Sports Illustrated is ranking the league's top 100 players. As we've already discussed, David West and Manu Ginobili were snubbed while Tony Parker was ranked 54th. Three other Spurs have made an appearance on the two following updates, with Danny Green landing at 50, LaMarcus Aldridge ranking 12th and Tim Duncan 11th. When it's all said and done, the Spurs will have five players on the top 100, four in the top 50 and three on the top 15, according to SI.
Let's star with Green. Danny has proved to be durable, missing only 15 games over the past four years. That's huge for a team that wants to limit Manu Ginobili's minutes. He has been more productive than anyone could have anticipated, going from D-Leaguer to quality two-way wing. The Spurs always receive praise from unearthing hidden gems and Green is the best example of it.
Here's what Ben Golliver has to say (click on "read more" to see the whole blurb):
Danny Green (Ranked 50. Last season rank: 96)
Spurs guard Danny Green is the archetype of the "3-and-D" model, as he combines elite three-point shooting and elite all-around defense in a team framework that only requires him to be a complementary piece. "Elite" isn't being tossed around here lightly. Among players with at least five three-point attempts per game, Green ranked fourth in effective field goal percentage, trailing only Kyle Korver, Stephen Curry and J.J. Redick. Among all two guards, Green ranked fourth in Real Plus-Minus, trailing only James Harden, Khris Middleton and Korver, and his +9.9 net rating led all Spurs players with at least 65 games played.
Locking down a very good starting shooting guard for $10 million a year in the current market was a coup. Green has said he only took what he was worth but make no mistake: he gave the Spurs a discount.
The Spurs' big summer addition remained at the same spot he had last year. It's not that surprising, considering Aldridge has reached his maturity as a player and all that's left for him to do is remain consistent. Here's are his per 36 minutes numbers from the past two seasons.
Aldridge made a jump in 2013 and has sustained that star-quality level. At 30 years of age and with a game that is not heavily predicated on athleticism, he should be able to maintain it for at least a couple more years. It wouldn't be surprising to see him remain a top 20 player for the duration of his contract with the Spurs.
Here's what Rob Mahoney had to say (click on "read more" to see the whole blurb):
LaMarcus Aldridge (Ranked 12. Last season rank: 12)
In back-to-back seasons, Aldridge was the definitive axis of one of the NBA's better offenses. Portland leaned heavily on Aldridge's post game as a means of creation. Individual coverage with committed perimeter defense would be met with a turnaround jumper—the staple of his repertoire. Any additional pressure or laziness on the part of off-ball defenders would feed into the Blazers' flow. Aldridge would first give up the ball in the cleanest way possible and following a chain reaction of swing passes, Portland would either seize an opportunity or reset through Aldridge. That basic rhythm carried the Blazers to something resembling title contention; although reasonable people can disagree as to how much of a threat they posed, the healthy 2014-15 Blazers had all the statistical markings of a should-be contender.
In a lot of ways, Aldridge is like Carmelo Anthony. He might not be the most efficient offensive player but his ability to make tough shots is conducive to an efficient team offense.
Finally, there's Big Fun himself, Tim Duncan. Duncan understandably fell out of the top 10 after having a slightly worse year than 2013/14, at least statistically. He's still one of the best big man in the league and with Aldridge in tow, he won't be asked to do as much as he had to last season on offense with Parker in an out of the lineup.
Here's Golliver on Duncan (click on "read more" to see the whole blurb):
Tim Duncan (Ranked 11th. Last season rank: 5)
The new Netflix series "Narcos" repeatedly recites an old line, the one about how only the cockroaches will survive a nuclear holocaust. I watched as the show's camera tracked these perseverant little bugs across a post-apocalyptic desert, and I kept expecting an unfazed Tim Duncan to be banking in jumpers and posting a 20-plus PER somewhere in the dusty background.
Duncan's numbers will likely take a dip with Aldridge around. He's surely fine with that. The Spurs will need him to remain sharp on defense, which is an area in which age hasn't taken its toll yet.
Despite Duncan's lower ranking, the Spurs will have a player in the top 10. Kawhi Leonard's name hasn't appeared on the list yet but will soon. All that's left to see is how high he ranks.
Do you agree with the rankings so far? Check out the original article and share your opinion in the comments.