before Pop lets him see the floor. What will it take for that to happen, an injury to one of the other guys or just a prolonged stretch of ineptitude? Tonight's game vs. the Knicks would be an excellent chance for him to get his feet wet, just to rub Isiah's nose in it a little, but it probably won't happen. Can we win a title with just the Oberto/Elson tandem? I don't see it. P.S., don't go to Yahoo images and type "Fat black guy." Just trust me on this one, the results were disastrous.
Insert Clever Nickname Here- Eric Williams will never play. You hear me Pop? Never ever? Never ever.
Flight- If y'all just wanted a flashy dunker, I would have rather signed Tony's countryman Kadour Ziani. If you look for it, you'll notice cameos from Manu, Bruce, and Tony in the video. I know I know, you're telling me White isn't here just for his dunking, he's supposed to be Bruce's heir apparent as a defensive SF. Fine. Then let's dump Williams and pick up Ziani then. Deal?