Skip to content

NBA season preview: San Antonio Spurs

Oct 22, 2012, 11:00 AM EST

Kawhi Leonard

Last Season: A classic, and what we’ve largely come to expect from these Spurs over the last five years — achieving regular season success, making a dent in the playoffs, but ultimately falling short of a title.

San Antonio finished tied for the league’s best record, then swept its way through the first two rounds of the playoffs — building an 18-game winning streak in the process — before being dropped by the Thunder in the Western Conference Finals.

Key Departures: None.

Key Additions: The Spurs continue to be the model franchise in terms of bringing in international players, and French guard Nando de Colo — who the team actually drafted back in 2009 — is already paying dividends in the preseason.

Three keys to the Spurs season: 

1) The San Antonio Spurs are now known for their offense: It’s true. The Spurs led the league in offensive efficiency last season at a blistering 108.5 points per 100 possessions — and 1.4 points ahead of the team in second in that category, the explosive Oklahoma City Thunder. Even more surprising was how they did it — without a 20 points per game scorer, and with just four players averaging in double figures. No regression can be tolerated if the expectation is to remain in the top tier of the Western Conference.

2) Is Kawhi Leonard as good as Gregg Popovich thinks he is? Popovich is one of the best coaches in the league, but one with a hard-nosed reputation that doesn’t include a history of heaping undeserved praise on his players. When it comes to Leonard, however, Pop had no problem telling the world he believes that the player entering just his second NBA season will be the face of the team and a star in the future.

Leonard played well for the Spurs in his rookie season, but did his damage on the defensive end of the floor; 10 of his teammates posted higher points-per-game scoring averages than Leonard’s 7.9, in a balanced San Antonio offense that was the league’s best. If Leonard progresses toward showing the rest of us the star potential that Popovich already sees in him, the Spurs could be even better than last year.

3) Championship or bust: This may seem like an unfair expectation to place on San Antonio, especially when you consider they’re playing in a conference that features a newly-stacked Lakers team, along with a Thunder squad that had little trouble with them in the playoffs a season ago. But when you look at just how consistently Gregg Popovich is able to put together a team that competes near the top of the standings, it’s only natural to want to see them progress to the next level.

What Spurs fans should fear: That the team is already squeezing as much as it can out of its existing roster of talent. If that’s the case, that’s fine — there’s nothing wrong with being one of the top four teams in the entire league. But if the ceiling has been hit, there’s no room there for the team to make that leap back into the championship conversation.

Prediction: It wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Spurs at or very near the top of the regular season standings once again. All the key rotation players are back, and Popovich should have them playing to potential earlier than a Lakers team with large new pieces to try to fit together. San Antonio is going to be very tough to deal with all year long, and if there’s something left once the postseason begins — along with a renewed commitment to defense — the Spurs could be right there at the end, playing for a spot in the Finals once again.

Latest Posts
  1. Hornets’ Kemba Walker has successful knee surgery, expected to miss a minimum of 6 weeks

    Jan 29, 2015, 12:01 AM EST

    New Orleans Pelicans v Charlotte Hornets Getty Images

    The good news is that Walker may return in as little as six weeks, which means Charlotte’s playoff chances should remain intact.

  2. George Gervin on Klay Thompson’s 37-point quarter: ‘I don’t feel he broke my record’

    Jan 28, 2015, 11:15 PM EST

    NBA All-Star Jam Session 2014 Getty Images

    The Hall of Famer held the previous record with 33 points in a period, but did so before the three-point line was implemented.

  3. NBA says Matt Barnes’ $25K fine had nothing to do with Suns owner Robert Sarver

    Jan 28, 2015, 8:50 PM EST

    Los Angeles Clippers v Phoenix Suns Getty Images

    Barnes immediately played the victim card after receiving the fine, but the NBA (and the video) say otherwise.

  4. Phil Jackson denies illegally deflating basketballs while playing for the Knicks

    Jan 28, 2015, 7:50 PM EST

    Phil Jackson, James Dolan, executive chairman of the Madison Square Garden Company AP

    “Softer but not illegal,” Jackson attempted to clarify.

  5. LeBron James out Wednesday vs. Blazers with wrist injury

    Jan 28, 2015, 7:00 PM EST

    Cleveland Cavaliers v Golden State Warriors Getty Images

    Cleveland is just 1-8 without LeBron in the lineup this season.

  6. Kobe Bryant expected to be ready for start of 2015-16 season after undergoing successful shoulder surgery

    Jan 28, 2015, 6:37 PM EST

    Phoenix Suns v Los Angeles Lakers Getty Images

    Bryant will miss the remainder of the current season, and is expected to be sidelined for nine months.

  7. J.R. Smith says he’s playing better in Cleveland because there’s less partying

    Jan 28, 2015, 6:13 PM EST

    Cleveland Cavaliers v Detroit Pistons Getty Images

    One may have to work a little harder to find the late night parties in Cleveland.

  8. Bucks sign Jorge Gutierrez to 10-day contract

    Jan 28, 2015, 5:30 PM EST

    Jason Kidd AP

    Larry Sanders’ suspension allows Milwaukee to add 16th player

  9. Tayshaun Prince: “Obviously I want to be in a winning situation”

    Jan 28, 2015, 4:45 PM EST

    Boston Celtics v Denver Nuggets Getty Images

    He is likely bought out if the Celtics can’t find a trade partner.

  10. Nets doctor expects Mirza Teletovic to make full recovery

    Jan 28, 2015, 1:55 PM EST

    Washington Wizards v Brooklyn Nets Getty Images

    Teletovic being released from hospital today

  11. Phil Jackson once admitted championship Knicks deflated balls

    Jan 28, 2015, 1:17 PM EST

    Jackson AP

    Jackson said breaking rule gave New York an edge due to team’s style of play

  12. Kevin Durant out against Knicks

    Jan 28, 2015, 12:42 PM EST

    Oklahoma City Thunder v New York Knicks Getty Images

    Thunder remain heavy favorites

  13. Report: Terrence Ross riding bench in Toronto but will not be traded

    Jan 28, 2015, 12:05 PM EST

    Philadelphia 76ers V Toronto Raptors Getty Images

    The Raptors are trying to be patient and tap into his potential.

  14. Nikola Mirotic’s unique style rewarding Bulls for waiting on him

    Jan 28, 2015, 11:17 AM EST

    Chicago Bulls V San Antonio Spurs Getty Images

    Mirotic, drafted in 2011, is a darkhorse challenger to Andrew Wiggins for Rookie of the Year

  15. Report: Executives have proposed moving up NBA trade deadline

    Jan 28, 2015, 9:59 AM EST

    Dallas Mavericks v New Orleans Pelicans Getty Images

    It probably would matter less than before, but why change the date?

Featured video

Who should be All-Star Game reserves?
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. K. Bryant (6951)
  2. H. Whiteside (6753)
  3. R. Rubio (6597)
  4. C. Anthony (6529)
  5. D. Howard (6346)
  1. K. Martin (6343)
  2. N. Batum (6196)
  3. K. Walker (5995)
  4. T. Jones (5552)
  5. L. Aldridge (5329)