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Outside of Duncan, Ginobili and Parker, the Spurs' roster is fairly youthful, consisting of mostly first-, second- and third-year players.
With players like Kawhi Leonard, DeJuan Blair and Tiago Splitter on the rise, a leader in the frontcourt is vital to their development as players.
Duncan's leadership and knowledge of the game helped to bring out the best in players, as they could always look towards their captain for some advice.
With even more raw talent emerging from overseas, Duncan's leadership, if nothing else, is crucial for the Spurs' future development as a franchise.
Tiago Splitter, primarily, has the raw talent to be a great player, but his inconsistency in the playoffs showed his major weaknesses, giving fans a different view of the Brazilian center, who impressed everyone with his growth in the regular season.
If he wants to continue his play in the regular season and channel his talents away from the horror show witnessed against Oklahoma City, a mentor like Duncan is needed to keep Splitter focused.
The same can be said about Blair and especially Leonard, who is on the verge of becoming a future All-Star. Leaving the organization and abandoning his young teammates would not only effect their immediate future, but their development in the long run as well.