Superman has kryptonite. Cut Samson’s hair and he is weakened. Take away Ralph Hinkley’s (aka The Greatest American Hero) super-suit and he is powerless. Better yet, just hide the suit’s instructions for those who remember the TV show.
At the rate the San Antonio Spurs are winning this season, they appear to be almost unstoppable. Try to run on them, and they can run as well. Play a half-court game, and the Spurs can play a half-court game too.
This begs the questions: with the Spurs off to an NBA best 29-4 record, do the Spurs have any weaknesses? Let’s find out.
Granted the Spurs do have Tim Duncan but after him there is a drop-off.
The Spurs currently have the smallest starting center in the NBA with DeJuan Blair. Sure Blair has the strength, and rebounding prowess but he can be exposed against bigger centers. Matt Bonner is too one-dimensional, Antonio McDyess hasn’t been playing a lot but is serviceable. Still, he lacks the speed and height to contend with other younger bigs in the NBA. Think Pau Gasol.
Tiago Splitter was signed to hopefully address this weakness; however, he has not acclimated himself to the NBA style of play, let alone get the needed time on the court to develop. His progress has been at a glacial pace.
In the same vein, who can the Spurs turn to should one of their bigs go down with an injury? Basically, where is the insurance? Right now the Spurs have a 13 player roster and adding another big would come in handy.
This lack of size could be an issue against teams such as the Boston Celtics, Dallas Mavericks, Los Angeles Lakers, or the Denver Nuggets.
One thing lurking when a team has been winning as much as the Spurs have been is complacency. This has popped up from time to time this season. Case in point the Spurs’ loss to the Los Angeles Clippers and barely beating the Minnesota Timberwolves in overtime. This Spurs team cannot take a quarter, a half, or a night off. Every game is crucial and with NBA teams using the Spurs as a measuring stick, the Spurs carry a target on their back and will get the opposing team’s best effort.
Sure the Spurs are not an old team as in seasons past but the core of the Spurs is Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, have lots of mileage on their legs, and they are not spring chickens anymore. Duncan and Ginobili are in their 30’s and Parker is 28 years old but a 28 year old with lots of mileage.
Ginobili has been logging more minutes than he has in his NBA career. Last season he averaged 28.7 minutes per game and this season he is averaging 31.5 minutes. Duncan has obviously lost a step or two and is in his 14th season. As mentioned, Parker has lots of mileage on his legs despite his young age. Add in the mix, McDyess is in his 15th season, and Richard Jefferson is in his 10th season.
Also factor in health. Duncan, Parker and Ginobili all have dealt with individual injuries and with their age and mileage, you have to worry if their injuries will re-occur for them. Splitter has dealt with numerous nagging injuries prior to joining the Spurs and in training camp while James Anderson is recovering from a foot injury, though is said to be returning to the squad soon.
However, these weaknesses might have been remedied. The Spurs have brought in more youth such as Gary Neal, George Hill, DeJuan Blair, Tiago Splitter and James Anderson to help rest the Spurs’ aging core. Also, Duncan, Parker and Ginobili rested this past summer and Duncan’s minutes have been reduced during the season which would mean a fresh Duncan come the stretch run for the playoffs.
Peaking too soon
There is always the spectre of peaking too soon. At 29-4 you have to understand to play at a high level for 82 games, including the playoffs is a challenge. There will be some drop off as the season progresses and Spurs fan can only hope this team didn’t peak now instead of when it really matters — the final weeks leading up to the playoffs.