Midway into the season and the San Antonio Spurs (35-6) continue their winning ways to the surprise of many.
With winning streaks of 12 and 10, sitting atop the NBA standings, a much improved offensive attack, and only suffering a two-game losing streak, Spurs fans might think this team would receive high marks at the midseason.
However, there is some room for improvement and concerns heading into the second half of the season.
In the meantime, just how well did the Spurs play in the first half of the season? To answer that question, let’s see how the Spurs fared as I hand out my midseason grades for the Spurs by position.
Tony Parker is having one of the best seasons in his NBA career, he is facilitating and leading the Spurs’ offensive attack and is having a career high (6.9 apg) in the assists department. George Hill has improved on the defensive end and is making a case for the Sixth Man of the Year award while rookie Gary Neal has made the Spurs’ bench stronger and has been a pleasant surprise so far. Midseason Grade: A+
Manu Ginobili is playing like an MVP and is currently leading the Spurs in scoring and steals (18.9 ppg and 1.8 spg). The only problem is there isn’t much depth and the shooting guard position. George Hill is splitting time between the point guard and shooting guard spots and rookie James Anderson had a good start to his NBA career earlier this season before getting injured. Midseason Grade: A
Stats wise, there is little difference between Richard Jefferson’s first and second seasons. However, he is more consistent on both ends of the floor and is shooting better from the field while having a career-high (42.4%) in three-point shooting percentage.
Likewise, the Spurs have no consistent backup at the small forward position, they started the season with Bobby Simmons, and Alonzo Gee as backup small forwards and then later on turned to Ime Udoka before getting released by the team. However, they recently signed Larry Owens from the D-League to backup Jefferson. Midseason Grade: B
Surprisingly, the Spurs have used the same starting lineup all season unlike last season when Spurs’ coach Gregg Popovich had numerous starting lineups.
First off, I know Tim Duncan has always been considered a power forward but this year more than ever, it is clear that Duncan is the Spurs’ only legitimate center despite starting at the power forward position. Duncan is a having a career low in points, rebounds and minutes but he can still bring it on a given night.
Matt Bonner is also helping out as the teams’ “stretch 4” and is shooting a career best 50.4% from behind the arc. Antonio McDyess is also been productive off the bench in limited minutes. As for getting the job done and effort, the Spurs power forward rotation may have exceeded expectations. The problem? The Spurs could have matchup problems in a playoff series because of their lack of size at this position. Midseason Grade: B+
DeJuan Blair has had an up-and-down season since being named as the starting center for the Spurs but has done a pretty good job recently. Let’s not forget he is the smallest starting center in the NBA which could be an issue going forward in the NBA season.
Rookie Tiago Splitter still can’t get consistent playing time and hasn’t panned out as expected. Yes, the Spurs are winning with this frontline rotation in the regular season, but they can do better. Midseason Grade: C+
Overall, the Spurs have done an excellent job during the first half of the season but that doesn’t mean their work is done. This team has some room to improve and maybe adding a rotation player or two will help them towards a strong second half push and bring that needed momentum heading into the 2011 playoffs.
What do you think? Agree with these grades? Leave us your thoughts.