Every season we discuss the decline that is to become the San Antonio Spurs and the Big-Three: Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, and Tony Parker.
Now we learn that it is not a foregone conclusion that Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard will re-sign with the Spurs.
We live in this NBA-world where the anticipation for a drop off is ever-present. It is like following around your 13 year-old dog thinking, “Today could be the day”. If you are a San Antonio Spurs fan, you are thrilled that the decrepitude has been constantly postponed.
If you are a fan of any of the other 29 teams, you are both amazed and disappointed that San Antonio has maintained such a high level of play.
But, the day will come when coach Gregg Popovich wakes up and finds his Spurs will not respond to his calls, and we will know our Spurs, as we know them, are over.
As with your aforementioned K-9, you are sad to see them go, but you will move on. If we believe that we will need to move on from this version of the Spurs sooner than later, I would propose that the new wave of San Antonio Spurs are right in front of our eyes.
Scroll through the slides to see who could replace some of the San Antonio Spurs stars on the current roster!
Al Jefferson (The Big Classic)
Although it seems that Al Jefferson has been in the league forever, he is only 29 years.
Everything about Jefferson should remind fans of Tim Duncan, even down to the nickname (The Big Classic vs. The Big Fundamental). He is an incredible post presence on both ends of the court.
Last year, in only 31 minutes per game, Jefferson became one of the few 20 PPG, 10 RPG players in the league, and, that success has been building. His career averages are 17 PPG, 1.3 BPG, 9.1 RPG. He is also attainable, with a contract expiring at the conclusion of the 2015-2016 season.
While there is certainly no true replacement for 38-year old Tim Duncan, Jefferson has a similar style of play, similar aggressiveness, and comparable statistics. Duncan is a career 19.8 PPG and 11.1 RPG and has provided 15 points, and 10 rebounds in the last two seasons for the San Antonio Spurs.
The young point guard, virtually unknown in the draft, has a great handle, a developing mid range jumper, and is very quick with his first step. He measures 6’3” and 190 pounds.
That description sounds eerily familiar to a rookie Tony Parker. However, I’m talking about the 23-year-old back up point guard for the Sacramento Kings. We hear he is very coach-able, and we can see he would really benefit from Coach Popovich. His numbers are 2.7 assists, 6.2 points in 45 games last year. He is also signed through the 2015-2016 season.
If McCallum were brought in to replace Parker, should he retire, the drop off in points will be significant.
At this stage in his career Tony is a 17-point per night player, but in his first year, he was only a nine-point player with four assists. Per 36 minutes scoring during Parker’s first season he was 11.2 with 5 assists; McCallum’s per 36 minutes: 11.2 , 4.8 assists. Interesting…
Anderson is a 26-year old power forward that does not play in the post.
In fact he resembles more of a small forward with a scoring mentality on par with a really aggressive shooting guard. He is rangy and has a great first step.
After seven years in the league, his numbers are improving: 41% on three-pointers last year, 12.3 PPG and nearly six rebounds. Over the last three years he has averaged 16 PPG, 16 PPG, and 20 PPG. His contract with the New Orleans Pelicans is up in 2016.
Manu Ginobili is the 37-year-old fan favorite of the San Antonio Spurs. He has proven to be a big time player, and has come off the bench to lead the second unit for years. While his style of play is more slashing that Anderson, the points are still there, and the court spacing would still be there for San Antonio. In the last three years Ginobili has averaged 12 PPG.
The 25-year-old native Texan carries the moniker of ‘Jimmy Buckets’ making him sound more like a Sopranos character than the athletically build forward for the Chicago Bulls.
Built physically almost exactly like Kawhi Leonard he is just as strong going to the basket, and very solid on defense. His career nine points per game (although off to a 19 PPG start this year) put him on par with Leonard. He has also averaging 4 assists and 6.3 rebounds this year. His plus/minus this year-to-date is 4.0. Butler’s contract with the Bulls is up this year.
Signing Butler would mean that the San Antonio Spurs would not re-sign Kawhi Leonard.
The 23-year old champion, and Finals MVP, found instant success in the Association, putting in 10 points per game, and snatching six RPG. His career plus minus is nearly identical to Butler, at 4.3.
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All San Antonio Spurs fans should shudder at the thought of the Spurs-as-we-know-them decomposing before our eyes. To further the K-9 analogy we want to wake up to find that our aging team “ran away” one night. A simultaneous retirement is the preferred, and most fitting, end to the group that leads all other historical combinations in playoff wins, and four titles together.
If, for some reason, the San Antonio Spurs are unable to sign Kawhi Leonard, we may wake up to find that our new pet “ran away” too.
However, we will ultimately lose all of these great players. Knowing that, the San Antonio Spurs could be well prepared by evaluating the talent currently available, and attainable, across the league.