Boom or Bust NBA – San Antonio Spurs
Wrapping up the Southwest division took way longer than expected, but here’s hoping I can pick up the pace. For those new to the Boom or Bust series, an FYI on the methodology of the prospect scores is available if you click here.
San Antonio Spurs
2011-2012 Record – 50-16
Even in a 66 game season, the Spurs were able to keep their 50-win season streak alive at 13. Fans and critics have always pointed out about the youth of the Spurs, with no obvious heir to the trio of Duncan, Ginobili, and Parker. But as long as Tim Duncan is still breathing, the Spurs should not have to worry about their future. With that being said, the Spurs have been introducing some younger talent into their rotation in order to cut down on their Big 3’s minutes, and they have produced some quality minutes.
After a solid regular season starting at the Spurs’ pseudo-center spot, Blair quickly sank to the bottom of the Spurs rotation during playoff time in favor of the ultra-versatile Boris Diaw.
Blair is one of the few undersized power forwards who have found reasonable success in the league. He is strong, athletic, and a monster rebounder, but his lack of offensive skills (shooting in particular) made him a poor fit next to Tim Duncan. Barring any big changes, Blair probably won’t be seeing that many minutes behind Duncan, Diaw, Splitter, and Bonner, which puts Blair in contention as one of the NBA’s best 12th man. Stick Blair on most teams and he’s a fringe starter/key role player. DeJuan is still very young at only 23, but unless he work on his shooting and polishes up the rest of his offense, he will be warming the bench not too far from Gregg Popovich.
- Prospect Score – 5/10
Age – 25, Previous Season Stats – 9.1 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 43.6 3P%
Danny Green is an NBA player who just lucked out. In his four years at North Carolina he became the only player in ACC history to have a certain amount of points, rebounds, assists, threes, blocks, and steals. He’s a fantastic guy to have on the floor and is really reaching his potential as an NBA player. His three point shooting was his strongest asset last season, but he was also able to contribute in all other statistical categories.
Danny Green’s best case scenario is a slightly less athletic Arron Afflalo. If he can become a reliable defender he can be a very valuable NBA player.
- Prospect Score – 4/10
Age – 21, Previous Season Stats – 7.9 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 49.3 FG%
The Spurs ‘Big 3’ have just been so successful and dominant the past decade. If you went to a specific NBA team’s store ten years ago, you’d find very different jerseys on sale as you would today. This is how it is for every single team in the NBA… except for the Spurs. Three staples. A 21, a 20, and a 9.
With the Spurs’ Big 3 not getting any younger, Kawhi Leonard might be able to change that. Leonard is arguably the most promising non-Duncan/Ginobili/Parker Spur in the past ten years, and played a key role in last year’s first place finish in the West.
He has the makings of a lockdown defender, could become a very reliable knockdown shooter, and the Spurs love him. Coach Popovich has talked about molding him into a Bruce Bowen type player. A long, athletic Bruce Bowen? That is the ultimate role player!!
One of the better young players in the NBA- only thing is I don’t see a lot of star potential in Kawhi.
- Prospect Score – 7/10
Age – 24, Previous Season Stats – 10.3 PPG, 2.4 APG, 42.9 3P%
Mills only played 16 games last season, but he did fantastic in those 16 games. He’s more of an explosive, scoring point guard than a pure distributor, but a little bit more speed and explosiveness would not hurt the Spurs.
He played great in the Olympics, and the Australian team he led did fantastic with what little talent they had. If Mills played in the 50s he would have been Allen Iverson before Allen Iverson, but the Australian plays in today’s league, and he can only fulfill a smaller niche role as a game-changer off the bench. Patty should see the majority of back up point guard minutes this season, and these minutes may go up if Popovich decides to give his players a little more rest during the regular season.
- Prospect Score – 4/10
Age – 27, Previous Season Stats – 9.9 PPG, 2.1 APG, 41.9 3P%
Gary Neal is another Spurs guy who is not that glamorous, but plays well in the system and puts up good numbers. Neal has a good jump shot and showed some versatility by backing up both guard positions.
Neal is an older rookie, and to be a little more blunt, as soon as San Antonio parts with him, there aren’t many teams that would take him for anything more than the minimum. Neal still does a solid job in his backup role in San Antonio, so kudos to him for making it to the league and playing quality minutes on a good team.
Prospect Score – 3/10
Age – 27, Previous Season Stats – 9.3 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 0.8 BPG
What? The Spurs have an international played stashed away in Europe?
That’s how I felt when I heard about this Tiago Splitter character. The Spurs also had Luis Scola stashed away before they traded him to the Rockets. Add that to their glowing resume that features Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, and you really don’t know what to expect.
Splitter played spot minutes in his rookie season, but his role has expanded significantly this past year. He is becoming more productive and efficient on offense, and is more aggressive on defense. He’s certainly no heir-to-Duncan material and he isn’t exactly young either, but if Omer Asik can get paid a fat contract, another year of similar production from Splitter might mean a big pay day.
- Prospect Score – 4/10