How far will Duncan and Company go?
With the NBA season on its way, some teams are talking title while some are just recovering from the free agent frenzy still in place. In the San Antonio Spurs, you have a team that has been in playoff contention talks for the last decade. Talks of Tim Duncan and company in the postseason have been replaced with questions of their age and possible regression in their play.
After winning almost 60 games for the last 12 years, you figure every team has to go through that rebuilding phase but does not seem to be the case with the veteran bunch. Some of the opposition better not sleep on what the trio of Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker are still capable of.
Let's take a look at Spurs roster and see what they are comprised of and can they still complete for a playoff spot in the Western Conference.
How can the trio of Duncan, Parker and Ginobili hold up?
The big three have been a model of consistency over the years and though there has been a slight fall off in their numbers, their overall games are still very solid. Both Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker are 20-point and five-assist guys day in day out. The two will both have even more explosive games and will carry the Spurs at times.
Parker still has the speed to change the pace of the game while Ginobili can use his athleticism and craftiness to get by his opponent going left even though they know its coming. The team surrounded them with plenty of backups to endure this packed season schedule.
Duncan's game might have slowed down, and the big fundamental might not put up the 20 points and ten rebounds with much frequency, but he still plays the game with great control. He sticks to his strengths, which are his bank shot and short hooks around the basket. He will still give you a double-double in points and rebounds.
Jefferson still has game left
With his name faint of amnesty cuts lists, Richard Jefferson is back to manning the small forward slot. His game has grown in the form of 44 percent three-point shooting in 2011, and his jump shooting has been more consistent than the past. Jefferson still has enough athletic ability to attack the basket and play above the rim but he seems more content at shooting jump shot if allowed.
His knack for defense is still in tact as he can defend players both in the post on the perimeter. Jefferson is a really good player and finisher around the basket. You might not see the high flying dunks much due to declining athleticism, but with George Hill gone, he will get 35 minutes or more. He might have seen his numbers drop all year, but with a new season in play, his numbers could spike early.
Tiago's Time to step up
During their reign in the West, the Spurs had a knack for finding international talent and have high hopes for Tiago Splitter. The 26-year-old Brazilian had a great teacher in Tim Duncan. Now, it's time to step into a bigger role. The 6'10" forward/center is a solid athlete uses both hands on the offensive end. Splitter is more comfortable in the low post and has quick hands.
The starter right now is DeJuan Blair, an undersized warrior as well as a medical marvel playing with his knees in the condition they are in. Blair is a ferocious rebounder and plays the game with passion and that makes up for his lack of size
In Matt Bonner, you have your standard stretch 4 who doesn't do much other than shoot long jump shots.
With six players under the age of 26 with four being under 22, the Spurs youth will have their fare share of growing pains. With those pains will be flashes of greatness and play that will have fans begging for more.
One of those players will be the 22-year-old 6'6" James Anderson, an athlete with three-point range. In draft pick Kawhi Leonard, you have an ultra athletic guard with Doctor J-like hands which make him a solid rebounder. Leonard, only 20, has a knack for playing defense and that might his ticket to quality minutes until his offense catches up with the rest of his game.
Corey Joesph is another 20-year-old who will be able to learn and mentored by Tony Parker. He is very quick combo guard who looked to score more in college. Not a pass-first guard who has he quickness to become an on ball defender.
Can the Spurs get ahead of the rest in the West?
With teams such as the Oklahoma City Thunder, Portland Trail Blazers, Memphis Grizzlies, Los Angeles Lakers , Los Angeles Clippers and Denver Nuggets looking like the top six in the conference, The Spurs will be battling it out with three other teams for the last two playoff spots.
The Spurs will probably have to stay ahead of the Dallas Mavericks, Golden State Warriors and maybe Houston Rockets to get a seed and with the veteran trio, things are looking real good in San Antonio to see the playoffs for the 13th straight year. Beware of the Alamo.