The Spurs bring out the best of the city as fans cheer for the beloved team. Year in and year out, the Spurs strive to capture the NBA championship and consistently rank in the top 10 when it comes to attendance.
My love for the Spurs often has me screaming at my television in times of anger and despair and then screaming with joy during clutch moments, solid wins and, of course, any addition to their championship collection (1999, 2002, 2005, 2007, 2014).
This year’s Spurs team has a very different look from past teams. While guards Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili return for another year on the court, as does all-star forward LaMarcus Aldridge and potential MVP candidate Kawhi Leonard, the main center piece of the Spurs franchise is not returning.
Tim Duncan, two-time NBA MVP, 15-time All-NBA Team member and three time NBA Finals MVP abruptly retired in early July. Duncan, the Spurs’ first overall pick in the 1997 NBA draft, is often credited (along with David Robinson) with rejuvenating the Spurs franchise. He was a fan favorite with his humble personality, monotone expressions and consistency on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball.
Tim Duncan’s 157 playoff-win record is the second most of any player in NBA history, and his .710-win percentage is the best of any 19-year stretch in any professional sport. Duncan left behind a winning tradition that will be difficult to keep alive.
The Spurs will have some fresh faces wearing black and silver this season.
Coming down to Texas from the “windy city” of Chicago is Spanish big man Pau Gasol. Gasol is a three-time all star who averages almost a career double-double with 18.2 points and 9.5 rebounds per game. Gasol’s presence complements veteran forward Lamarcus Aldridge, both of whom will create a strong front-court presence
Other notable acquisitions this offseason include former Golden State Warrior star David Lee, French guard Livio-Jean Charles and Spanish forward Davis Bertans. These notable players could produce some quality minutes off the bench.
With their first-round pick, the Spurs drafted guard Dejounte Murray from the University of Washington. Murray, a combo guard (meaning he will either play point or shooting guard), brings explosive ball-handling abilities and tremendous lock down defense. Although his style of play consists of more one-on-one isolation, many people expect him to adapt in and excel in the traditional Spurs offense.
With the new wave of players coming to San Antonio, some notable young players will have bigger roles to fill with the departure of Tim Duncan, Boris Diaw and David West. Players who had good stats but few minutes, like forward Kyle Anderson and guard Jonathan Simmons, are expected to gain more minutes off the bench and even get a starting spot in a game or two.
This team is built for championship contention, but this year is going to be tough. Western Conference rival Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors picked up NBA superstar Kevin Durant. Many NBA fans wonder how this move will work out, considering the Warriors already broke the NBA regular-wins record (73-9) previously held by the ‘95-‘96 Chicago Bulls.
I fully expect the Spurs to make it to the Western Conference Finals, if not further, and give the Warriors the best run for their money out of any team in the NBA this season.