In 1997, the San Antonio Spurs drafted Tim Duncan, and things just got better from then on.
Duncan exploded onto the NBA scene with 21 points and 11 rebounds per game in his rookie season, proving to be an excellent compliment to the Admiral, David Robinson.
The following season Duncan and Robinson led the Spurs to an NBA championship, and the rising star Duncan won Finals MVP.
The Spurs failed to win another championship until the 2002-2003 season—which was a fitting end to David Robinson's phenomenal career, as he retired after winning the title.
But Robinson's retirement didn't left the Spurs completely diminished, they had managed to add pieces around Duncan. Ginobili and Parker blossomed into stars, and before they knew it, the Spurs had a big three.
Parker, Ginobili, and Duncan pushed the Spurs to win the 2005 and 2007 titles. Four championships in eight years—the Spurs were and still are established winners.
But Manu Ginobili is now 31, and Tim Duncan is 32. The Spurs have possibly the oldest team in the NBA, with players such as Bruce Bowen and Michael Finley filling out the roster. The only young stud the Spurs have is Tony Parker.
So where will this leave the Spurs in five years? Can they win another championship in that time?
Now, although 32 may sound old for a big guy—Shaq is 36 and way past his prime—Timmy D has a completely different style of play that won't be affected much by age. He is considered to be the best power forward to ever play, and his ability to score the basketball in the simplest of ways shall continue to thrive for at least another three years.
Duncan doesn't need athleticism to play—only his shooting touch. I predict Duncan will finish his career with the Spurs, as long as he continues to contribute.
However, Ginobili plays at shooting guard—a position that requires a bit more athleticism and speed something that age takes from players.
Manu is a natural scorer, with an arsenal of moves to get to the basket. He shows fantastic offensive awareness and is a fighter on the defensive end—but as he ages, can we expect to see the same skills from the Argentine?
For now, Ginobili will remain effective for the Spurs—but don't expect him to improve much more. He's almost at his peak, and unlike Duncan, he wont plateau slowly—his effectiveness will decline. His future with the Spurs is less certain than Duncan's, and in years to come he will be a player that is likely to be traded.
Finley, Bowen, Kurt Thomas, and Horry are past their primes and on the brink of retirement. Give it four years and all of them will be enjoying life away from the league. So with a bulk of the roster on their way out, how will the Spurs manage to maintain a high level of play?
Trading players is an option—but I wouldn't expect the Spurs to make a bold move for now. However, they do need to look for players to build a team around Tony Parker, who is most likely to become their franchise player once Duncan's days are over.
Manu is the most expendable out of the big three. In three years, Manu won't be nearly as productive as he is now—and at that point the Spurs can try and make a move for a young player such as Rudy Gay.
The next two years are the Spurs' last chance for a run at a title. With teams like the Hornet and Magic developing players like Chris Paul and Dwight Howard, the Spurs will fall behind the youth of the league.
There is a fine line between experienced and old—and at this moment in time, the Spurs are an experienced team. If the Spurs make the right moves over the next five years, they can maintain their elite status. But until then, we'll just have to wait and see how it all pans out.