The San Antonio Spurs are back to winning ways, taking five of their last six games, but, their offensive struggles continue to persist. Luckily, the team has been fantastic on the defensive end, ranking third in the league in defensive efficiency.
The Spurs do need to get it together offensively though, especially if they want any chance to capture that elusive repeat for the franchise.
Nov 6, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs guard Danny Green (14) shoots during the second quarter against the Houston Rockets at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
San Antonio has struggled mightily on the offensive end, posting a field goal percentage that ranks 23rd in the league at 43.7%. The team’s three-point shooting has been even worse. The Spurs are shooting 32.4% from deep which puts them as the second worst team in the league in that category with a record over .500.
Things don’t seem to be getting any better anytime soon for San Antonio though, and it might be time for Spurs fans to worry about this team’s ability on the offensive end.
A part of the issue has been injuries among key shooters for San Antonio. Marco Belinelli and Patty Mills have both missed extended time. Kawhi Leonard and Matt Bonner have missed games. Leonard even appears to be in for a season with continued blurry vision.
“My right eye, the vision’s not all the way back yet,” Leonard said. “Hopefully I can heal up soon. I’ve just got to keep competing so I can get used to it and get my rhythm going.”
While injuries have certainly played a part in the Spurs’ offensive struggles, that is not the only reason to blame.
Spurs fans can only hope San Antonio’s defense can carry them through the season and that the team will somehow figure out the offensive magic come playoff time.
Tim Duncan is shooting a career low from the field, Tony Parker is averaging his lowest assist numbers since his rookie year, Manu Ginobili is shooting under 40% from the field.
It sure is a long season and those averages could come up to well, average, especially with San Antonio’s easy schedule over the next few weeks, but, the shocking part is that these numbers are close to average.
Parker averaged 5.7 assists last year, only 0.6 more than his current average. Ginobili has only shot the ball over 45%, his career percentage, when playing 60 or more regular season games one time since the 2009-2010 campaign. And Duncan, while there is no statistic to prove his numbers won’t improve, is an aging star approaching the end of his career. This might just be the year we don’t see Duncan hit 50%.
What about those role players you ask?
Well, first off, they are role players. The only reason guys like Danny Green, Boris Diaw, and others shoot the ball well is because they are getting open looks thanks to opponents putting focus on the Spurs’ big three.
When San Antonio’s opponents decide to focus solely on the Spurs’ big three, it opens up opportunities for these role players to get open shots.
Oct 16, 2014; Phoenix, AZ, USA; San Antonio Spurs guard Marco Belinelli (3) reacts on the court against the Phoenix Suns in the first half at US Airways Center. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports
This has happened time and time again, not just for the Spurs. When a team’s star players are not an offensive threat, it is much more difficult for role players to get into the mix.
Sure we will see guys who average 8 points a night break 20, but, that’s because the opposition is focusing its efforts on a team’s stars, allowing role players to occasionally put up gaudy numbers.
Don’t believe me? Look at the Atlanta Hawks last season after losing Al Horford, a team that was third in the East before losing their All-Star center. Their starting point guard Jeff Teague’s numbers fell as a result because Horford was not there to steal attention.
Even the Orlando Magic role players suffered without Dwight Howard. Look at Hedo Turkoglu’s career after leaving Howard’s team.
Without stars playing like stars, role players struggle to get their own. Now, while there is an emphasis on the Spurs’ shooting struggles in the piece, these thoughts should not be extrapolated to the team as a whole.
San Antonio has still proven to be a fantastic defensive team, and, even with mediocre offense, the team figures to be in the mix of things come April.
I am just pointing out the fact that it does not look like the Spurs offense is going to be anywhere close to what we have seen, not only last season but seasons before.
The team is aging, and if you look very closely, you can see some of these age marks.
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Unless the San Antonio Spurs have an offensive epiphany, its unlikely the team will return to its great shooting displayed in years past.
These offensive issues aren’t going away anytime soon, even with the return of Marco Belinelli and Patty Mills. It might become less of an issue but it won’t disappear completely. For now, Spurs fans can only hope San Antonio’s defense can carry them through the season and that the team will somehow figure out the offensive magic come playoff time.
What do you think about the San Antonio Spurs early season offensive struggles? Let us know in the comments!