Tis the season. And the Spurs have been oh so good this season. After taking to the hardwood since October without their two former NBA Finals MVPs, both Kawhi Leonard and Tony Parker have been playing with minutes restrictions.
Since rejoining the squad on the court, Tony Parker has returned to pre-injury form surpassing all expectations on recovery. In many ways, he’s playing better than he did last year.
In the interim before Parker and Leonard’s respective returns, LaMarcus Aldridge emerged at the Spurs top scorer while seamlessly shifting between power forward and small-ball center.
So what do the Spurs have on their wish list this holiday season?
A starting line-up featuring last year’s Kawhi Leonard and this year’s LaMarcus Aldridge! Can you imagine 2017s Kawhi contending for a third Defensive Player of the Year acknowledgement while continually making offensive strides paired with this LMA?
And that is the biggest question looming over the Spurs right now. How exactly will Kawhi integrate into a team that’s doing well while being led by LaMarcus?
In the best of both worlds, LaMarcus does not see the ball any less, maintaining his efficiency whether he creates his own shot in the low post or he kicks in the occasional 3 off the assist. Having a sharp-shooter of Leonard’s caliber on the perimeter means doubling Aldridge is not as simple a decision as it may have been during the first third of the season.
And as the entirety of the NBA knows, a full-throttle Kawhi Leonard is virtually unstoppable.
In each and every season, Leonard has made vast improvements to his game. He is his own barometer, choosing to spend his off-season time creating new facets to his already stunning play. Last year’s Kawhi took more initiative on the offensive end without a significant ding on the defensive side. After two back-to-back DPOY awards he came in third in balloting last season. His offensive chops also supported him coming in 3rd in voting as NBA’s Most Valuable Player. Combine those two and the argument was made throughout the NBA that Kawhi Leonard was the front runner for this year’s MVP. While that award may not see its way onto his shelf as a simple result of time on the court, any semblance of last year’s Kawhi will be a menace at both ends of the court.
Grouping those two at their respective peaks alongside a Danny Green who has stepped up admirably since the season began, along with the aforementioned Parker and we just might be on the verge of The Beautiful Game Version 2. With Pau Gasol subbing out for Kyle Anderson (a contender for Most Improved) and/or Rudy Gay (a 6th Man option), the Spurs could do what they always do — avoid headlines and expectations while silently pacing themselves to once again surprise those daring enough to bet against San Antonio 20 years into The System.
I know some out there just want their two front teeth. All I want for Christmas are these two front court All-Stars to do what few beyond Loop 1604 expect to them to do: combine and conquer.
What do you want Santa to bring your Spurs for Christmas? Hang your comment by the chimney with care or add your our conversation to Santa’s list. Make sure to leave milk and cookies on the mantle (or vintage vino and a hearty post-game meal like we do because we celebrate the real bearded man in our house).
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