5 Bold Predictions for the San Antonio Spurs in 2013
With a 25-8 record, the Spurs have established them as one of the league's best teams, although there is still room for improvement.
Despite their consistent winning, the Spurs are anything but predictable, and have never been afraid to switch things up a bit.
With the new year ahead, the Spurs have plenty of time to make some major changes, or—continue on the path they are on.
Tony Parker Makes All-Star Team, Not All-NBA Team
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Tony Parker was one of the best players in the league last year, finishing in the top five in MVP voting, while leading San Antonio into the postseason.
For his efforts, the French guard was awarded an All-Star appearance in Orlando as a reserve guard, and by the season's end he was selected to the All-NBA second team.
This year, the superstar point guard has continued his excellent play, although his status as an All-Star remains in question. His chances of being selected to an All-NBA team are slim.
Though he may deserve it, increased competition in the Western guard pool—i.e. James Harden, O.J. Mayo and Jeremy Li—in addition to the "sidekick" role he has assumed in light of Tim Duncan's resurgence—making the All-Star team isn't a guarantee.
Assuming coaches do not pick him to be a reserve, three more guards sit above Parker in terms of voting—Harden, Russell Westbrook and Steve Nash.
The first two are shoe-ins, but Nash's injury may force coaches to look past him, allowing Parker to jump on as the team's fifth guard.
As for his odds making an end-of-the-year All-NBA team, the competition is increased, and with only six guard spots to cover both conferences, Parker will not claim the accolade.
The Spurs Make a Trade
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For most teams, making trades is frequent and very much expected. In San Antonio, however, such roster changes are rare.
Last year's acquisition of Stephen Jackson caught many off-guard, for numerous reasons.
The first, being the most obvious: there was no previous talk of any transaction, and the deal seemed to be very "on-the-spot."
The second involves the Spurs' front office distaste when it comes to making big transactions, as they usually elect to leave the roster in tact.
This year, however, the Spurs may be in store for another deal. The DeJuan Blair roller-coaster continues its descent, as the once starter has become a wasted commodity on the bench.
Though his trade value is low, a potential deal may be looming should a team inquire about the unused big man.
Gary Neal, though used plenty, is a valuable trade piece, whose production can be replaced if the Spurs were to send him elsewhere.
They desperately need height, and with a surplus of rising guards, Neal is not as valuable to them as he may seem.
For a second year in a row, the Spurs may pull through at the trade deadline with news that may not be so shocking.
Stephen Jackson Is Not Re-Signed, Unless He Takes a Major Pay Cut
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Stephen Jackson made his return to San Antonio last season after a nine year hiatus, and was immediately welcomed with open arms.
The sharp-shooting, defensive-minded veteran made a quick impact on the team, picking up right where he left off.
As the team's bright light of hope during their Western Conference Finals struggles last year, few Spurs fans can deny their attachment to Jackson.
Despite the value and energy he has brought to the team, Jackson's future in the NBA may lie elsewhere.
He currently holds the third highest contract on the team, and if the Spurs begin rebuilding following the season's end—they may not give him anywhere near his previous deal.
With Kawhi Leonard emerging as a potential stud, Jackson is more of a privilege than a necessity, and a big-man may be the team's primary concern this offseason.
If Jackson does wish to remain on the roster, he'll have to take a major pay-cut, which may not be too outlandish, considering how much he enjoys playing for the Spurs.
Still, he understands that before anything—basketball is a business, and if he takes the biggest contract he's offered, it will not be from the Spurs.
Spurs Finish First in the Western Conference
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As a result of their constant regular season dominance, the Spurs have developed a knack for sitting atop the Western Conference when the postseason rolls around.
Both last year and the year before, they garnered the West's best record, receiving the top seed in their side of the playoff bracket.
This year, however, finishing the regular season is a similar fashion may not be simple. The Oklahoma City Thunder continue to grow and mature as a team, and the defending Western Conference champions remain a major threat.
In addition to the Thunder, the Los Angeles Clippers have emerged as contenders, with flawless play and a strong win-streak.
Even the Los Angeles Lakers, despite poor play thus far, have the talent to make a second-half comeback and challenge the Spurs for that top seed.
Still, while the Thunder and Clippers may fight them for it, the Spurs remain a top team in the West, and with such strong play thus far—in addition to a very impressive track-record, the Spurs should finish atop their conference again.
Spurs Lose in Western Conference Finals
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If the Spurs do finish with the best record in the West, they should have a fairly easy route to the Western Conference Finals.
Assuming their two biggest threats come in second and third, one would have to knock the other out before either reach San Antonio.
The Spurs may have developed a reputation for a being an incredible regular season team, but they showed last year that their playoff incompetence of 2011 was a fluke.
Despite folding in the Western Conference, the Spurs swept both the Utah Jazz and the Los Angeles Clippers in the first two rounds of the postseason, and won the first two against the Thunder before falling apart.
Similarly, the Spurs should find their way through the initial stages fairly easily before advancing to the conference championship.
The West's two biggest threats to the Spurs' title hopes are the reigning WCF champs, the Thunder and the Clippers who have beaten the Spurs twice this season, already.
Though the Spurs remain contenders, and this outcome is anything but guaranteed, the Spurs may once again fail to reach the Finals after losing their conference Final's matchup.
You can guarantee, however, that they will put up a better fight than they did last year.