Monday, October 26, 2015

2015-16 Season Preview: San Antonio Spurs

SAN ANTONIO SPURS
[] 55-27
[] Offensive Rating: 109.3 (7th)
[] Defensive Rating: 102.6 (2nd)
[] Net Rating: +6.7 (3rd)
[] Eliminated in 1st round of NBA playoffs
[] Coach: Gregg Popovich

If the Spurs lived in your neighborhood, they would have the nicest house, the most expensive cars, the most attractive spouse, and the kids that speak five languages at an age where yours can't quite figure out how to use the bathroom yet.  That's because dad is a quiet, but effective, sociopath hellbent on creating a machine that functions with no mistakes.  Their oldest son has two doctorates from Harvard, or Yale or something, a high-level job with a Fortune 500 company and yet the humility to make sure he's just impossible to hate.  Their youngest son is the star athlete at your local high school.  He's quiet and humble too, when he's not off winning awards and championships and stuff.  This year, the big news is that they adopted another son!  Surprise, he's also super talented and good at things you're not and he's just going to make this family so much harder to like, but also so much harder to beat.  He hasn't quite had the taste of victory that this family knows inside and out just yet.  He'll get it soon though, because the rich will always get richer, and I'll be damned if adding LaMarcus Aldridge to the Spurs doesn't end with every house on the block somehow being deeded to the Spurs.
Projected Starting Five

PG: Tony Parker - 6'2, 185 - 15th NBA season
GP
PPG
PER
USG%
TS%
3P%
3PAr
FT%
FTr
AST%
TOV%
68
14.4
15.9
24.5%
53.9%
42.7%
.107
78.3%
.200
28.7%
13.9%

Parker took a bit of a step back last year, following three straight 2nd team All-NBA selections with a season that was good, but not great.  His True Shooting Percentage and Assist Rates dropped and his Turnover Rate ticked up.  On the bright side, Parker had a career year from behind the three point line.  One down year isn't reason to write off one of the better PGs from the last decade, one who has four All-NBA selections and a Finals MVP to his name.  His All-NBA days are probably behind him at age 33, but I bet we see Parker bounce back in most categories this year.

SG: Danny Green - 6'6, 210 - 7th NBA season
GP
PPG
PER
USG%
TS%
3P%
3PAr
FT%
FTr
AST%
TOV%
81
11.7
16.5
17.5%
59.6%
41.8%
.619
87.4%
.172
10.3%
10.5%

Many, myself included, thought Green would take more money to sign somewhere other than San Antonio this offseason.  Instead, he signed the same four year, $40M deal that Iman Shumpert.  Needless to say, Green left some money on the table to sign with the team that helped him become one of the league's better two-way players and an NBA champion.  I went into why I think Green is great here, if you want to know why I was crushed when it turned out the Pistons had no chance at getting the pretty girl from a good family to dance with them.

SF: Kawhi Leonard - 6'7, 225 - 5th NBA season
GP
PPG
PER
USG%
TS%
3P%
3PAr
FT%
FTr
AST%
TOV%
64
16.5
22.0
23.0%
56.7%
34.9%
.234
80.2%
.307
13.0%
9.4%

Speaking of the league's better two way players, here's Kawhi Leonard, just 24 years old, a budding offensive force and an established defensive presence.  Leonard, the 2014-15 Defensive Player of the Year, has seen his role within the Spurs' offense grow over the last three years.  We're now to the point where Leonard has the third-highest Usage Rate on the team, one that outpaced that of first ballot Hall of Famer Tim Duncan.  Don't be shocked if Leonard is the second most used Spur this season, and to see him approach somewhere near 20 PPG.  He'll be that good soon, if not this year.

PF: LaMarcus Aldridge - 7'0, 240 - 10th NBA season
GP
PPG
PER
USG%
TS%
3P%
3PAr
FT%
FTr
TRB%
AST%
71
23.4
22.8
30.2%
52.8%
35.2%
.074
84.5%
.256
15.5%
9.2%

The rich get richer, as the Spurs will pair Aldridge with the best player of his generation in the frontcourt.  Aldridge will likely see a slightly lighter Usage Rate this season in exchange for better efficiency.  He'll still put up more than 20 PPG and continue to command the respect of every defense in the league from the area around the rim to 20+ feet.  Aldridge turned 30 this summer, and we should see two or three more great years from him, which will make the Spurs utterly terrifying.

C: Tim Duncan - 6'11, 250 - 19th NBA season
GP
PPG
PER
USG%
TS%
FT%
FTr
TRB%
ORB%
DRB%
BLK/36
77
13.9
22.6
22.2%
56.0%
74.0%
.380
17.9%
8.8%
26.7%
2.4

The aforementioned first ballot Hall of Famer/best player of his generation is still really good, even at age 39.  Last year's Usage Rate was the lowest of his career, but he put up a TS% that was above his career average, was an effective rebounder and maintained his presence as a shot blocker.  Duncan obviously isn't Prime Duncan anymore, but he's still Damn Good Duncan.

Bench

PG: Ray McCallum - 6'3, 190 - 3rd NBA season
GP
PPG
PER
USG%
TS%
3P%
3PAr
FT%
FTr
AST%
TOV%
68
7.4
12.5
18.2%
49.6%
30.6%
.236
67.9%
.179
21.3%
14.4%

The Spurs got McCallum from the Kings for a future 2nd rounder over the summer, which means he'll be in the running for Sixth Man of the Year until he takes over for Tony Parker and makes a couple All-NBA teams before winning Finals MVP, or something.  Or, he'll prove to be a capable backup who splits the reserve PG minutes with Patty Mills.  One of the two.

G: Patty Mills - 6'0, 185 - 7th NBA season
GP
PPG
PER
USG%
TS%
3P%
3PAr
FT%
FTr
AST%
TOV%
51
6.9
13.0
22.1%
49.6%
34.1%
.542
82.5%
.119
16.9%
9.0%

Mills' outside shooting took a pretty big dip last season, which caused his overall value to do the same.  He's never been much of a playmaker and his defense is nothing special, so if he's going to prove reliable, he'll need to shoot closer to his career average (39.1%).  Odds are that Mills is the same frustrating marksman the Spurs always employ, which he's been in three of his four years with the team.

G: Jimmer Fredette - 6'2, 195 - 5th NBA season
GP
PPG
PER
USG%
TS%
3P%
3PAr
FT%
FTr
AST%
TOV%
50
15.2
13.5
19.8%
58.2%
39.8%
.228
75.0%
.364
15.6%
18.0%

Fredette should find himself in a battle for a roster spot with 26-year old rookie Jonathan Simmons for a roster spot, if that tells you anything about how well things are going for the 2011 lottery pick.  His skillset fits what the Spurs are looking for at one end of the floor, but I'm not sure he plays enough defense to beat out Simmons.

G: Jonathan Simmons - 6'6, 195 - Rookie (2014-15 D-League stats)
GP
PPG
PER
USG%
TS%
3P%
3PAr
FT%
FTr
AST%
TOV%
50
15.2
13.5
19.8%
58.2%
39.8%
.228
75.0%
.364
15.6%
18.0%

As mentioned above, Simmons should battle Fredette for the final roster spot in the backcourt.  Simmons has the size advantage, where it seems like Fredette has the overall talent advantage.  I've never seen Simmons play outside of limited summer league action, but his D-League numbers look nice.

SG: Manu Ginobili - 6'5, 195 - 14th NBA season
GP
PPG
PER
USG%
TS%
3P%
3PAr
FT%
FTr
AST%
TOV%
70
10.5
16.2
23.9%
54.4%
34.5%
.438
72.1%
.346
28.6%
18.5%

At 38 years old, any season could be Ginobili's last, but he's still a very productive offensive player.  He's not quite the outside shooter he used to be, but he still gets to the FT line at a reliable rate, and his playmaking is all you can ask for out of your backup SG.

SF: Kyle Anderson - 6'9, 230 - 2nd NBA season
GP
PPG
PER
USG%
TS%
3P%
3PAr
FT%
FTr
AST%
TOV%
33
2.2
8.2
13.4%
38.9%
27.3%
.124
64.3%
.157
10.9%
9.5%

Anderson played three times more minutes in the D-League than he did in the NBA last season.  This season he should assume the mantle of backup SF if he can be steady from beyond the arc and give the Spurs' bench unit some secondary playmaking.

PF: Boris Diaw - 6'8, 245 - 13th NBA season
GP
PPG
PER
USG%
TS%
3P%
3PAr
FT%
FTr
TRB%
AST%
81
8.7
12.7
18.3%
52.6%
32.0%
.267
77.4%
.147
10.0%
17.9%

Diaw's minutes could get a challenge from David West this season, but he should still have a role with this team.  If his three point shooting bounces back closer to his 34% career rate, he'll be back in business.  Diaw could see some minutes at the C spot if Marjanovic doesn't pan out.

PF: David West - 6'9, 240 - 13th NBA season
GP
PPG
PER
USG%
TS%
FT%
FTr
TRB%
ORB%
DRB%
BLK/36
66
11.7
16.0
21.0%
50.8%
73.9%
.235
13.1%
6.4%
19.7%
0.9

West should bring an interesting element to the PF spot behind LaMarcus Aldridge.  He's not quite the stretch four the Spurs have chosen to employ, but he does have range out to about 20 feet, and he's overall more talented than Diaw.  I'm choosing not to overthink this, and I'll just say that West is an upgrade to the Spurs bench and leave it at that.

C: Boban Marjanovic - 7'3, 280 - Rookie (2014-15 Euroleague stats)
GP
PPG
PER
USG%
TS%
FT%
FTr
TRB%
ORB%
DRB%
BLK/36
76
13.1
28.0
23.6
65.9%
79.4%
.509
23.4%
14.5%
31.5%
0.9

Large, in charge.

Outlook

The sun rises in the east, and the Spurs set on the West.  At some point, the Spurs are just going to have to go through a rebuilding period.  That point is nowhere near now.  Aldridge should help take any pressure off of the other pieces of the offense, with out affecting one of the best defensive teams in the league.  Kawhi Leonard will continue to strangle teams on and off the ball, and it's just going to be another iteration of Gregg Popovich's demonstration that there isn't a better coach in basketball.  Popovich knows better than to to all out in search of ultimately meaningless regular season wins, so I could regret this, but I'll put the Spurs at 56 wins.  If they were going to play their starters in every game where they were healthy, and attempt to hit the ceiling, I'd say this team is right there with the Warriors in the win column at the end of the year.  They're just that good, unsurprisingly.

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