One of the hardest things in professional sports to do is to repeat as World Champions. That is exactly what the San Antonio Spurs will attempt to do this season. Year end and year out the Spurs are never in the discussion as a favorite to win the championship at the beginning of the season. This year is no different.
The Western Conference games are always a battle every night. The Houston Rockets and the Dallas Mavericks have upgraded their roster. The New Orleans Pelicans are a year older and their rising star Anthony Davis is becoming a force in the NBA. Lebron James returning to Cleveland has vaulted them to the head of the projections as favorites to win the title his season. These teams are among the favorites to compete for the NBA Championship this season.
Head coach Greg Popovich has mastered to art of resting players over the grueling course of an 82 game season. In the past he has allowed players to not travel on certain back to back games and has limited the minutes of his key players of Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker. Popovich is also the General Manager and he has put together a great selection of players who are not worried about individual statistics or personal glory.
Two key players Boris Diaw and Danny Green were not wanted by their previous teams. Both have been vital players in with the Spurs and making back to back appearances in the NBA Finals. The Spurs have also been good in finding key players by way of the draft. Kawhi Leonard is entering his fourth year as a Spur and has been a starter since his rookie season.
Here are three keys for the San Antonio Spurs for this season:
Will the big three continue to shine?
Every year there are whispers of can the big three of Duncan, Ginobili and Parker play the entire year on a championship level? In the NBA finals loss to the Miami Heat two years ago every expert were saying that Ginobili was washed up and should retire. However last season during the finals against the Heat he was an active force in leading the Spurs to a dominant 4-1 series win. Parker and Duncan have been perianal NBA All-Stars. Can they continue to be members of that team with all of the upcoming rising young stars in the league?
How will the new additions affect the team?
The Spurs quietly resigned all of their free agents without having to break the bank. The Spurs selected with their first round draft pick Kyle Anderson from UCLA. Anderson is 6’9” power forward will be working under the guidance of one of the best power forwards in the history of the game in Duncan. If Anderson is able to contribute this season it will allow in the reduction of minutes for Duncan to assure he will be healthy and not burnt out during the playoff push. Anderson is a good passer and rebounder and understands and appreciates the fundamentals of the games.
Can Popovich continue to maximize his roster?
Popovich has a way of getting all of his players to play as a team and to fight for success of the team and not for individual success. Every time Popovich is asked, should he be considered as a candidate for Coach of the Year he just brushes off the questions and turns the focus back to the team. The Spurs have players from seven different countries. Popovich is not afraid to adjust his game time philosophy based on his opponents and the current rules of the league. Given the history of Spurs, don’t be surprised if they are playing In the NBA finals again this season for the third consecutive year.