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.
Once the franchise signed LaMarcus Aldridge, the only deals remaining were minimum contracts. Fortunately for the Spurs, David West was willing to sacrifice money in exchange for the pursuit of a championship.
Who Is He?
— NBA TV (@NBATV) September 23, 2015
West spent four seasons at Xavier University, and he was stellar. The power forward earned three consecutive Atlantic 10 Conference Player of the Year honors before the New Orleans Hornets selected him 18th overall in the 2003 NBA draft.
After playing a small role in 2003-04 and 2004-05, West jumped into the starting lineup and didn’t relinquish his place. Over the next six seasons, he averaged 19.2 points and received a pair of All-Star nods.
Beginning in 2011-12, though, West took his talents to the Indiana Pacers, where he complemented the likes of Danny Granger, Paul George and Roy Hibbert. However, the Pacers fell short of reaching the NBA Finals, and West gave up a $12 million pay check for a new basketball home.
“People are talking about what I gave up,” West said, per Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports. “But not as much about what I’ve gained here.”
West, whose streak of 714 starts will end, signed a minimum contract with San Antonio. The veteran wants a championship, and the Spurs are a leading contender for the Larry O’Brien Trophy.
Strengths and Weaknesses
San Antonio’s second unit lacked a pick-and-pop artist last season. Boris Diaw was a mediocre shooter from all over the floor, but David West offers an elite mid-range jumper. He drilled a staggering 50.2 percent of his attempts from 16 feet and beyond.
West is also a smart defender and decent rebounder. The 6’9″, 250-pound forward posted a 19.7 defensive rebounding percentage last season, which, for reference, was slightly lower than Aron Baynes’ 20.7 mark.
However, West is a classic power forward. He can’t shoot threes, he’s not a dangerous rim-protector and he won’t dominate the glass. West is at his best when flanked by a traditional center, and that’s certainly not Diaw.
West is a talented player who would be an asset to every NBA roster. On the Spurs specifically, though, the roster must adapt to his strengths. The old dog might have to learn a couple new tricks.
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What to Expect in 2015-16
San Antonio will utilize West as the center in the second unit, which has the potential to become a lethal offensive unit. If Diaw regains the confidence from three-point range he so clearly lost in 2014-15, West’s mid-range prowess would be yet another deadly weapon.
But the Spurs will likely run into some issues on the defensive side of the floor. While both West and Diaw are respectable rebounders, an opposing center who crashes the boards might be a massive problem.
Gregg Popovich must find out if West and Diaw can coexist in the second unit’s frontcourt, but if that happens, San Antonio will be a dangerous team in the playoffs—just like West wanted when he signed.