6 Holiday Wishes for the San Antonio Spurs
It surely isn't the most wonderful time of the year for every team—the New York Knicks have made that abundantly clear.
But in San Antonio, there's plenty to celebrate.
The San Antonio Spurs have started the season strong and haven't showed any indication of slowing down. But even a near-perfect squad has its obstacles to overcome and areas at which it will need to improve.
During this holiday season, don't hesitate to add a few more wishes to your list, with the hopes that the Spurs' success remains consistent and lasting.
A Quick Recovery for Tony Parker and an Injury-Free 2014
If there was one obstacle that could thoroughly destroy the Spurs' title hopes, it would be a long-term injury to Tony Parker.
Parker holds the team's fate in his hands, and any setback for the superstar point guard might spell doom for the entire franchise.
That's why the entire Spurs organization held its collective breath when Parker went down on Wednesday night against the Los Angeles Clippers.
Luckily, the injury was discovered to be a simple shin bruise and not something more severe in nature, a la Derrick Rose. The Spurs have confirmed that Parker will miss at least two games, and while any time off is less than ideal, it's comforting to know that it is not anything too serious.
That said, it wouldn't hurt to cross your fingers for both Parker's return and to hope that the Spurs avoid any future injuries that might hinder their prosperity.
San Antonio is predicated on team chemistry, and a single block plucked from its delicate structure could collapse the entire arrangement.
Good health isn't the desire of only the Spurs. That should headline every fan's wish list this holiday season.
Consistent Play from Manu Ginobili
You know how little kids always make that one far-fetched holiday request that is virtually impossible to grant?
Well, here's the Spurs' version of that pipe dream which seemingly reemerges on fans' wish lists every year.
I wish—and I'd be remiss to declare that I stand alone—that for once in his career, Manu Ginobili adds a level of consistency to his erratic style of play.
Too unreasonable? It's been painful to watch Ginobili at times, but at other times, it has been a complete joy. It all depends on which Ginobili shows up. The two-time All-Star will either be ridiculed or praised by NBA pundits everywhere.
His play in last year's NBA Finals has remained a source of jest, though he has responded with a slew of throwback performances in 2013-14.
Ideally for the Spurs, the element of mystery regarding which Ginobili will show up for any given game will be put to rest, and a consistently beneficial version of the sixth man will become the norm for San Antonio.
Timeless Play from Tim Duncan
The Hanukkah story describes a miracle of light, in which a one-night supply of oil lasted eight nights before burning out.
In Tim Duncan's case, the oil was supposed to run out a long, long time ago.
Fortunately for the Spurs, it hasn't.
Duncan has seemingly unearthed the secret to defying age, as his resurgent 2012-13 campaign suggested. This season, he struggled out of the gate, but the 37-year-old has recently found his footing and seems poised for another vintage season.
Of course, expecting a 37-year-old to continuously produce like a 25-year-old is nearly as ludicrous as expecting Ginobili to be consistent, but unlike the latter example, Duncan has proven that the impossible is, in fact, possible.
As the season carries on and the legendary power forward adds another year to his age, Spurs fans and NBA fans alike should hope that Duncan's oil lasts a few more years.
The Continued Development of Kawhi Leonard
Perhaps the most frustrating aspect of the first quarter of this season for the Spurs has been the offensive struggles of Kawhi Leonard.
Entering the season, the third-year swingman was predicted to follow in Paul George's footsteps, as he inched upon the brink of stardom.
Defensively, Leonard has been as good as advertised—if not better. But that was never really a question for the forward, whose defensive prowess is innate.
Rather, the aspect of his game under scrutiny is at the offensive end. Despite emerging as a top-notch perimeter shooter—he connected on 37.5 percent of his long-range attempts in his first two seasons—Leonard has become inefficient from beyond the arc. Defenses are beginning to cheat off of him, and he has lost a bit of confidence in his three-point shooting ability.
While success this season is of prime importance for Leonard, it is also important to look toward the future. With Leonard holding the fate of his team in the palms of his incredibly large hands, it is essential that he regains his shooting aptitude and continues to improve his offensive repertoire.
Although he can attack and finish well, Leonard needs to increase his shooting efficiency and scoring totals in order to ensure that he makes the leap that Spurs fans so fervently dream about.
Steady Defensive Success from Tiago Splitter
Another day, another game in which Tiago Splitter's defensive contributions go vastly unnoticed.
If you've missed them—and believe me, you are a part of the majority—please pay extra-close attention the next game.
Splitter ranks seventh in opponent field goal percentage at the rim among players who have had more than three such opportunities on average.
He has increased his rebounding effectiveness and become a reliable defensive presence for the Spurs.
As an ideal complement to Duncan, Splitter must continue his steady defensive play in order to relieve the stress from his older frontcourt partner. Not to mention, if Leonard holds the future of the franchise in his hands, Splitter has a fistful of the Spurs' future as well.
It would be an oh-so-happy holiday season if Splitter can remain as an effective defensive presence.
Another Shot at Glory
Of course, only one thing matters in the end.
Whether or not the Spurs' Big Three remain strong or the younger stars continue to develop, it will all be fairly meaningless if the team falls short of an NBA title.
After such a disappointing and heartbreaking conclusion to last season's journey against Miami, there will always be a hole in the trophy collections of the Spurs' players.
Whether it's the fans, the players, the coaches or Spurs management, everyone with an allegiance to the silver and black would undoubtedly choose a championship if their wish list was limited to one.