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. 76ers second rounder Jordan McRae signs in Australia

    Aug 30, 2014, 2:00 PM EDT

    Jordan McRae Jordan McRae

    Former Tennessee guard, drafted No. 58, will help Philadelphia tank from afar

  2. Goran Dragic’s brother, Zoran, getting interest from Pacers

    Aug 30, 2014, 12:30 PM EDT

    BASKET-EURO-2013-SLO-FRA BASKET-EURO-2013-SLO-FRA

    Other NBA teams also watching Slovenia closely in World Cup to assess Zoran

  3. World Cup Preview: USA vs. Finland, what to expect

    Aug 30, 2014, 11:00 AM EDT

    Finland isn’t as good as the teams the USA was destroying in tune ups.

  4. Reports: Spurs making run at Ray Allen, who remains undecided if he will play anywhere

    Aug 30, 2014, 9:30 AM EDT

    2014 NBA Finals - Practice Day And Media Availability Getty Images

    He can decide this summer, or he can wait and join a team mid-season. There is no rush.

  5. James Harden on Kobe Bryant return: “He’s 20-year-old Kobe”

    Aug 30, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT

    Houston Rockets v Los Angeles Lakers Houston Rockets v Los Angeles Lakers

    “We talk and he’s ready. He’s 20-year-old Kobe. It’s going to be a crazy environment.” — James Harden on Kobe Bryant

  6. Record 45 current NBA players to compete in FIBA World Cup

    Aug 29, 2014, 11:15 PM EDT

    Pau Gasol and Marc Gasol (R) watch as th Getty Images

    Tournament features a record 75 players who have played in the NBA at some point, and we have the complete list.

  7. Chris Paul discusses his signature shoe, hoops with media at launch of his Jordan Brand CP3 VIII (VIDEO)

    Aug 29, 2014, 9:45 PM EDT

    101_Chris Paul Unveils Jordan CP3.VIII

    Chris Paul is way more into sneakers than you are, and articulated it well at the launch of his latest signature shoe in New York earlier this week.

  8. Report: Spurs interested in Mexico’s Gustavo Ayon

    Aug 29, 2014, 8:15 PM EDT

    ayon bucks Getty Images

    Ayon has played for four teams in three NBA seasons, and currently only has offers to play overseas next year.

  9. Iman Shumpert scares people (video)

    Aug 29, 2014, 4:15 PM EDT

    Iman Shumpert, Trevor Ariza Iman Shumpert, Trevor Ariza

    Knicks wing acts as security guard in prank

  10. 67RIEFNS No. 1: Tom Thibodeau managing his bigs

    Aug 29, 2014, 3:33 PM EDT

    Chicago Bulls v Los Angeles Lakers Getty Images

    Bulls have Joakim Noah, Pau Gasol, Taj Gibson and Nikola Mirotic

  11. Jerry Colangelo: Team USA ‘by far’ better than 2010 squad that won gold

    Aug 29, 2014, 2:47 PM EDT

    Team USA Showcase Getty Images

    Colangelo touts Anthony Davis, James Harden, Stephen Curry, Derrick Rose, Rudy Gay

  12. Clippers will stretch Miroslav Raduljica, too

    Aug 29, 2014, 2:00 PM EDT

    Miroslav Raduljica, Omri Casspi, Donatas Motiejunas Miroslav Raduljica, Omri Casspi, Donatas Motiejunas

    By also stretching Carlos Delfino, Clippers can sign four veterans to minimum contracts

  13. Derrick Rose knows injury questions will keep coming. And coming. And coming.

    Aug 29, 2014, 1:15 PM EDT

    Derrick Rose, Anderson Varejao, Raulzinho Neto Derrick Rose, Anderson Varejao, Raulzinho Neto

    The truth is limited games in an unusual setting don’t provide real answers to how Rose is feeling or will do down the line. What you think this says about Rose really says more about what you think of Rose’s future than anything else.

  14. FIBA World Cup preview: USA, Spain, then who else can medal?

    Aug 29, 2014, 11:40 AM EDT

    Pau Gasol, Kevin Love Pau Gasol, Kevin Love

    It should be USA/Spain for the gold, everyone else is playing for third.

  15. Pelicans’ coach sees Anthony Davis making big leap with Team USA

    Aug 29, 2014, 10:24 AM EDT

    Anthony Davis Anthony Davis

    Anthony Davis should lead the Pelicans to the playoffs, which would make Monty Williams feel safer.

Featured video

Will LeBron get booed Christmas Day in Miami?
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. K. Love (3250)
  2. D. Rose (3028)
  3. K. Bryant (2578)
  4. L. James (2525)
  5. R. Allen (2101)
  1. K. Irving (2099)
  2. C. Delfino (2013)
  3. T. Mozgov (1907)
  4. D. Waiters (1863)
  5. S. Marion (1772)