San Antonio Spurs: Can This Mix of Players Build a Team Identity?

Ethan NorofCorrespondent IFebruary 24, 2017

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Perennially one of the most successful teams in the NBA, the San Antonio Spurs have established themselves as a brand of quality basketball.

Unlike many flash in the pan type of teams, Spurs General Manager RC Buford has built something special. Although the days of the "Twin Towers" are now just a memory of the past, the team continues to have great success year in and year out, competing at an extremely high level.

However, there are suddenly looming questions for this team that were previously never areas of concern. Is this team is athletic enough? Are they too old? Can the veteran talent teach the youth? These are the unknowns. 

Manu Ginobili is the white, left-handed version of Kobe Bryant. Yeah, he's that good. 

Despite gaining the majority of his notoriety last season for swatting down a bat mid-flight, his play on the court was absolutely phenomenal and he continues to be one of the most gifted athletes in the league.

A menace on the defensive end, an electric shooter, and a dynamic passer, the veteran continues to produce prolific results at age 33. But can the rest of the team continue at his tempo?

Tony Parker may be in his last year with the team, as it looks like the blossoming George Hill is ready to takeover. Will that be an added incentive for the team to band together, or a distraction that will cause disconnect?

There's no denying that Tim Duncan is beginning to show some signs of aging. With coach Gregg Popovich hinting that the veteran will receive more rest than ever before, DeJuan Blair and Tiago Splitter will have to fill major roles on this team.

Will Splitter's success in Europe translate to the NBA? If his play in the FIBA tournament is any indication of what he's capable of, he should be just fine. 

Will the real Richard Jefferson please stand up?

After coming to San Antonio last season, Jefferson really struggled to find his niche in the offense. With rumors circulating that he wouldn't come back to the team this year, Jefferson is back once again and excited about an improvement from last season. But what does RJ even provide?

Sure, he's capable of scoring, although not with the efficiency he had previously in his career. He offers little in terms of peripheral stats, and his defense is average at best.

The Spurs drafted very wisely (as always) this year and selected James Anderson from Oklahoma State, who should be an impact wing player almost immediately. A definite upgrade from the departed Roger Mason, Anderson is much more versatile and offers an overall improvement from the veteran.

Additionally, veterans Matt Bonner and Antonio McDyess will both have to prove solid as they will be asked to play integral roles throughout the season—especially if someone goes down due to injury.

Last season, the Spurs snuck into the playoffs as the seventh seed. With improvements throughout the conference and especially in their own division (Dallas, Houston most notably), it could be tough for San Antonio to find themselves back in postseason play?

The Spurs last missed the playoffs in 1996-1997 when they went 20-62. 

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