All Spurs fans should know what the ”Mid Three” refers to by now. For anyone who doesn’t, it’s the trio of LaMarcus Aldridge, Rudy Gay and DeMar DeRozan, but why they’re called that may depend on whom you ask. To some, it’s because they are the ultimate NBA trio of mid-range shooters, playing a throwback style of offense that seems out of place in today’s NBA but is effective and hard to defend nonetheless.
To others, that name might simply be a reference to three players who are very good, but not quite as much as the four-time championship-winning “Big Three” of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili. However, if there’s one thing they don’t want to be known as, it’s simple placeholders between the Big Three and hopefully another championship core that is yet to come. Instead, they plan on being that group.
The Mid Three may not be as special or as talented as their predecessors, but they are still star-caliber, hardworking, down-to-earth guys (what you might call “Spursy”) who want to continue the run of success their predecessors started in San Antonio, not just hold down the fort and keep the Spurs’ historical playoff streak alive until the next cavalry arrives.
The Spurs may be achieving their goal of staying competitive while growing internally — they’re off to a good start with promising young talent like Dejounte Murray, Derrick White and Lonnie Walker IV, not to mention Davis Bertans and Jakob Poeltl — but the Mid Three want to achieve more than that. They want to win now and leave their own legacy in San Antonio before passing the torch.
However, doing so is not as simple as 1-2-3. As Gay told San Antonio Express News’ Mike Finger (subscription required), they know they have what it takes to win, even if it will take some time and patience: things most Spurs fans aren’t use to having to exercise.
“Of course we’re trying to win now,” Gay said. “I mean, there are two big factors. One, we’re a new team. Two, this is not the East. You know what I’m saying? You don’t just get together and start beating everybody.
“So I’d love the storybook, where we’d get together and win millions of games right away, but it’s going to take time. We’re just building character right now, that’s all.”
There have been times this season when this current Spurs team have looked nearly unstoppable, and others when injury, difficult stretches of schedule, and other factors like simple chemistry-building have worked against them, making them look like the fringe playoff team the standings currently say they are.
Whether they can get it all together this season remains to be seen, but the Spurs have shown that when their main 9-man rotation is healthy, they can be very hard to beat. They have in fact beaten everyone above them in the Western standings at least once, and any seven-game series outside of Golden State feels like it would be highly competitive. They have shown that nothing is impossible if this team is clicking and healthy come playoff time, and Aldridge, Gay and DeRozan plan on doing more than just getting them there.
Even if everything doesn’t align right this season, there is always reason to expect improvement next season simply with the return of Murray and perhaps even a White-like second-year breakout from Walker. However, all these Spurs are currently worried about is right now, and whatever happens they aren’t giving up on themselves, so neither should we.