The Spurs won a franchise record 67 games last season. That amazing output wouldn’t have been possible without contributions from numerous players.
Tim Duncan still played a crucial role in the team’s defensive identity, but on his quiet retirement tour, he’s humbly accepted that Kawhi Leonard is now undeniably the nucleus of the Spurs.
Leonard lead the team with a career-high 21.2 PPG. Only three players on the Spurs averaged double-digits in scoring (Leonard, LaMarcus Aldridge, and Tony Parker), but in a remarkable display of team depth, 11 different players averaged at least six points per game.
Parker’s numbers were down last season, but he still remains a critical component to the Spurs’ offense. While Duncan and Parker have slipped in offensive production, Leonard and Aldridge have provided the Spurs with a consistent scoring ability that has allowed the team to keep thriving despite the gradual decline of Duncan, Parker, and Manu Ginobili.
Aldridge’s rebounding and scoring numbers dipped compared to his recent seasons with the Portland Trailblazers, but this was mainly due to the more restricted minutes that he played on a superior Spurs team.
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His production per 100 possessions remained nearly constant give-or-take a couple points compared to his last two seasons in Portland. His acquisition proved to be a great move for the Spurs in their transition to the post-Duncan era.
Leonard ranked 3rd in the league in 3 point field goal percentage, and the Spurs as a team ranked 2nd in the league in that same statistic. Ginobili had a resurgent performance behind the arc, shooting from beyond the arc at his best percentage in four seasons.
The second-unit core of Ginobili, Patty Mills, Boris Diaw (signed with Utah), and David West (signed with Golden State) last season, gave the Spurs assets off the bench that are capable of being impressive starters on other teams.
Rookie center Boban Marjanovic, who now is with the Detroit Pistons, shot over 60 percent from the field, and showed glimpses of the type of player he can eventually develop into. He’s a nimble 7-footer with impressive playmaking skills.
Nov 18, 2015; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs point guard Patty Mills (8) shoots the ball against the Denver Nuggets during the first half at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
With the Spurs’ reputation of maximizing player performances from unheralded prospects.
The Spurs have also long been known as perhaps the most fundamentally solid team in basketball, and this season continued their tradition of doing all the little things better than anyone else.
Nobody on their roster had a free throw percentage less than 69 percent, ensuring that they’d always have a good chance to capitalize on their scoring opportunities.
Shooting guards Danny Green and Kevin Martin had disappointing seasons shooting the basketball. Green made up for his lack of offensive production with invaluable play on defense, but Martin is more one-dimensional in his contributions. Once one of the elite scorers in the NBA, expect him to elevate his game in the playoffs and provide flurries of baskets off the bench.
Andre Miller brought veteran leadership to the team after signing with the Spurs midseason. He’s one of the most respected point guards in the league, and although he didn’t play many minutes for the Spurs, his professional approach to the game had a solidifying impact on the team.
Jonathon Simmons had a promising rookie season, and Kyle Anderson showed improvement in an increased role. Conversely, Matt Bonner has seen his minutes decrease in recent years, but he’s still a great perimeter shooter who has a knack for hitting 3s at pivotal moments.
During the 2015-16 season, the depth of the Spurs helped this team reach their 19th consecutive post season appearance.
Heading into post Duncan-era, San Antonio has more talent and depth to make another run at a championship. Their regular season was fantastic a year ago, and with the additions of Pau Gasol, Dejounte Murray and David Lee just to name a few, this team will be ready to make more noise not only in the Western Conference but all of the NBA.