So many unknowns make predicting the Spurs season foggy

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Maybe I jumped the gun. Okay, I definitely jumped the gun. While I stand by what I wrote a couple weeks ago, I’ll concede that it’s impossible to say for certain.

With this season’s San Antonio Spurs, there are so many unknowns that making any projections is akin to throwing darts blindfolded. Sure, you may hit a bullseye, but was it skill or luck?

Tim Duncan is completely healthy (as much as he can be for 34-years-old with a bad knee). Manu Ginobili is completely healthy. As is Tony Parker. All three are fully rested. We’ve been unable to say all that confidently for at least two seasons.

Adding Tiago Splitter to DeJuan Blair, Matt Bonner and Antonio McDyess gives Tim Duncan what looks like — on paper, at least — the Spurs’ most talented big man rotation in Duncan’s career. You know, other than not having a shot blocker.

The X-factor — and I hate that term but I feel like it fits — is how effective Richard Jefferson will be after his first season with the Spurs.

“Richard’s back in his second year. And usually with us, people in their second year play a lot better, more acclimated to what we do,” Tim Duncan said.

RJ in his second year doesn’t guarantee an improvement, but everyone is definitely expecting one.

Like Jefferson, the Spurs don’t know what they’ll get with rookie James Anderson. Nursing a hamstring injury all summer, Anderson just recently got back on the court. But he hasn’t played long enough for the coaching staff to know what to expect this season; training camp is the team’s first significant look at Anderson.

With Tiago Splitter, the team has a better picture.

“People speak highly of him. Manu’s seen him more up close than I have, and he’s excited about him too,” Duncan said. “It’s not his first rodeo, so he’s got some experience under his belt.”

“He’ll have a lot to learn with our system, but all in all, I think we’re gonna let him bring what he can to the table and let him learn along the way.”

Adding it all up still gives you an incomplete answer. Training camp will fill a few more holes in the equation, as will preseason. No matter the questions, the Spurs are still optimistic.

“With Tiago, and we got a great draft pick [Anderson], DB in his second year,” Duncan said. “So with all those things, I think point to a very good year for us.”

  • http://www.bpifanconnect.com Alix Babaie

    GO SPURS GO, Win One For The Thumb!

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  • BankShot21

    As a die hard Spurs fan I truly don’t understand all of this “end of Duncan era” crap. What this man did in the 1st half of last season was short of a miracle. At the age of 33 he carried his team with averages of 20 and 11. He posted a career high 27 rebounds and his PER was 2nd only to LeBron James before the All-Star break. Yes his numbers dipped to 17 and 10 but that’s in part to the resurgence of Manu and George Hill and an all time low in minutes played. Is he still the anchor of the defense? Yes. So what’s all this “he’s a step slower” talk?…Who isn’t a step slower at 33 (excluding Steve Nash)? Let’s stop being coerced into believing he (Duncan) is less relevant to our success now than he was in title years. GO SPURS GO!!!!

  • DaveMan77

    53 wins and a lock for the second round which means the Spurs got a shot.

  • alohaspur

    prognostication is always a dangerous game. but if i were to do it, i would shorten your analysis down to just three players–and it shouldn’t surprise anyone which three.

    the spurs’ 2009-10 season provided everyone with internet access ample opportunity for criticism. RJ’s entire game took a beating. bonner’s suspect defense was enemy #2. and then everything else from mcdyess’ inconsistency, the disappearance of mason’s 3-pt accuracy, and pop’s experimentation made headlines.

    few mentioned this: without consistent presence–let alone consistent play–from the big 3, how exactly were the other’s supposed to define & refine their roles?

    ***as an aside, ginobili made this exact point last season.

    make no mistake: i am excited about splitter & anderson as new additions. i am pumped about hill’s continued ascendency to the higher echelons of NBA talent. i am intrigued as to what DB, RJ, and McD produce in their second season with the silver & black.

    the bottom line is that TD, TP, and manu are called the big three for a reason.

  • Jim Henderson

    @Andrew

    “Maybe I jumped the gun. Okay, I definitely jumped the gun. While I stand by what I wrote a couple weeks ago, I’ll concede that it’s impossible to say for certain.”

    But you never said that anything was for “certain” in your post from a couple of weeks ago, and you’re right to “stand by what you wrote”. Without glee, but with clear-headed sincerity, you simply stated the obvious: The Spurs are very unlikely to have enough to get a title this year. There’s no reason to even give the impression that you’re backing off from that in any way shape or form. You didn’t “jump the gun”. You simply were not afraid to look and see how loaded it was compared to the rest of the competition.

    Nobody is saying that the Spurs have NO chance to win a title this year, and neither were you. After all, we’re not the T-Wolves, Warriors, Raptors, etc. Everyone understands that. The title of this current post talks about “unknowns”. While “unknowns” can be a two-edged sword (unexpected positives or negatives), in my view the top favored contenders should number one be very good, and number two have the least relatively “large” unknowns on their team. We have too many relatively large unknowns that could make or break our playoff chances. Thus, our odds of a title are not that high. On the other hand, the Lakers have a very good team AND comparatively fewer unknowns compared to the rest of the league. Hence, LA is the clear favorite in my view, and why Miami is more hype than true favorite (Vegas loves to take advantage of hype). I rank the Heat 4th, behind LA, Orlando & Boston, because the Heat have too many potentially critical “unknowns”.

  • http://48minutesofhell.com Andrew A. McNeill

    @Jim

    You’re right, but I was simply admitting that it was a tad early for me to say make predictions. I still feel that way, but there’s a lot of factors that make predicting this team unclear.

  • Miguel

    I’ll give the spurs a 56+ game win season, with a solid chance of eliminating the Lakers in a 7 game playoff series. No way is it over.

  • Badger

    Unknowns galore!! Perhaps that’s why I am more excited to see this whole thing shake out this year, after pretty much KNOWING all last season that we’d be lucky to get to the Lakers, let alone beat them.

    I keep coming back to the idea that Splitter will be the most important question mark. Let’s face it, barring injury (I know, that’s a large assumption, but go with me here…) Duncan, Manu, and Tony are a very, very solid core group that ANY coach, with the possible exception of Miami or LA, would LOVE to have. Add to the big 3 the expected (above average) contributions of George Hill, D. Blair, and, cross your fingers here, RJ.

    What is left to complete the puzzle? Well, the rookie might be good, but let’s not expect Anderson to win many games in his first season, rookies almost never do. Neal? Well, I am really pulling for this guy, and I fantasize about him being our Ben Gordon off the bench, as he was in Chicago. In case my fantasy doesn’t come true, I doubt I’ll do much fantasizing about Bonner. The best he’ll give us is mediocre defense and weak rebounding coupled with his demonstrated ability from long range.

    If this was the end of the puzzle, I’d say we get to the first round, maybe second. 50+ wins, all very respectable. But it’s not the end of the puzzle….There’s still this guy who was the European MVP last year. A guy who seems to have a high bb IQ, has pretty quick feet, and, as Tim said, “It’s not his first rodeo.”

    Splitter plays anywhere close to what Gasol (the thinner one) can do, and all of a sudden, the Spurs are right there in the hunt for the 5th ring. If Splitter underwhelms, we’re scratching our heads trying to figure out how we can possibly get to the Western Conference Championship.

  • http://whattheworlddoesnotneed.blogspot.com/ James

    I’m a NYC Spurs fans. Hard not to like Duncan, Manu, or Parker (loved Bowen for his defense). I’ve been paying attention to Spurs fans for awhile (ever since you beat my other team the Knicks for the championship). Anyway, I’m always surprised how nervous you dudes sound. Is Duncan too old? Should we trade Parker? Why can’t Jefferson have a decent first season? Does anyone understand Pop? Here is what you have: a trio of guys who have brought some trophies. Role players who hit the big shot. Players who keep any personal issues on the quiet. And an organization that for the msot part makes sound choices. If this is a problem for ya, I can think of a few Knick fans who would gladly trade places (do you even have a player who can’t get to camp in shape?…..LOL).
    All I’m saying is you guys have it good. Enjoy the ride. Or become a Knick fan. :-)

    Thanks for the site. I’m excited about this year’s Spurs.

    peace

  • http://www.48minutesofhell.com Lenneezz

    Let’s see…

    1. Will Blair have a game beyond the PnR?
    2. Will RJ play more consistently and confidently?
    3. Does Tiago gel with the team and make others better? (See point 2)
    4. Is Neal really that good of a shooter?
    5. Does Anderson contribute anything of note?
    6. Does the Big 3 stay healthy?
    7. Will Bonner ever make an important “3” in the playoffs?
    8. Who makes the rest of the team and how much do they contribute. Just remember how badly our 2nd unit got outplayed vs the Suns in the playoffs last year if there is any doubt to how important this is.

    Yeah, there are questions about this season.

  • ChillFAN

    Why do the SPuRS have a legitimate shot at the title?
    Because he’s Manu Ginobili.

  • Futureman

    For anyone who is interested Kirk Penney gave a fairly insightful interview into his experiences with the San Antonio Spurs training camp.

    The interview is from the website of his former team the New Zealand Breakers whom play in the NBL (National Basketball League) which includes teams from Australia and New Zealand.

    http://www.nbl.com.au/breakers-home/news/article/2010/october/interview-with-kirk-penney/

  • SpurDAWG50

    Why does everyone beat up on Bonner? I mean, sure, I’d love for him to hit a 3 when it means something in the playoffs…but everyone gets down on him for his defensive chops, or lack there of. Is he really that bad? We all know that he isn’t the best defender, but he hustles, he stays in front of people and yes may be a bit slow on the rotation but he isn’t THAT bad. Parker’s defense was continually suspect in long stretches but he decided to dig in after George Hill was outplaying him. I’m just saying…

  • http://48minutesofhell.com/2010/09/02/death-of-tradition anonymous

    To say what I think this time I will sumit up easy. I agree with the first and last guys to post,Spurgog50 and that bankshot21 at the top. but I liked chillfan, james and miguel’s, also.