With the initial games of the 2013-14 NBA season now just hours away, perhaps now is an opportune time to consider which San Antonio Spurs players may have solidified spots in the rotation with their respective camp and preseason performances.
Let's start with the virtual "locks" to be starting in the Spurs lineup this season.
I'm simply using last year starters as the likely starters again. Tony Parker, Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, Tim Duncan, and Tiago Splitter are in my mind, "no-brainers" as the starting five.
It's the bench that certainly will see changes this year, and possibly not just because of the Spurs newest additions, Marco Bellinelli, and Jeff Ayers.
I see both of these guys getting PT early in the season to help get them accustomed to the players as well as the system. Jeff will very likely only see minutes as backup PF, while I can easily see Marco getting time at both wing positions, and possibly short stretches as a primary ball-handler. My opinion is that both of these guys will end up fitting better with the Spurs than the players they are replacing.
I expect Manu to continue to be a leader of the bench squad, and hopefully he will bounce back from a disappointing year, and be able to contribute in crunch time as well. I think the addition of Marco will help Manu considerably, by taking some pressure off of him by helping with ball handling and such when they are on the court together.
I think Diaw will continue being one of the first bigs off the bench, and expect we will also see him serve spot duty at sf spot in relief of Kawhi depending on match-ups of course.
Here is where it starts to get interesting. Considering the individual performances of our trio of possible backup point guards over the summer, I find myself hard pressed to not give Patty Mills the edge over CoJo for the backup PG position this year. Not only has Patty come into camp in very good shape, he has been pretty consistently good throughout the preseason.
While playing the 4th lowest minutes per game thus far, he has actually turned that into the 4th highest points per game among the Spurs at a solid 10 PPG in only 16 MPG. All that said, I think Pop will likely continue with CoJo as primary backup just because he defends better than Patty and Nando. But I also expect Patty to get more looks this year as well.
And speaking of Nando, I'm thinking he will be wearing street clothes more than a few times this season. He has just been that under whelming. I just don't see him being a regular rotation guy.