2013-14 NBA Season Preview Player Power Rankings for San Antonio Spurs
A handful of promising suitors each campaigned for the final spot on the team, but after much consideration, the San Antonio Spurs front office decided that the core 14 will constitute the opening-day roster.
From top to bottom, the team is overflowing with talent. In addition to superstars Tony Parker and Tim Duncan at the top, valuable role players provide depth and constitute the remainder of the roster.
After falling just short of a title last year, the team has made the necessary player additions to regain composure and work towards a fifth championship.
But which players are better than others?
Where does Manu Ginobili—the epitome of inconsistency—fall? What should one expect from Tiago Splitter, given his massive contract but terrible Finals showing?
With a handful of questions left to be answered, look no further than here to discover the ultimate hierarchy in San Antonio.
The Other Guys (14-11)
14. Nando de Colo
Uh-oh, De Colo. It seems as though any excitement felt towards the Spurs' 2012 summer addition has since disappeared.
Though Nando de Colo presents the team with a handful of benefits, namely his passing, a demoralizing preseason and a crowded backcourt seemingly guarantee that he will either spend his time in Austin or sporting street clothes during San Antonio's contests.
With inconsistent shooting and a penchant to turn the ball over, a miracle will have to occur for the point guard to garner any significant playing time.
13. Matt Bonner
The ever-popular Matt Bonner is likely suiting up for his final season in black and silver, though unfortunately a large portion of it will be spent on the bench.
Bonner brings little to the table outside of his three-point expertise. His lack of athleticism translates into an ineffective inside game and defensive effort as well as a disadvantage on the boards.
He is still useful as a scoring spark off the bench, and whenever the team is in need of another deep threat, No. 15 will be ready for action. With little else to offer, though, that number won't be called upon too often.
12. Aron Baynes
Aron Baynes should be—and may very well be—Gregg Popovich's next long-term project. The seven-foot gladiator undoubtedly has the physical tools to be a dominant inside presence on both ends. However, Baynes is raw and will need to polish his game significantly before he can rise up in the pecking order.
Still, he has shown glimpses of talent: His strength has awarded him with several rebounds and inside buckets, including a buzzer-beating game-tying tip-in against CSKA Moscow.
As a big body, Baynes will find himself with some playing time, though it won't be significant. As he grows as a player, however, keep an eye out for the backup to center to become a formidable role player.
11. Jeff Ayres
When San Antonio signed Jeff Ayres this summer, it came as a bit of a shock. Though the reasoning was clear—the inevitable vacancy of DeJuan Blair needed filling—his name was not one that was tossed around too often.
However, Ayres has used the preseason as a platform to stir up some excitement, showcasing numerous assets that will be helpful to the team.
He has shown a strong feel around the basket, in addition to a mid-range jump shot that is uncharacteristic of those with a similar build. He has also made an impact on the boards, and his hustle on defense allows him to remain a quality defender.
Even if he begins the season as a benchwarmer, it wouldn't be surprising if he becomes a leading bench contributor as the season picks up.
10. Patty Mills
Attention, attention: Patty Mills now has a six-pack.
The above notice may not be of utmost importance to the casual basketball fan, or even the avid Spurs supporter for that matter. It does, however, reflect how badly Patty Mills wants to rise in the point guard pecking order.
Mills is stuck in a backup point guard-by-committee and took the initiative to get in shape before the season in order to maximize his opportunity of grabbing the top reserve spot.
He's been impressive in the preseason, scoring in abundances when given ample playing time. His strength as a shooter is evident and should allow him to garner playing time during the season.
Especially beside a pass-happy shooting guard, Mills may become a prominent bench spark during the upcoming campaign, and while Cory Joseph may ultimately become Tony Parker's primary backup, Mills should still see his fair share of court time.
9. Cory Joseph
Cory Joseph experienced the climax of his 2012-13 campaign during the postseason after spending the beginning of the year shuttling between San Antonio and Austin.
However, he was given an opportunity when Tony Parker missed extended time, and much like Danny Green in the season prior, he ran with it.
Joseph is a balanced player, far more so than the pass-reliant De Colo or the shot-happy Mills. Joseph can both distribute and score, doing so consistently and with confidence.
However, it's his defensive prowess that truly shines. Even better than Parker on that end, Joseph is a lock for a steal or two whenever he finds his way onto the court—something that is valued heavily in the San Antonio system.
He is by far the most comfortable as a ball-handler, and while Mills' shooting will earn him sporadic court appearances, Joseph should comfortably earn the role of Parker's primary reserve.
8. Boris Diaw
When one thinks about versatility, Boris Diaw rarely comes to mind.
Yet Diaw is one of the most relevant examples, as he dabbles in just about every category.
As a rebounder, the 6'9'' forward makes an impact. He has also exhibited a sneakily good defensive game in which his hustle and basketball IQ make up for his lack of athletic tools.
His offensive game is diverse: He can score from down low, mid-range or even from beyond the arc. As a passer, Diaw is one of the best at his position; he distributes with the flair of a point guard.
While he is no star, Diaw's numerous talents have be rewarded with ample playing time in years past, and little change should be expected anytime soon.
7. Marco Belinelli
As the team's most exciting addition, Belinelli will be immediately catapulted into the rotation.
We've seen what he can do: Overall, he provides the team with a handful of Manu Ginobili-like attributes. His jump shot is above-average—especially from deep—and he's an adept driver and passer.
Much like Ginobili, inefficiency is the major drawback, probably the primary reason as to why the otherwise-talented player has failed to find a home in the NBA.
Hopefully he fits in with San Antonio, because his game is versatile and his potential high.
6. Manu Ginobili
Depending on his health situation and how he fares in the upcoming season, Ginobili could propel himself a few spots up or fall back one or two rankings by the end of the year.
But after falling apart in last year's playoffs, the veteran shooting guard will have to play his way back towards the top.
As the epitome of an X-factor, Ginobili has taken on a double life in recent years. Spurs fans know that when playing well, he is among the league's best at his position. On the other hand, they have also witnessed his evil twin, whose inefficiency makes him a liability just as often.
What Spurs fans don't know is which Ginobili will appear on any given night.
With the arrival of Belinelli, in addition to the rise of Kawhi Leonard, Ginobili will find his role slowly dwindling. He'll no longer be relied on as a star, though the occasional vintage performance will ensure that Ginobili leaves his personal impact on the Spurs' record.
Until proven otherwise, Ginobili sits behind the team's starters. However, with a potentially lethal shot and a high basketball IQ, the former star may very well find himself higher on this list by season's end.
5. Danny Green
After breaking out in the first half of the NBA Finals, Danny Green became a household name to just about every NBA fan.
His three-point onslaught set postseason records as he shot his way onto the Spurs' list of relevant players. Of course, Green was always a valuable contributor. However it wasn't until he emerged as a legitimate candidate for Finals MVP that Spurs fans could confidently associate the young guard with the team's other stars.
Of course, there isn't much room to improve; the ceiling of a three-point specialist is fairly low. Green is a poor ball-handler, and his passing skills leave much to be desired.
However, on a team that already has its fair share of distributors and drivers, a dynamic long-range threat can make a huge difference.
Not to mention that his above-average on-ball defensive skills make him a valuable two-way player.
While it would be nice if he could expand his game slightly, nothing too drastic is needed, as Green's shooting alone will be a primary facet of San Antonio's offense.
4. Tiago Splitter
Perhaps the most controversial pick on this list, Tiago Splitter's 2013-14 campaign will emerge as a career-defining season for the rising big man.
He has been on an upward trend since 2011, and while his statistics won't reveal any drastic improvement, watching him in a game will tell a different story.
While the NBA nation may remember him solely as the guy who was embarrassed by LeBron James, the truth of the matter is that Splitter is one of the team's most important members.
He has emerged as a defensive anchor whose contributions—though not as strong as Tim Duncan's—have been imperative in San Antonio's recent success.
On the other end, he is slowly disassociating himself from the "soft" label that he had acquired, becoming a reliable finisher and an expert in the pick-and-roll. His strong passing skills—in comparison to those his size—have been crucial to Duncan's rejuvenation and the team's ability to maintain a high level of ball movement at all times.
While his series against the Miami Heat may be a bit discouraging, Splitter should have no problem returning to his pre-Finals level of play—something that could very well be the deciding factor in another championship run.
3. Kawhi Leonard
Unless you've been living under a rock, you have probably become quite familiar with Kawhi Leonard by this point.
If not, learn about the rising small forward pretty quickly, because it's only a matter of time before he is San Antonio's next big thing.
In just two seasons, Leonard has solidified himself as one of the league's strongest defenders as well as a valuable offensive asset in numerous categories.
His three-point shooting has been lauded since the beginning of his rookie campaign, and his mid-range jumper became a reliable source of scoring as well. His long arms and overall athleticism have made him a quality driver and finisher.
Not to mention, he's only 22.
So where does one go when he has uncontainable athleticism, an elite work ethic and a strong, fundamental foundation?
After a season of refining his skills and adding new components to his multifaceted game, Leonard will be a fringe All-Star in the upcoming season.
With a season of experience behind him, Leonard will be given an increased role, as he looks to use the 2013-14 campaign as a springboard for the next chapter in his career.
2. Tim Duncan
No 37-year-old should be able to dominate younger stars from everywhere on the court on offense while protecting the rim in elite fashion on defense.
Yet Tim Duncan managed to just that during the 2012-13 season.
After exhibiting somewhat of a decline in the previous years, the veteran big man returned to the All-Star game after a one-year vacation, averaging around 18 points and 10 rebounds while picking up All-NBA First Team honors during his 16th year in the NBA.
It is apparent that age isn't limiting what he can contribute. It's simply putting a limit on how much he can contribute.
Duncan's playing time has been an oft-discussed narrative in previous years and will continue to be an important storyline throughout this one.
However, while his court time will be monitored, fans should expect much of the same on Duncan's end. After reporting to camp in shape, one can expect that the league's greatest power forward will leave his mark on the 2013-14 season.
He'll execute with consistent excellence on both ends, lighting up younger opponents in a fashion only he could manage.
1. Tony Parker
In previous years, putting Tony Parker ahead of Duncan would have been deemed highly controversial, though there's little debate anymore as to who is the team's best player.
In the past two seasons, Parker has made the jump from "quality" to "elite" and is undoubtedly in the top tier of NBA point guards.
At 31, the team's offensive catalyst is in his prime, and after two straight seasons of MVP-caliber play, it's hard to imagine him turning in anything else in 2013-14.
He's a brilliant scorer whose quickness has transformed him into one of the league's best drivers. He's effective down low and from mid-range and led all point guards in field-goal percentage last season.
It's been a slow journey to the top, and as he's the team's best player, look out for what may very well be Parker's best season yet.