Can the Spurs Be Considered the Team To Beat in the West?

christian meunierContributor IJuly 19, 2009

DALLAS - APRIL 25:  Forward Tim Duncan #21 and Tony Parker #9 of the San Antonio Spurs during a 99-90 loss against the Dallas Mavericks in Game Four of the Western Conference Quarterfinals during the 2009 NBA Playoffs at American Airlines Center on April 25, 2009 in Dallas, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

You've heard it before I'm sure.

You've heard that they're the oldest team in the league.

You've heard that Tim Duncans' 33-year-old knees can no longer take the strain of an 82 game season plus, as it seems to be for the spur franchise post season games.

Last season seemed to prove all this. For the first time in the Tim Duncan era, the Spurs failed to reach the second round in a 4-1 lost series to the mediocre Dallas Mavericks.

The big three for the Spurs (Tony Parker, Tim Duncan, and Manu Ginobli) were each out for great lengths during the season due to injury. But only one, Ginobli, missed the playoffs where they were ranked No. 2 in the west.

With the team getting older, it is certain that Tim Duncan's quest for a fifth championship is starting to look more and more bleak. But after this offseason, not all is lost for Spur fans.

In fact, the next few seasons are looking promising, to say the least.

The Spur franchise came into the offseason with a mission. That was to keep one of professional sports' greatest dynasties at the top. It was clear that the Spurs needed another scoring threat besides the big three that could create his own shot.

Of course, the Spurs are loaded to the brim with great shooters, such as Bonner, Mason, Hill, and Finley, but none of these guys could score by themselves.

So, what does the organization do?

They go out and shop for the best available player that fits into the spur mold while dumping out some old guys.

The spur front office decided to get a 29-year-old freakish athlete, who, being the star of his team the Bucks, didn't mind being a fourth scoring option for a potential championship team.

I am talking about Richard Jefferson who averaged 20 ppg, 5 rpg, and shot 40 percent from beyond the arc, and, most importantly, was willing to play defense. And while doing this, got rid of three old guys: Oberto, Bowen, and Thomas

That alone had analysts raving.

This move made the Spurs younger and more athletic, those being the two things most people said needed to happen during the offseason. The Spurs also got another free agent, Antonio McDyss.

This guy does another thing that the Spurs needed: He takes lots of the pressure off of Timmy D.

Last season with the Pistons was one of his best. He averaged a near double double with 9.7 ppg and 9.8 rpg. He can consistently make the 18 footer and could possibly crack the starting line up this year.

He is a great fit for the Spurs.

Now, looking back before the draft, it doesn't seem like the Spurs could get much. Their first pick was the seventh in the second round. With that pick, they ended up with DeJuan Blair, who many experts believed would be a lottery pick and many thought he would be in the top 10.

Blair is a 6'8" power forward who officially embarrassed Hasheem Thabeet on national television.

The reason that people believe that he fell so far was that teams were afraid of his knees. During high school, he had a surgery that removed both acl's from his knees.

Teams became afraid and passed on him, and he dropped right into the lap of the Spurs, who did not even expect to get a talent that good in the second round.

Another draftee by the spurs that will probably get a spot on the roster is a Miami sharpshooter. He too was drafted in the second round.

If you wish to learn more about him, all you have to do is watch the highlights from his game against North Carolina.

So with all these offseason moves, can the Spurs keep up with the elite teams, such as the Nuggets, the Blazers, and the Mavericks?

And can they stay with the best, the Los Angeles Lakers?

Well, looking at all their offseason moves and by having arguably the best coach in the NBA, I think that they very easily can.

They have the lightning quick superstar point guard Tony Parker, with three-point specialist Mason at the two, and Richard Jefferson at the three. The four will be taken by either Bonner, McDyess, or Blair, leaving the center spot to Tim Duncan.

This starting lineup is by itself very good, but what sets the Spurs apart from other teams is their bench.

George Hill will probably be TP's replacement, and he was probably the third best player for the spurs during the playoffs. That is followed by Manu Ginobli, probably one of the most hated players in the NBA, but one of the most loved by Spur fans.

They also have Finley who never misses a game, and Drew Gooden who many people seem to forget. Another sleeper on this team is Malik Hairiston who put up 22 one game against the nuggets.

Yes, they are old, but they have at least three more years left at the top with this lineup. They made every move necessary this offseason, and proved that they weren't afraid to spend money.

As long as the big three stay healthy, the Spurs will reclaim their place as the team to beat in the west.