The San Antonio Spurs list 18 players on the roster heading into training camp, and Air Alamo will break down each of the current players, their strengths, weaknesses, chances to make the roster and expectations for the 2015-16 NBA season.
After taking in-depths look at contenders for the final roster spots, we’ve reached the point of analyzing players who are undoubtedly secure—the first of whom is veteran Matt Bonner.
Who Is He?
He’s the Red Mamba. Perhaps that’s all anyone needs to know about the 35-year-old power forward, but that’s not all you’ll get.
The pride of NBA players from New Hampshire—all right, the only one, per Basketball-Reference—Bonner attended the University of Florida. After he spent four years in Gainesville, the Chicago Bulls drafted Bonner 45th overall in 2003 and quickly flipped him to the Toronto Raptors.
Bonner spent one year in Europe and two seasons with Toronto before San Antonio acquired him in exchange for Rasho Nesterovic. Since 2006, Bonner has tallied 16.4 minutes per game over 602 appearances, averaging 6.0 points and shooting 41.4 percent from three-point range.
Additionally, the fan favorite was a part of the franchise’s 2007 and 2014 championship-winning teams and buried an NBA-leading 45.7 of his triples in 2010-11.
Strengths and Weaknesses
As you might have gathered in the preceding collection of words that form sentences, Bonner solidified a place in the league as a three-point specialist. At 41.4 percent, he boasts the eighth-highest three-point clip among active players.
Bonner has tremendous chemistry with his fellow Spurs and a clear understanding of his role within the system, which is to space the floor offensively. The 2015-16 campaign isn’t his 10th in San Antonio for no good reason.
Bonner isn’t and has never been an outstanding defender. However, considering his role, “serviceable” is the only adjective the Red Rocket ever needed to attain. Bonner’s shining moment came in the 2013 Western Conference Finals when he helped the Spurs effectively limit Zach Randolph and ultimately sweep the Memphis Grizzlies.
Nevertheless, those days are but a distant memory. Bonner’s best remaining qualities are a decent three-point stroke and, by all accounts, being a tremendous teammate.
What to Expect in 2015-16
Thanks for the memories, Mamba. But if the Spurs need to use Bonner on a regular basis this season, something has gone horribly wrong.
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Tim Duncan, LaMarcus Aldridge, Boris Diaw and David West are capable of handling the 96 available frontcourt minutes, so the third-stringers won’t see much action. While Bonner is a respectable piece for depth purposes, barring injury, he’s no longer a 15-minute-per-night guy on this Spurs team.
It wouldn’t be surprising if Bonner picks up a little playing time and officially appears in 65 games or so. Gregg Popovich won’t run Duncan, Aldridge, Diaw and West into the ground, and Bonner is a leading candidate to grab the remaining scattered minutes.
But most importantly, he’s the Red Mamba. That’s all you need to remember. And don’t you ever forget it.