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. LeBron James carries load, makes enough plays in Cavaliers win (VIDEO)

    May 25, 2015, 8:00 AM EDT

    Atlanta Hawks v Cleveland Cavaliers - Game Three Getty Images

    LeBron finished with 37 points, 18 rebounds and 13 assists .

  2. Al Horford ejected after elbow to Matthew Dellavedova’s shoulder (VIDEO)

    May 24, 2015, 9:46 PM EDT

    Al Horford Al Horford

    A trend is becoming clear: Do not mess with Dellavedova.

  3. Mitch Kupchak: Lakers “don’t have time” to build through the draft

    May 24, 2015, 6:30 PM EDT

    Mitch Kupchak Mitch Kupchak

    The Lakers will be picking second in next month’s draft.

  4. Lil B says James Harden is officially under the Based God’s curse

    May 24, 2015, 3:30 PM EDT

    James Harden James Harden

    The rapper wants Harden to apologize for stealing his dance.

  5. Stephen Curry glares at heckling Rockets fan, tells him to ‘sit down’

    May 24, 2015, 11:00 AM EDT

    Stephen Curry Stephen Curry

    Curry not only dropped 40, but he was talking back to the fans in Houston.

  6. Sixers expected to select best player available over need with No. 3 pick in 2015 NBA draft

    May 24, 2015, 9:30 AM EDT

    Sam Hinkie Press Conference Getty Images

    Depending on what happens with the first two picks, Philadelphia could fill both requirements.

  7. Warriors don’t live by 3, die by 3. They live by defense, live by defense

    May 24, 2015, 12:57 AM EDT

    Golden State Warriors v Houston Rockets - Game Three Getty Images

    There’s seemingly no solving Golden State’s dominant defense

  8. Stephen Curry drops 40, Warriors rout Rockets by 35 to take 3-0 series lead

    May 24, 2015, 12:07 AM EDT

    Golden State Warriors v Houston Rockets - Game Three Getty Images

    Houston has played well and valiantly this postseason, but the Warriors are simply better.

Featured video

Will Klay Thompson get a little help on James Harden?
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. K. Irving (6751)
  2. K. Love (5671)
  3. D. Howard (5311)
  4. S. Curry (4887)
  5. L. James (4288)
  1. D. Carroll (4254)
  2. P. Beverley (3945)
  3. K. Bryant (3726)
  4. K. Durant (3626)
  5. M. Speights (3540)