San Antonio Spurs: 10 Reasons Tim Duncan Won't Win His Fifth Ring This Season
The San Antonio Spurs are most definitely the hottest team in the National Basketball Association. Their record stands at an incredible 20-3 and they remain atop the extremely hard Western Conference.
The team lost their first game of the season but, went on a 10-game win streak that quickly silenced the critics. In addition to that streak, the Spurs are also in the midst of a 5-game winning streak as we speak that they will put on the line tonight against the lowly Milwaukee Bucks.
An interesting note is that San Antonio's three losses were against the surprisingly good New Orleans Hornets (90-99), the dominant Dallas Mavericks (94-103), and the very bad Los Angeles Clippers (85-90). The interesting part is of course the fact that in 23 games, the Spurs haven't lost by double digits. Impressive and unprecedented to say the least!
The Spurs are a great team and to that there is no argument but, I do not truly believe that their future holds a championship. Here is why...
Kobe Bryant and The Los Angeles Lakers
The Los Angeles Lakers and Kobe Bryant have played in the NBA Finals for three consecutive years and have won the last two championships. No team in recent history has ever been as dominant.
The last few years have been odd for the San Antonio Spurs as they had won the 2003, 2005, and 2007 NBA Championships. Anybody notice a pattern?
San Antonio has been dominant in the regular season thus far (20-3) and that is all good. But, the regular season record means nothing unless you win the Championship. Regardless of where the Lakers end up in the standings this year, odds are they will make it to the Finals. San Antonio cannot compete with the Lakers when it comes to playoff time because the Lakers are always on a different level. A level that the Spurs just cannot reach.
And it isn't just the Lakers that are hard, it is also.............(see next slide)
The Western Conference In General
Nobody can tell me with a straight face that the Eastern Conference and the Western Conference are equal.
The Western Conference is SO much better than the Eastern Conference and it is unfair to be frank. In the past it has been teams who have been sub-.500 or worse and have made the seventh seed in the East while the West has had many years where teams with well above .500 records have failed to even sneak into the playoffs.
It is impressive that the Spurs have been so dominant this season but, the talent level of the Western Conference is just far to high for them to remain atop it. Teams like Denver, Los Angeles (Lakers), Dallas, New Orleans, Utah, Oklahoma City, and others that are great teams. I am not saying that the Spurs aren't going to do well but, it is extremely difficult to get to the NBA Finals because you have to beat all of these teams and I just don't think the Spurs can do it.
I don't think they can do it because I just think that..........(see next slide)
The Spurs Really Aren't That Great
Let's be honest, the San Antonio Spurs don't have the best team in the league by any means and I believe they are far behind number one.
The Spurs just have a lot of hard working guys who play the game with such passion and intensity that it makes up for the small lack of talent. I am not saying by the way that the Spurs have no talent, I am merely saying that they win because they work harder than most. That isn't necessarily a bad thing but, at some point the Spurs are going to realize that you need a lot more talent when it comes time for the extra season. Players like Matt Bonner and Antonio McDyess come to mind.
The hustle and hard work is awesome now but..........(see next slide)
They Cannot Possibly Maintain Their Level Of Play
A 20-3 record in the Western Conference is one of the more impressive things I have seen in quite some time. Because as I said, the Western Conference is a very very tough place to play and it is very much so survival of the fittest. Even though the Spurs are on pace for a boat load of wins and very few losses. But, trust me when I say that they won't finish with a ridiculous record of something like (70-12).
That being said, the Spurs (like I also said) are playing at a level that is beyond their talent level. The grit and intensity is great but that isn't players can do for an entire NBA season. It is very hard to maintain that kind of game. They work so hard and it is going to be hard down the stretch as they are going to be ridiculously tired. And come playoff time you need that kind of intensity and if you use it all up in the regular season it is going to be tough to win.
I should also add that too much hard work can lead to a lot of.......(see next slide)
Over the course of the last few seasons the San Antonio Spurs have had to deal with tons of injuries which have dramatically changed the course of their seasons. Like I said before, a lot of hard work leads to a lot of injuries.
The players who seem to be the most susceptible to injuries on the Spurs roster are players like Manu Ginobli, Tim Duncan, and Tony Parker, all of whom are probably the best players the Spurs have by far. In the past, whenever one of the "big three" (not really) goes down, the Spurs struggle badly. It is hard to overcome these kinds of setbacks when your most commonly injured players are your best.
Unfortunately, injuries to the any of the really good players are especially bad on a team like San Antonio because of..........
When I speak of inexperience I am referring to the younger players like the just drafted Tiago Splitter, DeJuan Blair, George Hill, and Gary Neal.
The players listed above are all under the age of 27 and all play predominately off of the bench with the exception of DeJuan Blair. They don't necessarily play a lot but, if one of the starters were to get injured there would be a big problem. Because the young players don't play as much, San Antonio would be in big trouble because the young ones would be immediately thrust into a huge role and it would be hard for them to make that kind of adjustment.
The fact that if one player goes down, a very young player has to be thrust into a big role indicates....(see next slide)
A Serious Lack Of Depth
It is crucial for a team that is competing for a championship to have a ton of depth. The San Antonio Spurs lack that depth. Or at least they lack good and experienced players that can come off of the bench even in a clutch situation. Young players are good to have and develop, but on a championship team you just don't have time for it if you are going to manage your team the way San Antonio manages it.
If someone like Tim Duncan were to go down, it would mean more minutes for young players like Tiago Splitter and DeJuan Blair. And against some of the elite teams in the NBA, those two inexperienced and young players aren't really going to cut it. Especially when you consider.....(see next slide)
The Front Courts Of The Elite NBA Teams
Consider the Boston Celtics for example, one of the best teams in the NBA by far. Now, look at the front court they have in Kevin Garnett and Shaquille O'Neal. Impressive isn't it? Not as impressive as the depth that they have in the front court in players like Glen Davis, Jermaine O'Neal, and eventually Kendrick Perkins.
That is what the Spurs lack, a whole lot of big man depth. If KG were to go down, the Celtics would be missing an important player obviously, but they would still win the game because they have players who can replace him adequately.
One thing the Spurs could do but probably won't do is.......(see next slide)
They Won't Acquire Or Sign a Good Bench Player
If the Spurs want to realistically have a chance at winning it all, they need to add a solid bench player. Something the Spurs tend not to do and is something they should do because they won't win another championship without some good and experienced bench players.
What the Spurs should do (which they probably won't) is trade someone young like a Tiago Splitter and a draft pick for someone who can maybe start in place of Richard Jeffreson (and Rich could come off the bench) or could be a solid presence off the bench.
A drastic sacrifice won't be avoided (but could be avoided) because they........
Probably Won't Listen to Me :(
So maybe it isn't just my suggestion but it is a good idea and one that I endorse fully and one that the Spurs should put in place. They are sort of using the idea but aren't using it to the extent of which I would like.
The Spurs have to start playing more and more players like Tiago Splitter, Gary Neal, DeJuan Blair, and the players on the bench who don't play often. Because there is no need to play your best for many minutes especially when you are a jaw dropping 20-3.
This is a great idea for two reasons. The first, it would give extremely valuable time to the younger players so that they gain important experience on the floor and are exposed more to the NBA style play. So when a player like Duncan gets injured, the effects of an injury like that wouldn't be as severe because a player can fit in adequately in his absence.
The second plus of this idea is that players like Duncan, Parker, and Ginobli, can get a ton of rest and maybe play just enough minutes (like maybe 25-30 minutes a game) to keep them fresh but plenty of time for them to relax, heal, and stay away from injury. Maybe, even once in a while letting one of them skip a game.