Skip to content

NBA season preview: San Antonio Spurs

Oct 22, 2012, 11:00 AM EDT

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. Kevin Durant to have third foot surgery; is done for season, playoffs

    Mar 27, 2015, 3:09 PM EDT

    Kevin Durant Kevin Durant

    He should be back next season, the final one of this contract with Oklahoma City.

  2. High praise: Bob Cousy says Hassan Whiteside reminds him of Bill Russell

    Mar 27, 2015, 1:32 PM EDT

    Boston Celtics v Miami Heat Boston Celtics v Miami Heat

    Cousey said not Shaq, not Ewing, nobody reminded him of Russell like Whiteside.

  3. Report: Salary cap could rise to $105 million in 2017-18

    Mar 27, 2015, 11:55 AM EDT

    AP Money Found AP

    As everyone braces for 2016 spike, another big bump could follow

  4. Goran Dragic leading feisty Heat’s playoff push

    Mar 27, 2015, 10:55 AM EDT

    Goran Dragic, Josh Tiven Goran Dragic, Josh Tiven

    LeBron James and a lot of stature are gone, but with the more-modest goal of just making the playoffs, Miami’s new point guard embracing the challenge

  5. Anthony Davis made 100 free throws in arena after Rockets loss

    Mar 27, 2015, 10:19 AM EDT

    Houston Rockets v New Orleans Pelicans Getty Images

    Pelicans star missed eight free throws in setback to Houston

  6. DeMarcus Cousins has response for fan who tells him to stop complaining about calls

    Mar 27, 2015, 8:30 AM EDT

    Houston at Sacramento Getty Images

    Cousins has gotten better, but he still has yet to hear a foul call he liked.

  7. Amar’e Stoudemire on retiring: “There’s a lot of high-level basketball left in me”

    Mar 27, 2015, 1:08 AM EDT

    Orlando Magic v Dallas Mavericks Getty Images

    Stoudemire can give a team 15 minutes a night off the bench of quality play.

  8. NBA admits incorrect no-call by referees on final play of Lakers’ overtime win over Timberwolves

    Mar 26, 2015, 11:00 PM EDT

    Los Angeles Lakers v Minnesota Timberwolves Los Angeles Lakers v Minnesota Timberwolves

    A day later the league says Andrew Wiggins was fouled, but the officials let it go at the time.

  9. Clippers holding off on re-signing Nate Robinson after second 10-day contract expires

    Mar 26, 2015, 10:00 PM EDT

    Charlotte Hornets v Los Angeles Clippers Charlotte Hornets v Los Angeles Clippers

    Clippers would need to ink Robinson for the rest of the season, but are waiting to see how quickly he can return after a recent knee injury.

  10. Wizards coach Randy Wittman: ‘I don’t give a crap what Marreese Speights thinks’

    Mar 26, 2015, 9:00 PM EDT

    Randy Wittman AP

    Speights said the Warriors knew the Wizards would quit after Golden State beat them recently, and Washington’s coach responds.

  11. Nets say Thaddeus Young has a left knee strain, out Friday vs. Cavaliers

    Mar 26, 2015, 8:00 PM EDT

    Milwaukee Bucks v Brooklyn Nets Getty Images

    Brooklyn is a half-game out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the East.

Featured video

Where does Steve Nash rank all-time?
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. K. Durant (6385)
  2. K. Lowry (5958)
  3. R. Rubio (5888)
  4. L. Aldridge (5726)
  5. P. George (5536)
  1. G. Monroe (5508)
  2. D. Rose (5345)
  3. B. Knight (5313)
  4. D. Howard (5229)
  5. N. Batum (5158)