Friday, August 21, 2009
Thursday, August 20, 2009
This is part five of a six part series reviewing the NBA offseason, taking an individual look at all the title contenders (Lakers, Magic, Cavaliers, Celtics and Spurs) and then the rest of the league as a whole. The first four parts examined the Lakers, Magic, Cavaliers and Celtics. Today, we examine the San Antonio Spurs.
The Spurs apparently got the message after seeing how the last two championships were won. The Lakers and Celtics took advantage of the lowly Grizzlies and Timberwolves respectively (though nothing is as egregious as the Pau Gasol for Kwame Brown trade. That deserves its own stratosphere of idiocy, the NBA’s version of the Randy Moss to New England trade) and rode their acquisitions (Gasol and Kevin Garnett) to the titles. Well the Spurs, being the A+ organization they are did not want the rest of the league to pass them by, so they found a lowly team (the Milwaukee Bucks) and picked up one of the underrated players in the NBA, Richard Jefferson.
This move signified the last hurrah, a final chance for the Duncan-era in San Antonio. Duncan is getting up there in age, 33, and probably has 2 maybe 3 years left as a top notch player. The Spurs apparently weren’t content with being a 5-seed for the last years of Duncan, not willing to have the rest of the league pass them by. With Duncan, Tony Parker and an uncertain Man Ginobili, they didn’t have enough fire power to compete with the Lakers or the big 3 of the Eastern Conference.
That magically changed before the draft when they were able to steal Richard Jefferson for 3 guys who played meaningless minutes last season (Bruce Bowen, Fabricio Oberto and Kurt Thomas). Jefferson is a guy who can really change the direction of the franchise. Though you may not have realized, considering he was in utter irrelevance in Milwaukee, Jefferson is a complete basketball player from the small forward position. He’s got tremendous athleticism, can create off the dribble, can shoot from the midrange and long range and is one of the better defenders in the league. He adds a lot of versatility to the lineup. He can run and finish the break with Tony Parker. He can spot up in the corner and drain a triple off a Duncan double team. He can create at the basket when the inevitable Ginobili injury comes down. He could have a Pau Gasol type impact on the Spurs. When Gasol went to the Lakers, he rejuvenated both the teams and himself. The environment really allowed Gasol to flourish and he stepped his game up just by the fact of playing for a team with a legitimate chance. Going from a deadzone like Milwaukee to an organization like San Antonio instantly makes you happier, and happy cows make great milk. Then getting to play with a great player makes you better, just look at Todd Pinkston’s numbers when he played with Terrell Owens in 2004. Everything about this move screams positive.
However, the Spurs still do have a hole a center. Matt Bonner is conceivably the worst defender in the league, not to mention he’s an Eddy Curry quality rebounder. You can play Duncan at center with draft pick Dejuan Blair at power forward, but Duncan has always been better suited at power forward. They need to pick up a defensive oriented guy who can rebound and block shots just to complete their team. They have a solid bench with George Hill, Ime Udoka, Michael Finley and Roger Mason. They are ready to make a run.
With the Duncan era closing in the near future, the Spurs made the decision to make a final run at the title. Picking up Jefferson gives them four prime-time players. With a good bench and only one hole at the center position, the Spurs are primed for a title run.