After the Spurs won the championship last season there isn’t much to complain about in San Antonio. The Spurs have been the most dominant NBA franchise in the last decade. As a team, the Spurs need to stay healthy. A healthy Spurs team will definitely have them in position to make a championship run. The question becomes “where can each Spurs player improve for the Spurs can continue their winning ways and push for another title?”
Dec 12, 2014; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs power forward Tim Duncan (21) is defended by Los Angeles Lakers centerJordan Hill
(27) during the second half at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
At the age of 38 Tim Duncan has kept it rolling. One way he can help the Spurs is by pushing Coach Gregg Popovich to not rest him as much. Through the first 26 games, Duncan has rested in four games, all of them coming on the second game of a back-to-back set. The more Duncan is on the floor, the more the team will play with the lineup they will use in the postseason.
Dec 5, 2014; Memphis, TN, USA; San Antonio Spurs guard Tony Parker (9) during the game against the Memphis Grizzlies at FedExForum. Mandatory Credit: Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports
One area that Tony Parker can improve on is his rebounding. A few years back this section would’ve been filled with how Parker can improve as a three-point shooter. That has changed as Parker is shooting an incredible 65% from three, leading the NBA. As a rebounder Parker has ways to go, as he is averaging 1.7 rebounds this season. Despite having ways to go, there is hope for Parker to improve in the area, as he averages three per game in his career.
Dec 9, 2014; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard (2) dribbles the ball as Utah Jazz forwardGordon Hayward
(20) defends during the first quarter at EnergySolutions Arena. Mandatory Credit: Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports
Kawhi Leonard has improved significantly as an offensive player in his fourth season. Leonard is averaging 15.2 points, 7.6 rebounds and 2 steals. However, Leonard can improve on his efficiency. Leonard is shooting 45% from the field, a bit strange for a player that shoots 50% in his career. Expect Leonard to improve as the season goes on, maybe 22 games is too small of a sample size.
Dec 9, 2014; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; San Antonio Spurs guard Manu Ginobili (20) dribbles the ball during the first half against the Utah Jazz at EnergySolutions Arena. Mandatory Credit: Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports
Manu Ginobili has played well this season, arguably better than the last two seasons. He is averaging 12.7 points, 4.6 assists and 2.7 rebounds. Like Leonard, Ginobili must improve on his efficiency from the field. Ginobili is shooting 40% from the field, he must look to push it around 43% if not his career 45%. In his last seven games, he has shot 38% so there is reason to be concerned.
Dec 17, 2014; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs shooting guard Danny Green (14) reacts after a shot against the Memphis Grizzlies during the second half at AT&T Center. The Grizzlies won 117-116 in triple overtimeMandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
Danny Green is in the midst of his best season as a pro. Green is averaging 12.2 points and 4.2 rebounds. It’s hard to pick an area in which Green can improve, as he has been efficient (46% field goals, 42% threes). Maybe Green should improve at attacking the basket and getting to the free throw line, as he is a 96% shooter, but only averages one attempt a game.
Dec 17, 2014; San Antonio, TX, USA; Memphis Grizzlies power forwardZach Randolph
(50) posts up against San Antonio Spurs power forward Tiago Splitter (22, L) during the first half at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
For Tiago Splitter it’s simple at this point “stay healthy”. Splitter has played in only five games this season, as he has been out with a right calf strain. If Splitter stays healthy the Spurs will have a chance to repeat, as he is the only solid option other than Duncan that can play center.
Dec 9, 2014; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; San Antonio Spurs forward Boris Diaw (33) boxes out Utah Jazz centerEnes Kanter
(0) during the second half at EnergySolutions Arena. The Jazz won 100-96. Mandatory Credit: Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports
Boris Diaw is a man of many talents, he can shoot, pass, rebound and defend many positions. This season Diaw appears in better shape than the past few. He is averaging 8.8 points, 5 rebounds and 3.6 assists. Diaw can use a raise in his three point percentage (31%), as he is a 34% career three-point percentage.
Dec 14, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Nuggets guardTy Lawson
(3) kicks the ball on a pass by San Antonio Spurs guard Cory Joseph (5) in the fourth quarter at Pepsi Center. The San Antonio Spurs defeated the Denver Nuggets 99-91. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Cory Joseph has done a job in stepping in for Patty Mills, who has been all out season with a shoulder injury. Joseph is averaging 9.2 points and 2.7 assists. While Joseph has been great from the field (51%), he can use some improvement from three point range. Joseph is shooting 32% from distance an improvement from his 29% career mark, which shows that he has ways to go.
Dec 14, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Nuggets guardGary Harris
(14) guards San Antonio Spurs guard Marco Belinelli (3) in the first quarter at Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Marco Belinelli has been solid for the Spurs so far this season. He is averaging 8.8 points and 2.7 rebounds. Belinelli has been a terrific three point shooter this season (41%), which comes as no surprise for the 40% career three point shooter. One area that Belinelli can improve on is his defense. He has always had the ability to defend multiple positions, with his size (6″5) and length. A good example of why I’m saying this, is in the opener against Dallas, one of Belinelli’s only two starts. Monta Ellis, the opposing shooting guard went for 26 points on 11-21 from the field. If Belinelli picks it up on defense, he will see more minutes.
Dec 10, 2014; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs power forward Jeff Ayres (11) celebrates a score with Boris Diaw (33) against the New York Knicks during the second half at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
Jeff Ayres isn’t like most players on the Spurs team. Ayres doesn’t play many minutes (9.1), but when his number is called, he is ready. He is averaging 2.8 points and 2.4 rebounds. Ayres can limit committing fouls, as he averages 1.6 fouls in 9 minutes, which is extremely high. Fouls aren’t a real issue for a player that isn’t playing big minutes, but not committing as much fouls helps, unless they are good fouls of course.
Dec 12, 2014; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs power forward Aron Baynes (16) reaches to save the ball in front of Los Angeles Lakers power forwardCarlos Boozer
(5) during the first half at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
Aron Baynes has been arguably the biggest surprise for the Spurs so far this season. Baynes has been consistent, despite only averaging about 17 minutes per game. Baynes is averaging 7.1 points and 4.9 rebounds. With good size for a power forward at 6″10, Baynes should do a better job of getting blocked shots. Baynes is averaging 0.4 blocks, kind of surprising for a guy that averaged 1.3 blocks as a senior at Washington State.
Dec 10, 2014; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs power forward Matt Bonner (15) shoots the ball against the New York Knicks during the first half at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
The whole world knows that Matt Bonner can shoot the ball. Bonner is a career 42% three point shooter and he is around that mark this year (41%). Bonner’s weakness comes at the defensive end, but he has showed signs. In their first matchup against the Memphis Grizzlies on December 5, Bonner spent the majority of his 21 minutes defending Zach Randolph, who went 4-11 from the field. Despite the terrific effort, Bonner has ways to go.
Nov 17, 2014; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs shooting guard Kyle Anderson (1) reaches out to save the ball against the Philadelphia 76ers during the first half at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
Rookie Kyle Anderson has a better role than most envisioned, when he was selected with the 30th pick in June. Anderson, like Diaw can nearly do it all. The problem with Anderson is that he lacks the speed of a wing and strength of a power forward. What he does have is rare playmaking ability and handle for a player that stands at 6″9. Anderson doesn’t have a lot of field goal attempts, but he can improve his efficiency (35%). His three point shot has ways to go (14%), despite shooting 48% at UCLA as a sophomore last season.
Dec 10, 2014; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs small forward Austin Daye (23) shoots the ball over New York Knicks power forward Amar’e
Austin Daye has always passed the “eye test”, as he is a good athlete with size (6″11) and range. The problem is that he doesn’t seem to be able to put it together. This season Daye has struggled. In limited minutes (10.7), Daye is averaging 3.5 points and 2.3 rebounds. The problem is his efficiency, as he is shooting 28% from the field and three. If Daye doesn’t knock down shots he will never land a big role, as that’s what he does best.
Jun 15, 2014; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs guard Patty Mills (8) shoots the ball over Miami Heat forwardLeBron James
(6) during the second quarter in game five of the 2014 NBA Finals at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
Get healthy. Mills hasn’t played a game all season as he is out with a shoulder injury. He is scheduled to return sometime in January.