It’s common knowledge throughout the NBA that the San Antonio Spurs have always embodied team basketball. They are leading the NBA in assists this season, but it goes a little deeper than that. Sure, leading the league in assists is cool and all, but one season at the top of that category does not seal the deal that the San Antonio Spurs are the best passing team of all time.
They are, and it’s not even that close. This season, the Spurs are leading the league in assists and are 25th in turnovers per game. They leading the league in assist/turnover ratio with 2.182 assists per turnover. It’s been a long time in the making.
This season, the Spurs have the best ratio ever, last season they had the third-best ever, and the season before that, they were still in the top 30 all-time. To put that in perspective, since the league started to record turnovers, there have been 1,089 seasons played by NBA teams.
It’s not like this excellence in taking care of the ball and making smart passes is recent. Dejounte Murray might be the best at it, but he did not pioneer this fad unique to the Spurs. Murray has been the starting point guard for San Antonio for the last three seasons, but in 2018-19, San Antonio was second in the league in assist/turnover ratio.
In fact, since the 2005 season, the Spurs have led the league in the category five times, been second an additional four times, and never once has been out of the top ten. No other team comes close to that dominance aside from the LA Clippers with Chris Paul, but that faux-dynasty did not last long at all.
Since the Spurs’ streak began in 2005, they have the NBA’s best record with 893-469. The second best is Dallas, at 791-576. The Spurs could lose out this season and not win a single game next year and they would still have a comfortable lead on Dallas.
Also, since 2005, the Spurs have won three championships. That ties them with Miami and Golden State for the most in that time period. Not only are the Spurs the best at team basketball, but they are also simply the best at basketball.
Even as the Spurs dynasty began to fade, they have remained on top, consistently, in this one category. The Spurs’ way is orchestrated so carefully that even when elite talent retires, the slightly above average players like 2019 Dejounte Murray are able to make good choices with the ball.
In an era when efficiency matters more than anything, the Spurs are still showing the rest of the league how it’s done.