Expectations for San Antonio Spurs Key Players

Spencer KierCorrespondent IJanuary 3, 2012

Expectations for San Antonio Spurs Key Players

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    The Spurs have been arguably the most successful NBA franchise aside from the Los Angeles Lakers over the past 15 years. 

    They have been the epitome of consistency, as evidenced by their 15 straight 50 win seasons, with the exception of the ’98-’99 lockout season, although it still concluded with the Spurs hoisting the Larry O’Brien Trophy. 

    Whether or not this year’s team is poised for another title run, or on the brink of blowing up one of the original Big Three’s and rebuilding, is yet to be seen. What we can tell though, is that this team is aging quickly and their window is closing rapidly.

    At the very least, I expect them to be competitive and pose a challenging first round matchup for whomever they face. 

Kawhi Leonard

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    Leonard is currently averaging a shade under six points while also posting six rebounds in 18 minutes a game. Considering Spurs’ star guard Manu Ginobili is out indefinitely with a broken hand, Leonard should be seeing an increase in both minutes and expectations for the next few weeks, if not for the rest of the season. 

    The former Aztecs’ star averaged over 15 points and 10 rebounds a game last season en route to being named to the Second Team All-America by Fox Sports. 

    Leonard has shown a commitment to winning and an impressive work ethic throughout his years in Southern California. He is an extremely versatile guard who, despite making his mark primarily on the defensive end thus far in his career, is only a few moves away from having a complete (or at least effective) offensive arsenal. 

    You can expect Leonard’s stock to skyrocket and his game to continually evolve as the season progresses, especially given Manu Ginobli’s injury. I see no reason why Leonard can’t average over 11 points and seven rebounds a game by the season’s end.

James Anderson

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    Anderson is currently second to Ginobili on the depth chart, but he could be catapulted to the starting lineup as soon as Wednesday. 

    He has proven himself as an athletic and youthful two-guard, but a lot of weight will be cast on his shoulders in the following weeks and I’m interested in seeing how he responds. 

    His production has been minimal thus far, but not insignificant. He’s averaged about eight points and two rebounds in 25 minutes of action. 

    There’s no question as to whether or not his minutes will increase, but in order for the Spurs to continue to compete, he’ll have to somewhat mimic (to a lesser extent) the numbers of Ginobili. 

    With a projected increase in minutes to 30 a game, 12 points and four rebounds would satiate Pop’s need for an impactful shooting guard. 

Tiago Splitter

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    Splitter has logged the fourth most minutes for the Spurs this season, despite only putting up a little over six points and six rebounds. 

    He has shown signs of greatness over the past two seasons, but his play hasn’t been indicative of the typical, overachieving, late selections that the Spurs have become so accustomed to over the past decade plus. 

    He should be a substantial role player and compliment to Duncan and Blair, especially when the season begins to wear on the knees of the starting frontcourt. 

Richard Jefferson

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    Jefferson was an amnesty candidate at the beginning of the year, but the Spurs chose to hold on to him because of his cohesiveness and camaraderie with the rest of the Spurs’ core. 

    Although he isn’t worth the 10 million dollar-plus salary considering he is only putting up roughly 11 points and three rebounds a game, he is still an integral part of the game plan. 

    Jefferson will probably continue on that same path of 11 to 12 points a game along with three or four rebounds. Don’t expect him to have a breakout season, emulate his days in New Jersey or fill in significantly for Manu.

DeJuan Blair

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    Blair could win the Most Improved Player of the Year award this season when it’s all said and done. Despite being an undersized power forward, he exhibits a great combination of heart, will and intelligence. 

    He’s already off to his best season yet. He’s averaging over 16 points and seven rebounds a game, and, again, with the absence of Ginobili, will be forced to step his game up.   

    With Tim Duncan as Blair’s mentor and counterpart, he should be able to continue his impressive, on-court output. 

Tony Parker

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    Parker’s numbers are down from last season, but considering we are only four games into the season, there is no reason to be alarmed. 

    He is another player who will be expected to take on a significant amount of the offensive load and leadership responsibilities with the absence of Manu Ginobili. The former Finals’ MVP should have no problem doing so, unless age and injury become a factor. 

    With the prospective addition of minutes to his daily schedule, Parker should average about 17 points and six assists. 

Manu Ginobili

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    With news surfacing that the two-time all star is now “out indefinitely” with a broken hand, it seems that both Manu Ginobili and the Spurs’ seasons are in jeopardy. 

    Ginobili suffered the injury in the second quarter of the Spurs’ loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday night. 

    Manu’s presence and production will definitely be missed considering he is currently the Spurs leader in points, steals, and offensive efficiency.

    Regardless of when Ginobili comes back, he should have no problem returning to his pre-injury form and leading the Spurs to a playoff appearance. 

    Before I make any bold or outlandish predictions for the Argentinian stud, the question mark surrounding his health needs to be removed. 

Tim Duncan

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    Duncan has been the centerpiece of the Spurs’ game plan and franchise for the past decade plus. 

    The “Big Fundamental” has led the team to four championships through his unwavering commitment to the paint on both ends of the hardwood. 

    Although his numbers and production took a slight dip last season, his presence and leadership are still undoubtedly the foundation of the Spurs’ success. 

    I don’t see Timmy’s numbers taking a big hit from last season, but I don’t seem them improving either. 

    15.5 points, 11 rebounds and two blocks sound about right.

     

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