Spurs depth chart (really, it's what anyone would do on a random August night) and realized that this may be the deepest team the Spurs have had during the Duncan-Pop era. Right now, per ESPN, the starting 5 isn't that different from last year. Tony Parker, Manu, Richard Jefferson, Greatest Power Forward Ever and Antonio McDyess. Then you get to the second unit and it kind of reminds me of a 2nd unit the Suns used to dismantle San Antonio last spring. The idea of George Hill, DeJuan Blair & Tiago Splitter all coming off the bench is particularly exciting. Throw in James Anderson and you have two NBA ready rookies, a second year guy in Grizzly Blair who spent all summer working on his game and his tweets and George Hill who may be starting at point by mid season.
So riddle me this: Why can't the Spurs be the second best team in the West next year? They now have two seven footers patrolling the paint (something they haven't had since the last title). Manu, TP & George Hill are all dynamic scorers. Hill is a fearless defender and if you look at this story from the folks at 48 Minutes Of Hell, Greatest Power Forward of All Time, Manu and TP are historically great team defenders.
One last thing, there's certain a level of motivation at play here that the Spurs haven't had lately. One, Tony Parker is in a contract year so he wants to prove that he can perform at an All-Star caliber level. Greatest Power Forward of All Time may be looking at this season as his last shot to get a title since he's 34 and there might not be an NBA season next year. This may be his last chance to catch Kobe and get back ahead of Shaq, his two chief rivals during his career, in the ring department.
Assuming everyone is healthy (I know, big assumption), what don't the Spurs have to finish 2nd in the West and challenge the Lakers in the playoffs? Great coaching? Check. Championship core? Check? Size? Check. Youth and athleticism? Check. Motivation? Check. Point is after the Lakers, the West is a giant bag of question marks and there's no reason to think the Spurs can't be a top 3 team in the West next season. And yeah, I know, I should be focusing on a lot of other things besides the Spurs championship chances next summer. We'll be revisiting this again I'm sure.