When you’ve got a chance, take it and make it. You don’t know when the opportunity will knock on your door again.
This phrase is true, not just in the NBA but also in everyday life. After all, San Antonio steamrolled through the regular season and led 2-0 in the Western Conference Finals before the Oklahoma City Thunder won four consecutive games.
As always, credit should be given to Oklahoma City as they leveraged their athleticism effectively and Scott Brooks for making a few strategic adjustments, namely defending the pick-and-roll aggressively and defending Tony Parker with Thabo Sefolosha.
By re-signing Tim Duncan, Boris Diaw, Danny Green and Patty Mills while also adding Nando De Colo, the Spurs kept their core in tact, in the event that familiarity will get them over the hump. But around the league the tenor has changed dramatically; the Los Angeles Lakers added Steve Nash, Dwight Howard and Antawn Jamison, who will help shore up their depth.
The Thunder return all their core players, with the benefit of more experience. Miami is tailoring their roster around LeBron James — and his unique build and ability allow for a bunch of complementary pieces, as Ray Allen, James Jones and Mike Miller will be among the 3-point shooters that will give him ample space to operate.
The influx of talent converging on the elite teams shouldn’t take away from this pressing question: Will the Spurs contend for a title by simply hoping familiarity and internal development are enough?
With a lot of mileage in the the respective odometers of Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker, there isn’t a copious amount of time before Father Time collectively severs their careers altogether. The Spurs will surely look more than ever to Green, Mills, Kawhi Leonard and Tiago Splitter to help them breeze through the regular season — which shouldn’t be difficult because Gregg Popovich excels at managing minutes.
If you watched the Spurs in Vegas, you probably saw that Leonard can handle more of the scoring duty next season. And from what I can see, he seems just fine and will do a good job. With Mills, San Antonio would like to witness his scoring gifts, and his transient bursts of passing ability, to come to full fruition.
Here’s where it gets tricky: even after factoring the internal development, we can’t forget that the Spurs’ Big Three is regressing and the weaknesses, namely interior girth and deficient athleticism, are still weaknesses.
But isn’t this plan a lot better than tearing up a successful roster? At least this way fans will retain some semblance of hope.