Ranking 7 Worst Spurs starters of the Big 3 era

San Antonio Spurs, Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker, Tim Duncan
San Antonio Spurs, Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker, Tim Duncan / Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
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The San Antonio Spurs were the model franchise during the Big 3 era, but that did not make their roster perfect. Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili won four championships together from 2003 until The Big Fundamental retired in 2016. No franchise had more success during that stretch. The Big 3 turned the Spurs into a dynasty and Gregg Popovich into one of the all-time great coaches, but there were some questionable starters during the team’s incredible run.

Coach Pop was never afraid to experiment, and the Spurs routinely had ten-plus players earning starts every year. Injuries and missed games forced some of that. It is unfair to call someone the worst starter in an era that only opened a handful of games because another player was out.

If a player is in the starting five for 20 percent of a season, the team had intentions to feature him. That helped us land on 18 games started as the criteria for this list, so who were the worst starters during the Duncan, Ginobili, and Parker era?

Ranking San Antonio Spurs' worst starters of the Big 3 era

7. Steve Smith

Smith was a standout shooting guard throughout the 1990s, including making an All-Star appearance in 1998, but he did not arrive in San Antonio until 2001. The Spurs traded Steve Kerr, Derek Anderson, and one second-round draft pick to get the 32-year-old. Smith was just exiting his prime, but he was the team’s third-leading scorer and a key contributor in 2002 as the Spurs were bounced in the second round of the playoffs by the Lakers.

That was technically not part of the Big 3 era because Manu Ginobili did not come to San Antonio until the summer of 2002. His first year with the Spurs would be Smith’s last.

There was a steep drop off in production from the 33-year-old. He started 18 games, including the first 16 he played, but he could not hit his shots and his defense declined. Smith averaged just 6.8 points on 38.8 percent shooting from the field and 33.1 percent on his 3-point tries. He was out of the rotation for the majority of the team’s title run, and he signed with the Hornets in free agency the following summer.

Steve Smith is an All-Star and NBA champion in his 14-year NBA career, but he struggled mightily in the first year for the San Antonio Spurs' Big 3 era to earn a spot on this list.