The San Antonio Spurs: Top 3 Keys to Defend Lockout Championship
The NBA is back in business.
With a shortened season of 66 total games, the NBA successfully overcame financial obstacles and disputes from the owners and players by negotiating the end of a seemingly never-ending lockout. The last lockout in the NBA being in 1999.
A year that Spurs fans should know well. The year the city earned its first championship, setting the foundation for success, and eventually earning three additional championships to now have a total of four. And of course, hungry for more.
Today, the San Antonio Spurs announced their 2011-12 preseason schedule, in which they will open the preseason on Saturday, December 17 in Houston at 7:00 p.m. at the Toyota Center against their I-35 rivals: the Houston Rockets.
As with every year, the Spurs management have lots of work to do to prepare, and not much time to do so. What needs to be done to give the Spurs the best chance in winning?
I'll give you three needs.
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The Spurs need to make a move. Although I do not recommend breaking up any of the Spurs' big 3, I will be the first to admit there needs to be a change with the current roster.
And apparently the Spurs feel the same way.
The first place to look? Free Agency of course.
According to ESPN, the Spurs are trying really hard to find the missing piece to the puzzle. The latest puzzle piece that has been targeted is Vince Carter, who was released yesterday by the Phoenix Suns.
In addition to Carter, the Spurs are noted to be in the hunt for acquiring Josh Howard and Caron Butler.
Would these players really help? I think so.
Yes, you can make the argument that these players are not fresh chickens. They all for the most part have already peaked as far as their potential is concerned. However each of these players can contribute a specific void of the Spurs and could be the puzzle piece needed to complete the team.
Vince Carter brings excitement and a proven scorer.
Josh Howard brings defense and another solid athletic forward.
Caron Butler brings toughness and more versatility to the guard game.
And all of them would bring great experience to the already experienced Spurs.
Use Kawhi Leonard
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If you criticized the Spurs in one word, 99% of critics would say the same one.
That is why it is of vital importance that the Spurs draft pick, Kawhi Leonard, gets immediate playing time as well as experience.
One person will not solve the entire "aging" problem, but he is a good start and addition to the rest of the experienced players.
Thought by many to be in the running for preseason Rookie of the Year, Lenoard is known for his high energy and tough play.
More importantly he is a solid defender and rebounder. Two aspects of the Spurs' game that has gotten away from them the last years. It is definitely a step in the right direction.
What does this mean for Richard Jefferson who plays at the same spot as Leonard at the small forward position?
I think it is time the Spurs organization reevaluates RJ and what he brings to the table. He might be better used as a 6th man, and if not then he might be better off used as a valuable commodity to trade.
Time Equals Money
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As the saying goes....
Time is money.
There is no better example than the Spurs. Time needs to be used sparingly for the majority of players. Luckily, like the season in 1999, the Spurs have to spend less time on the court.
This will be the biggest help to the Spurs than any move they could make. Allowing their players to rest is paramount in allowing the Spurs to have the best possible chance at obtaining another ring.
Along with rest comes health. The past few years, the Spurs have been plagued time after time with nagging injuries to one or more of the big three.
Most recently in the last season, the crushing injury on the last game of the season to Manu Ginobili, who ended up missing game one of the first round of the playoffs. Of course, this did not help the Spurs in battling the young Grizzlies.
With a shortened year being the Spurs' best friend, I believe it will be an exciting year for not only the Spurs, but for the Mavs as well, and other teams who have more of the "old" players.
In my opinion, Spurs fans can put off being worried about the "drop-off" that every great team eventually hits...at least for one more year!