By: Travis Thayer
2012-13 Record: 58-24
Projected 2013-14 Finish: 1st in the Southwest
Projected Starting Lineup
Every team in the Southwest Division has improved this offseason, but the Spurs will still reign supreme. The Spurs have a bad taste in their mouths after they were seconds away from capturing their fifth NBA Championship of the “Tim Duncan Era”. Greg Popovich’s team is primed for one more deep playoff run with their own version of the “Big 3”. That “Big 3” might need to start being called the “Big 4” after the emergence of Kawhi Leonard in last year’s Finals. Leonard’s performance in the Playoffs has to have San Antonio fans excited because of the energy and youth he brings to an aging team. Leonard is the complete package. He can score, rebound, and defend with anybody at his position. He had a breakout season a year ago, but let’s not forget about what Danny Green did. Green only had the best three-point shooting NBA Finals of all-time. Green hit 25 of 38 three-point shots, and broke the previous record held by counter-part Ray Allen. Green isn’t going to have a seven-game stretch like that this year, but his three-point ability is going to be a big part of San Antonio’s offense. Leonard and Green bring some youth that the Spurs desperately need, but it’s still the old guys who keep this team churning forward. Any time you have a top-ten all-time player in Tim Duncan, you are going to have a chance to win. I could talk all day about how good Tim Duncan is, and how he has MVP’s and four NBA Championships. His resume speaks for itself, and he is hungry for one more title, which is why I’m picking the Spurs to win their division – and to contend for another championship.
The Spurs championship run, much like last year will depend on the health and play of Manu Ginobili. Ginobili has shown in the past that he can close ballgames in the fourth quarter, but that was something he wasn’t able to do against the Heat in June. Pop does a great job of resting his players during the regular season, and I expect Ginobili to be as fresh as he can be come playoff time. Ginobili will have to be better this year than he was in the Finals, but he should take comfort in having other capable players around him. I already mentioned how much Green and Leonard have improved, but Tony Parker is the man in San Antonio. Tony Parker has blossomed into one of the premiere point guards in the NBA, and it’s clear that he is the Spurs go-to-guy. Parker has the ability to take over games much like Ginobili does, but Parker has been a little more consistent in recent years. Basically, what is being said is that the Spurs have all the ingredients to win another championship. You can never count out the Spurs because of their winning pedigree. They have an all-time great coach and some of the best players to ever play the game. When you add that equation together, you get success – and the Spurs are in for another successful season, but can they get back to the mountain top? I think they will come up a bit short again, but as I’ve said before – you can never count out the Spurs.