Allow me to take you through the Spurs roster, player by player, and fill you in on what to expect from each man during the upcoming season. In addition, enjoy the ‘Fred’s Scale’ which visually reflects my thought on how vital each player is to the team combined with their current talent level.
Tim Duncan #21
Duncan is arguably the best power-forward to ever play the game. He most likely has two productive years left, followed by four years where he is the clear second or third banana on the team. Early this season, expect Popovich to limit his minutes for two reasons. First, his knees broke down at the end of last season and the Spurs will want to avoid that if at all possible. Second, Popovich will use the early season to experiment with the plethora of big men on the roster. McDyess, Bonner, Blair, Haislip, Mahinmi, and Ratliff will all be given opportunities to shine as Popovich searches for the best big-man rotation.
Tony Parker #9
If Parker had not played during the off-season for France, I would say to expect a career year from him. At 27 years of age, Parker should be entering his prime. With both Duncan and Ginobili’s bodies feeling their age, Parker will need to take on more offensive responsibilities. Unfortunately, Parker did play for France this off-season. Even if his ankle is fully recovered by the time the season begins, he still did not give his body ample time to recover from the NBA’s long season. Popovich will need to be very careful with Parker and make sure he is peaking during the appropriate time, the playoffs. To achieve this, Popovich will need to be sure to not wear Parker down during the regular season.
Manu Ginobili #20
Ginobili is the Spurs’ ultimate question mark. Ginobili’s health will greatly determine the success of the Spurs’ season. Make no mistake, the Spurs need a healthy Ginobili to contend with the Lakers. His passion for the game is contagious and his basketball IQ makes everyone on the court better. In a recent interview, Coach Popovich stated that Ginobili had healed and would be healthy, but not in shape, for the season opener. Let’s all hope this is true and Manu can remain healthy for the entire upcoming season.
Richard Jefferson #24
Jefferson averaged 20ppg while shooting 40% from distance. Simply stated, the guy can go. The Spurs will need Jefferson to be athletic, defend, and hit the open three. If he does that, which he is more than capable of doing, he will be a great contributor to the team. An underrated aspect of his game that the Spurs will utilize is his ability to post up. As Coach Popovich noted in a recent interview, this will add a new dimension to the Spurs’ offense as for the first time since Elliott, the Spurs possess a wing player capable of scoring from the block. Also of note, Jefferson started 82 and 81 games in the past two seasons. As a Spurs fan, it’s just good to know that he is not injury prone.
Antonio McDyess #34
McDyess is best described as ‘solid.’ He is a guy that you can count on. Last season he averaged 9.6ppg and 9.8rpg in 30mpg; solid. He is a competent defender and has a nice outside jumper. He should compliment Tim Duncan very well. The Spurs will only ask him to do what he has done his entire career; nothing more, nothing less. Expect McDyess to assimilate to the Spurs’ culture with ease, as the Pistons share the Spurs’ defense first mentality.
Roger Mason #8
This writer is hoping that Coach Popovich will relinquish Roger Mason of his backup point guard responsibilities and utilize his strengths; those of a shooting guard. Mason was at his best last season when catching and shooting. He struggled with the ball handling duties. Expect Mason to hit several big shots during the season, because with players such as Parker, Ginobili, Jefferson, McDyess and Duncan, teams will most likely forget about number 8. And we all know he is not afraid to pull the trigger.
Michael Finley #4
The Spurs finally have the talent to utilize Finley as he should be at this point of his career. Expect Finley to average around 15 mpg and to come off the bench to give the Spurs a lift. He should be very well rested and will be a nice contributor to an already stacked roster.
George Hill #3
Hill was very impressive in Summer League action. He looked extremely comfortable running the team and made good decisions with the ball. He seems to realize he needs to be a scoring point guard, which fits him well. If he does not demand the defense’s attention, it will be problematic for the Spurs. We need George Hill to be an aggressive backup point guard that initiates the action.
Matt Bonner #15
Bonner comes down to a simple decision that only Coach Popovich can make; are we willing to sacrifice our defensive presence for the offense that Bonner can provide? Last season, the answer was a definitive “yes” as Bonner started 67 games for the Silver and Black. This season, we will see what course Popovich decides to take. With a plethora of bigs competing for the job, one thing is for certain; Bonner will have to impress to stay in the rotation.
DeJuan Blair #45
Was it luck, scouting, or a combination of both that allowed the Spurs to draft Blair in the second round? Probably both, but the fact is he is a Spur. The Spurs know what Blair can do — rebound. And that is exactly what he will be used for. Expect Popovich to be wary of his minutes, as he does not have any ACLs. Yeah, apparently it’s possible. As long as Blair can stay healthy, assume he will be in the rotation at 12 or so minutes per game. One last thing about Blair; he worked his tail off this offseason. He looks to be in great shape and is out to prove to every team that passed on him they made a mistake. You have to like this about him.
Malik Hairston #1
An uber-athletic, 6’6”, 220 pound slashing guard; he has a lot of potential at the young age of 22. Last season, when he got minutes, he often doubled the number of Spurs players on the court that could dunk. I am hopeful Popovich gives this guy an opportunity to earn a spot in the rotation. I think he could be a contributor this year, but more importantly, could be an important piece to the Spurs’ team of the future.
Theo Ratliff #42
Theo caused a good amount of head-scratching for Spurs fans. Some overtly supported his signing, while others pointed to the fact he only played in 2, 16, 10, and 46 games in the past four seasons, respectively. Did the Spurs really need a 36 year old washed-up center? I thought that’s why we traded Oberto and Kurt Thomas away. Bill Simmons recently pointed out that we might soon see a trade that involves Matt Bonner and Theo Ratliff’s expiring contract; I hope he is right.
Marcus Haislip #0
Haislip is a very raw athletic talent who has been trying to work his way into the league for years. He was drafted 13th overall in the ’02 draft so he clearly has potential; unfortunately, he has not come close to reaching it yet. The Spurs are hopeful that he will make the team more athletic and imposing under the hoop.
Marcus Williams #2
Williams was drafted by the Spurs in the second round of the ’07 draft. He spent the last two seasons playing for the Austin Toros, averaging 19ppg and 23 ppg, respectively. Whether Williams can earn a spot in Popovich’s rotation remains to be seen. It is clear, however, that the Spurs see enough potential in Williams to offer him a contract so he cannot sign with one of the Spurs competitors.
Ian Mahinmi #28
We at Project Spurs have written about Ian Mahinmi at length. Basically, the guy has been a disappointment and as Spurs fans, we are hoping he will finally contribute to the team this season. However, he is very foul prone and has little to no offensive game. I honestly do not see Ian panning out for the Spurs and expect him to be missing from the 2010 roster.