Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Spurs So Far

It's still really early, but I felt like a little over two weeks in to the season was a good time to give some initial thoughts on this year's Spurs.  The team just wrapped up a 95-91 win in Charlotte.  Considering this Bobcats team absolutely destroyed the Spurs in Charlotte last year, I'm actually quite encouraged by this win.  The Spurs are 3-0 on the road so far against middle of the road teams which is where you want to be this early in the season.  The offense really seems to be clicking already.  The Spurs are 4th in the league in scoring and more importantly second in assists. They have four players averaging 17 points a game or higher and two averaging 20 points or higher.  Richard Jefferson has been out of this world averaging 20 points a game and shooting over 60% from the field.  Even tonight when it looked like his shot was off he found other ways to stay involved, most notably the seven rebounds and four assists.  The Spurs couldn't have asked for a better start from him.

Unfortunately the defense, like my writing and statistical breakdowns, is still a work in progress.  The Spurs rank 20th in rebounds, though I would argue that number gets better the more minutes Tiago Splitter gets and the more comfortable he becomes with the pace of an NBA game.  What is more of a worry is the fact that the Spurs are allowing teams to shoot 48 percent against them and 42% from behind the 3-Point line.  Luckily the offense has been there so far, but hopefully they get to Spurs basketball on defense, which is closing out on 3-Point shooters, pushing everyone baseline in to the bigs.  I think the personnel is there to fix these problems, especially if Splitter can be an effective pick and roll defender once he gets more minutes. (Quick tangent on Splitter, I'm not sure which I'm hoping for first, for him to become a regular rotation guy who plays D and rebounds or for him to get those awful highlights out of his hair. I hope happen soon)

For me the bright spot has been how well the bench has played so far.  Last year the Spurs got pulverized by the Suns bench in the 2nd round of the playoffs (I just said the Spurs stole an idea from the Suns. My life is a lie).  Tonight against Charlotte, as well as the Clipper game last week, there were stretches where the Spurs had four or five bench guys on the floor at the same time and they held or extended leads.  This is incredibly encouraging especially considering how young the Spurs bench is.  George Hill needs to get his scoring going a bit more, but I don't think that's giant concern.  James Anderson and Gary Neal have looked great in spots.  Does anyone else see Michael Finley potential in James Anderson?  I'm not talking about Spurs Michael Finley, I'm talking Dallas Mavs borderline All-Star Michael Finley.  Athletic, a fearless shooter and he looks like he wants to be good on defense, he just hasn't figured out how to be yet. The tools seem to be there and I think he's in the right system to harness them.

In short, I think the Spurs are off to a great start.  The only team they've lost to is still undefeated and they're 3-0 on the road.  They have the Clippers and Sixers at home coming up, then travel to Oklahoma City next Sunday, which isn't as daunting as it may have looked before the season started because OKC has struggled a little bit early in the season. If they can just buckle down on defense the Spurs just may have something here.  No bold predictions yet, but let's just say I'm as optimistic about this team now as I was a few weeks ago.

League Notes:

-I hate to say it, but the Lakers look fantastic, even if it has been against a Charmin soft schedule.  Pau Gasol looks better then he ever has.  My only question with this team is can a team of 30 something year olds can make a deep playoff run 4 years in a row.  The core of this team has played in over 100 games (not counting international play) each of the last three seasons. Do they have enough gas to finish?

-Chris Paul wants you all to know he's the best point guard in the league.  It's not even close. Don't come at me with Rondo or Rose.  Chris Paul is back!

-I'm not worried about the Heat, they're 5-2 and are playing at about 70% of what they're capable of playing at.  They do need to figure out how to get Chris Bosh involved more and I suspect LeBron will do that once he gets more adjusted to his Point Forward role.

-NBA League Pass Broadband is awesome. That is all.

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