How the San Antonio Spurs Can Best Utilize Each Young Stud in 2012-13
The San Antonio Spurs are often criticized for being one of the league's oldest teams, and with Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili leading the attack, "old" may seem like the perfect label.
However, those that know the team, know that beyond those two aging veterans, the rest of the team is comprised of young, developing talent.
While these younger players are still in the developmental stages in their careers, many will one day be relied on to lead a future San Antonio team.
Here's a preview of how each player under the age of 26 will be used in the upcoming season.
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James Anderson has spent his NBA career in San Antonio riding the bench, and in 2012-13, he will find himself doing precisely that.
While he has his fair share of talent, a team as deep as the Spurs don't have much use for a one-dimensional, shooter with little loyalty to the organization.
With Manu Ginobili, Danny Green, Gary Neal and the new addition of French guard, Nando De Colo, there just isn't enough time in a single game to give Anderson a decent share of playing time.
Expect Anderson to spend the 2012-13 season on the sidelines, sans a few rare garbage-time appearances.
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DeJuan Blair is an interesting player, and had a very confusing season last year. He began the 2011-12 campaign as the Spurs' starting center, only to find himself with no playing time by the time June came around.
Blair is an absolute workhorse, whose high level of aggressiveness allows him to stay "big" despite his disadvantage in terms of height.
With size being the Spurs' biggest issue, it would be very wise for San Antonio to give Blair decent minutes. While his 6'7'' frame is a liability, outside of Tim Duncan, not many other San Antonio big man are as tough as Blair.
However, his spot on the roster is far from guaranteed, as the Spurs have placed the Pittsburgh product on the trade block.
Still, if he manages to survive the summer without being traded, the Spurs should consider giving Blair playing time if they are ever in need of strength and toughness.
Nando De Colo
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French combo-guard, Nando de Colo was the team's lone addition this summer, as the Spurs dipped into their overseas pool of talent in order to snatch a potential star.
However, while it is unlikely that their intentions would involve Colo spending much of the season on the bench, it seems very likely that the French guard's playing time is limited in his rookie season.
His play in the Olympics was far from perfect, and on a team with such a deep stash of talent at the guard talent, there is little opportunity for him to showcase his talent.
Until he becomes more developed and comfortable to this different style of play, Colo will have his role with the squad be merely as a bench warmer, with the slight potential to be a role player.
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While the rest of the league was drooling over Linsanity, a different rags-to-riches caught the eye of the San Antonio fans.
Danny Green's career seemed to be going nowhere, as the young guard was cut by Cleveland only to barely make his way onto a professional roster in the following season.
Lucky for him, he ended up in San Antonio and Gregg Popovich gave him a shot. Needless to say, Green took the opportunity and ran with it, and by the end of the season, he found himself starting for one of the league's most elite teams.
Green's versatile style of play allowed the Spurs to utilize their aging star, Manu Ginobili in a way that once worked miracles for the organization—as a sixth man.
After being re-signed for the 2012-13 campaign, the Spurs should once again name Green their starter, letting Ginobili lead the second unit.
This young, role player is still in the developing stages of his career, but should be trusted fully with the starting role, and should be given an ample amount of playing time.
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Cory Joseph left college prematurely, and the Spurs spent the last season watching him develop in the D-League. However, after a season with the Austin Toros, it appears that Joseph's time in the NBDL is over.
Joseph performed well during the Summer League in Las Vegas, earning himself a spot as an All Star.
It is clear that he improved and may spend the upcoming season on a set roster, unlike the previous which he spent being called down and up multiple times.
Still, he is far from being the team's best guard option, so their use of him will be very slim. While it is tough to guarantee a low-profile player like that any minutes, Pop should do his best to allocate just a few minutes to give the young guard a chance to prove his worth.
Joseph is still a young, raw talent, with the potential to develop into a true player. However, on a team with so many guards, it is unlikely that he will make too big of a splash at this stage of his career.
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Kawhi Leonard caught the league by storm last year, finishing the season as one of the NBA's most productive rookies. He also impressed his own team, as coach, Gregg Popovich gave the young forward the starting job midway through the season.
After such a successful rookie season, it is clear that Leonard is the team's future centerpiece, and they should continue to gradually make him a more focal member of the offense.
Coach Pop has already given Leonard the keys to the defense, as he normally guards the opposition's strongest swing-man. On offense, Leonard exceeded expectations, averaging a nice 37% from beyond the arc.
This season, the team should trust Leonard with the ball more and more, giving him the opportunity to become a comfortable offensive a player, as well as a defensive stud.
Don't expect too much of a role change for the Leonard, as he has already blossomed into a potential All-Star.
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Patty Mills was brought onto the roster as the backup point guard following the retirement of TJ Ford. With so many options at the guard position, he saw very little time, and barely got into the game during the postseason.
However, during the final two games of the season in which Popovich rested his starters, Mills exploded for 27 and 34 points.
He backed up this outburst in London where he led all Olympic competitors in points per game. Granted he was Australia's only option, but outscoring all opponents is a mighty feat, nonetheless.
After such a fantastic summer, it is likely that Mills we see an increased role next season, as he very well deserves extra playing time.
While it will certainly be limited, the Australian guard should see consistent minutes throughout the season, as he has already proved that he can hold his own against some of the league's best guards.