Week 13 Power Rankings: Spurs rounding into shape

John Hollinger, ESPN.com — 5th (2nd in West)

Mike Monroe, Spurs Nation — 3rd (1st in West)

“If you don’t think they’ve got a post-trade edge, ask Mavs’ Brian Cardinal what went through his mind as Capt. Jack glowered at him after his flagrant foul on Tim Duncan.”

Mar 24, 2012; New Orleans, LA, USA; San Antonio Spurs guard Daniel Green (4) receives congratulations from Stephen Jackson (3) after making a shot in the second half against the New Orleans Hornets at the New Orleans Arena. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-US PRESSWIRE

See, this another reason why Stephen Jackson is better than Richard Jefferson. It’s not that RJ was a bad teammate by any means, quite the contrary, but Jackson will stick his head out for you (see, Mallace at the Palace). RJ accepted his role, worked at getting better from the perimeter and refined his game completely. That quality is valuable and RJ never deterred the team intangibly. He just sucked in the playoffs and was prone to disappearing. Jackson is one of the players that has an innate fire about him, and he isn’t afraid to act on his emotions. This could be seen as a bad thing but on a team that shows no emotion (seriously look at Kawhi Leonard’s face after this dunk) his mere prescence on the team could do wonders. Every team needs that guy if they want to win a title. The guy that isn’t afraid of anything and, while he shouldn’t be one of the best players on the team, has a genuine sense of the moment. Our guy is Stephen Jackson.

Chris Sheridan, Sheridan Hoops — 4th (2nd in West)

“No more back-to-backs for Manu Ginobili, coach Pop says (that would take him out of lineup for 8 games) while noting that Tim Duncan probably ain’t suiting up tonight in Philly, either. Stephen Jackson has given them 16, 10 and 14 off the bench in last 3 since trade with Golden State. Of remaining 20 games, three are against Lakers and three are against Suns.”http://airalamo.com/wp-admin/edit-comments.php

Now for the schedule … the Spurs will play a lot. 19 times over 31 days (1.6 games/day) to be exact. Of those 19, 10 are on the road. As Sheridan mentioned, the Spurs are facing the Lakers three times over the next month and, given their recent acquisitions, this isn’t a good thing. The Spurs have yet another (yay) back-to-back-to-back against the Warriors, Lakers and Kings.

Marc Stein, ESPN.com — 3rd (2nd in West)

“I admit it: I thought this was the season that the Spurs, with such limited flexibility to change their team, could finally be written off. So naturally they’ve managed to strengthen a supporting cast that was already underrated by importing Jack, Diaw and Patty Mills … moves that even have Tim Duncan talking big.”

I don’t want to jinx this team but I too feel the same way. Philadelphia had the No. 1 defense in basketball — albeit without stout perimeter defender Andre Iguodala — and the Spurs manhandled them in the 2nd half en route to a 17 point victory. On Friday, the Spurs beat the Mavs by 17. These two wins were without some combination of Tim Duncan, Gary Neal, Tony Parker and Tiago Splitter. I’m not yet ready to proclaim this season as championship or bust but we’re getting there. I cannot stop smiling right now.

Tom Ziller, SB Nation — 3rd (2nd in West)

“When we discard the 2012 Spurs because of the playoff flame-out of the 2011 Spurs, we need to remember that Manu Ginobili was broken in that series against Memphis. He seems OK these days.”

And Manu can still play better. This month he’s averaging 12.1 points, 5.9 assists, 3.8 rebounds, 2.0 3-pointers and a 59.7 true shooting percentage (includes 2-pointers, 3-pointers and free throws). He isn’t getting to the line with nearly the same consistency but he’s not turning the ball over. Manu isn’t being asked to score nearly as much and, instead, has allocated his energy into a more productive manner (for this team) — defensively and shot creation. The new Manu is here. He’ll always have a flair for the dramatic and once his legs are completely underneath him, the Spurs offensive potential will be limitless.

Composite ranking: 4th (2nd in West)

Topics: Andre Iguodala, Dallas Mavericks, Gary Neal, Golden State Warriors, Kawhi Leonard, Los Angeles Lakers, Manu Ginobili, Philadelphia 76ers, Power Rankings, Richard Jefferson, Sacramento Kings, San Antonio Spurs, Stephen Jackson, Tiago Splitter, Tim Duncan, Tony Parker

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