San Antonio Spurs News

San Antonio Spurs become underdogs with Carmelo Anthony trade

rwolkenbrod
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 12: (NEW YORK DAILIES OUT) Kawhi Leonard #2 of the San Antonio Spurs in action against Carmelo Anthony #7 of the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden on February 12, 2017 in New York City. The Knicks defeated the Spurs 94-90. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 12: (NEW YORK DAILIES OUT) Kawhi Leonard #2 of the San Antonio Spurs in action against Carmelo Anthony #7 of the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden on February 12, 2017 in New York City. The Knicks defeated the Spurs 94-90. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
facebooktwitterreddit

For the first time in a long time, the San Antonio Spurs should be viewed as underdogs in the Western Conference. That started before the Carmelo Anthony trade and only increased afterward.

If you’ve followed the 2017 NBA offseason, the San Antonio Spurs didn’t make the dent in the headlines that generated buzz or make an unprecedented acquisition. Players like Rudy Gay, Joffrey Lauvergne, and Brandon Paul were signed to join the team that finished second in the Western Conference, with the second-best NBA record (61-21).

Who are those players? One will come off an Achilles rupture, another is a journeyman center, and the third is four years out of college but never played one second in the regular season.

Around the Spurs, was the Arms Race for the top of the Western Conference. Every few days it seemed like a team added a marquee piece. This pushed San Antonio back in the media and preseason predictions, including ESPN’s. Third place isn’t a negative, but a new team slotted above them with the flashy superstars (James Harden and Chris Paul) and an upgrade at point guard, shows the steady drop down the totem pole.

Then came Saturday’s bombshell. The Oklahoma City Thunder traded for Carmelo Anthony, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Yes, the same Thunder that snatched Paul George from the Indiana Pacers to join 2016-17 MVP Russell Westbrook.

New York has agreed to a deal to send Carmelo Anthony to OKC for Enes Kanter, Doug McDermott and a draft pick, league sources tell ESPN.

— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) September 23, 2017

Thunderous Intentions painted the picture well of the trade’s fallout:

Welcome back to the Oklahoma City Thunder bandwagon everyone!

— ThunderousIntentions (@thunderousint) September 23, 2017

There’s not just a Thunder “bandwagon,” though; there’s one for the Houston Rockets, Minnesota Timberwolves, and Golden State Warriors. Whether it’s acquiring Jimmy Butler, Chris Paul or winning two of the last three NBA championships, there’s support for all of those teams.

That leaves one question: Where’s the hype wagon for the Spurs?

San Antonio has the pedigree of the past 20 years. Frankly, they might still finish second in the Western Conference for the third consecutive year. However, they’re in the backdrop of a stacked and historic top of the Western Conference and will be glossed over by the teams that “won” the offseason.

More from Spurs News

It starts with the Spurs having the quietest superstar of them all, Kawhi Leonard. The man who rarely smiles is considered a top-five NBA player for the 2017-18 season. That’s in a group of LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, Russell Westbrook, James Harden, and others that are notably outspoken.

Leonard is also the least-mentioned of that group, arguably. It doesn’t help he’s on a team that doesn’t make headlines for controversial comments and only goes about their business. So, it’s going to take him and the rest of the team out of the lineup.

That “rest of the team” doesn’t feature a superstar, at least not anymore. LaMarcus Aldridge was that player in the 2015 offseason, but never matched his Portland Trail Blazers production. That opened the gap between he and Leonard, which made the Spurs a one-superstar team. This isn’t the case for the Rockets, Thunder, Timberwolves, and Warriors. Not even close.

More from Air Alamo

The Spurs don’t have the second-level superstar to match the other teams, on paper. The technically-sound reputation remains and likely always will, as long as Gregg Popovich remains in charge. In the Superstar War of 2017, that might only go so far. Talent isn’t the only factor toward wins — yeah, no kidding, But, it gets to the point of there being too much to handle, which is what the Warriors bring with their core, along with versatility and the new “positionless basketball” term.

Talent isn’t the only factor toward wins — yeah, no kidding, But, it gets to the point of there being too much to handle, which is what the Warriors bring with their core, along with versatility and the new “positionless basketball” term. This test will be there for the previously-mentioned Western Conference teams, who we still need to see what they’re made of on the court.

Is anyone ever going to question if the Spurs have too much talent for other teams to handle? No.

Must Read: 25 greatest players in Spurs history

San Antonio steps into the 2017-18 season as a top team in the Western Conference, but lightyears away from the spotlight. They might be counted out now, but if history repeats itself for yet another year, then don’t be surprised to see them lurking near the end of the season and the playoffs.

facebooktwitterreddit