The Spurs kicked off 2017 with a somewhat unlucky loss to the Atlanta Hawks, but beyond that they have been pretty solid and have returned to the top five in both offensive and defensive ratings. What more can you ask for from a team that is working at least three newcomers into its main rotation after having lost its franchise cornerstone and defensive anchor?
Third-best seems about right for the Spurs right now as they continue to build an identity around team offense and solid defense. Although the Spurs seem to be scrutinized more for losses than their fellow contenders, what they do well remains under the radar, and that’s just how they like it.
Jon Schuhumann, NBA.com: 3 (last week: 3)
While the rest of the league has been getting offensive, the Spurs have held eight of their last 13 opponents under a point per possession, even doing it twice with Kawhi Leonard out last week. He returned on Sunday and hit the game-winner in Atlanta, except that it it spun out and the Spurs lost in overtime. Danny Green's effective field goal percentage dropped from 59.6 percent in 2014-15 to 49.2 percent last season, and now (after he's shot 27-for-51 from 3-point range over the last 10 games) it's at a career-high 64.7 percent, the league's fourth best mark among players who have taken at least 150 shots.
David Aldridge, NBA.com: 3 (last week: 1)
Tony Parker showing a little more oomph lately (18.3 points per game, .516 shooting over his last four games).
Marc Stein, ESPN: 4 (last week: 3)
Only four teams in the league currently rank in the top 10 in both offensive and defensive efficiency: Golden State, Milwaukee, Utah and (presumably to no one's surprise) San Antonio. The Spurs' 12-2 record in December wasn't bad, either. Since we don't grade nearly as hard as Gregg Popovich does, it's thus mostly kudos from the Committee, given that the Spurs have already won five games this season in which they've trailed by 13 points or more and were unbeaten when leading after three quarters until Sunday night's OT loss in Atlanta in which Kawhi Leonard was unfortunate to miss at both the regulation and OT buzzers.
Jeremy Woo, Sports Illustrated: 3 (last week: 4)
The Spurs went 12–2 in December and bested their November net rating by 8.8 points per possession. They were 11–4 in November. They’re…improving. They're...alive.
Matt Moore, CBS Sports: 4 (last week: 2)
The Spurs were No. 1 on Sunday morning, but the loss to the Hawks bumps them here. Overall, the Spurs have a lot of warning signs beneath the sterling record they're likely to maintain. This is a weird version of the Spurs, likely to finish with a top-three record and yet suspect for how they'll match up in the playoffs. They don't seem like the usual Spurs team... but then, doubting them also seems stupid.
Kurt Helin, NBC Sports: 3 (last week: 4)
They went 12-2 outscoring opponents by 8.8 points 100 possessions in December, and a lot of that is thanks to a defense that held teams to a point per possession in December (second best in the NBA in last month). The team also was undefeated in games where they led by 13 until Sunday, when Atlanta came back and won in OT (when a sick Kawhi Leonard couldn’t hit the game winner). Interesting tests this week against two of the better teams in the East, Toronto and Charlotte.