1 - What should the Spurs' New Year's resolution be?
Michael Erler: To figure out their crunch-time lineups both against traditional and small-ball lineups. Where does LaMarcus Aldridge fit into that? What about Tim Duncan? Boris Diaw? It seems simplistic to say "Just play your five Hall-of-Famers." That may not be ideal against the Warriors or the Thunder. They need to come up with a real solution because by and large what they've tried so far hasn't worked very well, especially on the road. The problem is the only way you can practice this kind of thing is to keep finding yourself in close games, and the Spurs have so many blowouts, particularly at home.
Bruno Passos: To piggy-back on Erler's answer, I think it should be gleaning something about defending small-ball. The more the Warriors use their death-squad lineup against SA in the upcoming four regular-season games, the better, (although I question how much they will) but either way I think Pop will see each of those matchups as opportunities to experiment and learn.
Jesus Gomez: To figure out how to better utilize LaMarcus Aldridge in the clutch. As Michael said, there haven't been enough close games to experiment but Aldridge was a killer late in games in Portland and he has been marginalized at times in San Antonio. Hopefully Pop finds clever ways to get him the ball, especially if the other team goes small and puts a wing on him.
Brett Jones: Winning the championship, of course!
J.R. Wilco: To stay healthy. Or at least to be healthy once the playoffs start. Last postseason, Tony and Manu were both shadows of themselves. So if it means continued or increased rest days for Tim, Manu, or even Tony, so be it. Seeding is important, but health is even more so.
2 - What's your favorite memory of the 2015 part of the season?
Erler: There's individual highlight moments for different guys here and there but as weird as it sounds my favorite memory comes from a loss, the season-opener at Oklahoma City. Kawhi Leonard showed what was possible for him and how far he's come at both ends, just destroying Kevin Durant. It was thrilling stuff and incredibly exciting. For the Spurs to have any chance to win a title, they need Leonard to play at that level. The exciting aspect of the team is watching to see if the different elements of it, from Aldridge to Tony Parker, Danny Green and the bench guys can rise up and gel around Leonard and form that Spurs Death-Star that we all know and love.
Passos: Probably the opening game at OKC. Despite the loss, we saw Kawhi really go after Durant and exhibit the type of play that's defined this incredible season for him. Plus it meant basketball was officially back.
Gomez: I love watching Manu Ginobili play well, so this season has had plenty of good moments for me. If I have to single one out, I'd go with this dunk, since it combines the Spurs' patented ball movement with Manu actually getting up and throwing it down with two hands.
Jones: Technically not the 2015 *season*, but when news broke of the LaMarcus signing I literally jumped up and down like a small child.
Wilco: Not a "moment" exactly, but seeing Kawhi take the Spurs' reins and lead the team as San Antonio's best player is my favorite part of this season. I'm still amazed that he's as
good great as he is.
3 - Which was the best Spurs game of the 2015 part of the season?
Erler: Again in terms of high-level basketball by both teams, it has to be the OKC season-opener, just an incredibly well played game for October. But they've played extraordinarily well in lots of games, both the ones against the Hawks, the Pacers game, against the Ciippers offensively and maybe 15 of them defensively. There hasn't been one standout performance against a really good team yet. The schedule has just been really soft and there haven't been many close wins. The L.A. game is memorable because they entered the fourth quarter trailing and the bench turned that one around and the Boston game was pretty sweet because "the big three" all came up big late.
Passos: The win against the Clippers was pretty encouraging, and there were some stretches of really good basketball from both teams. Regardless of how much the the Hack-a strategy bothers you, the numerous tactical questions surrounding it (how it affects pace, determines optimal lineups, etc.) add another element to the chess match between the two teams.
Gomez: Both wins against the Hawks were good but I'll take the second one. Great teams have no trouble putting away lesser competition and the Spurs have done that plenty of times this year. The Hawks, however, are actually good and the Spurs dismantled them with defense, by allowing 25 points in the first half. That was a terrific performance.
Jones: The Clippers revenge game. It certainly wasn't the best-played game of the year for the Silver and Black, but it was easily the most satisfying. (I really hate the Clips)
Wilco: I'm going with the home win over Los Angeles. Being there in the building as the Spurs won, despite going Hack-a-Jordan for huge stretches, was quite enjoyable.
4 - Which player will do better in 2016?
Erler: Danny Green, because there's only one direction for him to go.
Passos: I won't overthink this one. Danny Green.
Gomez: Danny Green is the obvious (and right) answer but I'll get greedy and go with LaMarcus Aldridge. He's been terrific on defense and his numbers are solid but I want him to be more decisive with the ball instead of turning down good shots. We all know he is an elite offensive player but he hasn't consistently looked like the player he was in Portland so far. Hopefully that changes as he gets more comfortable around his teammates.
Jones: Danny Green. Please for the love of Pop let me be right about this one! Danny needs an extended Hot stretch for the Spurs to reach their peak offensive efficiency. Which is a kind of ridiculous thing to think about since they're sporting a 3rd-best OffRtg of 106.8 on the year.
Wilco: It's Green. He's performed too well for too long to not eventually return to his career averages. This will end up being a down year for him statistically, but I still expect him to eventually post a month at something approaching his career averages. It's more a question of when, not if.
5 - Did you expect Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili to still be playing at a high level in 2016?
Erler: There have been signs of slippage from Duncan and Ginobili but with proper rest and minutes rations they should both still be effective for the rest of the season. What's clear is that the Spurs can only go as far as Leonard and Aldridge take them. Duncan and Ginobili can be good, perhaps very good at times, but they cannot be expected or counted on to be great except for an odd game every now and then. Parker has to be a bit more consistent than that, but he too has shown he can provide a burst here and there but is mostly a supporting player.
Passos: No. Duncan's play isn't so surprising given how he's trended over the past five years or whatever, but Manu and Tony have both been more spry and efficient than I think anyone could've expected of them. Tony is playing very well off of LaMarcus Aldridge, while the Manu-Boris-Patty three-headed monster has been one of the most entertaining trios in the NBA.
Gomez: No, not at all. Duncan looked done for a while back in 2011, Ginobili had been inconsistent for a couple of seasons and while I wasn't as down on Parker as others, it was impossible not to worry about his level and injury problem in the past couple of years. The fact that all three have been playing at this level is one of the biggest reasons why this season feels special to me.
Jones: After last season, I'd only have expected Duncan to still be playing at this level. I'm not sure whether I'm more surprised at how spry Tony has looked or how effective Manu has been. Spurs fans are incredibly fortunate to have the Big Three all operating at this level of efficiency this late in their careers.
Wilco: It's 2016 already! How that be right? That means PtR has turned 10 years old. I need to get to work on a site-wide retrospective.