The season is upon us! I’m sure everyone had their fill of family, food, and NBA action yesterday. Ok…maybe not that last one just yet. Even though I enjoyed seeing real NBA games on my television, it still wasn’t my team, so I think I can handle seeing more.
The Grizzlies tip-off their season tonight in San Antonio against the Spurs. In order to get some insight into the team we last saw in the playoffs last year, we turned to Project Spurs for a Q&A.
1. What did you take away from the first round playoff exit this past postseason (only the second of Tim Duncan’s career)?
That San Antonio needs size, period. Aside from TD, the Spurs do not have much of a presence in the paint and Matt Bonner, and DeJuan Blair will not cut it. Tiago Splitter showed something against Memphis in the playoff matchup but he needs to step up his game if the Spurs want any chance at beating bigger teams. Considering Antonio McDyess has called it an NBA career and the Spurs’ big man corp is worse than it was last season.
2. How do you think the Spurs will do in this lockout-shortened, highly condensed season?
Knowing Popovich, he will be OK sitting out players (especially in those crazy back-to-back-to-back’s) thus San Antonio will drop games. Their core is old (Manu Ginobili, Duncan, and Tony Parker) but their peripheral players are very young so expect those younger players to get much time on the court in order to preserve their “Big 3″ come the stretch run towards the playoffs.
The Spurs will be OK if Pop manages minutes and secures a top-four seed in the playoffs.
3. Which young player do you have the highest expectations for on this veteran-laden squad?
Tiago Splitter. Again, with the Spurs lacking size, he is the team’s only legit big man next to TD. I can forgive him for his sub par first season considering he dealt with injuries and adjusting to a difficult Spurs’ playbook and the NBA style but he has a season under his belt so no more excuses. And his first test will be against the bigger Grizzlies team tonight.
4. What are your thoughts on the Spurs’ offseason moves? Any you wish that they had made that they didn’t?
I do think signing T.J. Ford was one of those under-the-radar moves. Parker played quite a lot during the offseason/lockout (for the French national team and then French squad ASVEL) so should he run out of gas or worse, get injured due to wear-and-tear, Ford is a solid backup point to take the reigns. Not to mention losing George Hill through the Kawhi Leonard draft day trade with the Pacers left a gaping hole at backup point.
Losing out on Caron Butler, Josh Howard and Grant Hill also didn’t help. Richard Jefferson was all but done in San Antonio (via amnesty clause) but neither of the aforementioned small forwards agreed to sign with the Spurs. Now San Antonio is stuck with a player who hasn’t ever lived up to expectations. Hopefully, James Anderson (second year pro) could step in and be the small forward this team needs.
Also, the Spurs not finding size in the offseason will hurt.
5. What are your expectations for this season in terms of it being considered a successful year?
Health, a top-four seed and a deep playoff run. Last season, Manu and Tim got hurt heading into the playoffs against Memphis which lent to their ultimate ouster. Personally, I would love for the Spurs to capture their fifth NBA title and send Duncan off into retirement the right way should he call it a career.