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2015-16 San Antonio Spurs Season Preview

Basketball Insiders previews the San Antonio Spurs’ 2015-16 season.

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The San Antonio Spurs won 55 games last year, but lost in the first round of the playoffs to the Los Angeles Clippers. But any concerns about the Spurs no longer contending were removed when the team added LaMarcus Aldridge and David West this summer in addition to re-signing Kawhi Leonard to a five-year deal. Now, the Spurs seem set up perfectly for the present and future. Can they hoist the Larry O’Brien trophy this year?

Basketball Insiders previews the San Antonio Spurs’ 2015-16 season.

Five Thoughts

What the Spurs’ front office does from year to year is just unfair. Getting Kawhi Leonard locked in for the five-year max before the new salary cap hits makes him one of the biggest bargains in the league, and David West’s contract might be the most team-friendly deal of the last few years. Most importantly, though, the Spurs were able to lure LaMarcus Aldridge away from Portland and persuade Tim Duncan to return for another year. Manu Ginobili is back as well, so he’ll help out Danny Green and Tony Parker in the backcourt again this year. Even Kyle Anderson looked like the best player in Summer League, so there’s no shortage of excellence anywhere on this roster. San Antonio is two players deep absolutely everywhere, which is perfect for keeping the older guys healthy for one more championship run before Duncan retires. It is an even-numbered year, after all.

1st Place — Southwest Division

-Joel Brigham

Face it: the San Antonio Spurs aren’t leaving the realm of the league’s elite any time soon. After years of fielding questions about who would be the franchise’s cornerstone once Tim Duncan hanged up his laces, the team secured All-Star forward LaMarcus Aldridge in free agency. Aldridge is a nightly 20-10 threat and will keep the Spurs relevant for years to come. After a disappointing first round playoff elimination last season, the Spurs are one of the favorites to represent the Western Conference in the NBA Finals come June. Yes, the team should be that good.

1st Place — Southwest Division

-Lang Greene

In life, there are few guarantees — except death, taxes and the San Antonio Spurs contending. The re-signing of Kawhi Leonard and the signing of LaMarcus Aldridge should ensure that the Spurs are contenders for the next five years, but whether they win it all will depend on how gracefully Tony Parker ages and whether Gregg Popovich continues to man their bench. After being bounced by the Clippers in the first round of last season’s playoffs, who really knows what to expect from the Spurs this year? A big part of their strength was their depth, and although they have added Aldridge, some of their key pieces are gone. Tiago Splitter is in Atlanta, Marco Belinelli is in Sacramento, Cory Joseph is in Toronto and Aron Baynes is in Detroit. The core is intact, though, and so long as they stay intact and approach the regular season with some sense of urgency, I think they have a good shot of winning the mighty Southwest — the toughest division in the league.

1st Place — Southwest Division

-Moke Hamilton

The Spurs are ridiculously talented and I think they pose the biggest threat to the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference. There have been some questions about how new additions like LaMarcus Aldridge and David West fit with the team’s returning core, but Gregg Popovich is a wizard so I’m not worried about this team jelling. San Antonio has championship potential and it wouldn’t be a surprise to anyone to see them win it all.

1st Place — Southwest Division

-Alex Kennedy

The Spurs are perennial Western Conference contenders. As their veteran core of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili are in the latter stage of their respective careers, the organization shored up its future by re-signing Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green and landing one of the most highly sought after free agents: LaMarcus Aldridge. The pieces are in place for the Spurs to transition into their next chapter. This season, the roster is built with star power across the court. David West’s decision to join the team for less money shows players around the league recognize and value the potential to win now. I expect them to be one of the top teams in the West and right there fighting to come out of the conference.

1st Place — Southwest Division

-Jessica Camerato

Top of the List

Top Offensive Player: LaMarcus Aldridge

Aldridge gives the Spurs another low post presence who can dominate the basket and the boards. Last season he averaged 23.4 points on a team that featured Damian Lillard, who was scoring 21.0 points himself. Aldridge’s numbers could drop as his number of shots could decrease on a stacked team. But he was brought in to be a top contributor and should be one of the Spurs leading scorers.

Top Defensive Player: Kawhi Leonard

It’s hard to look past his title as reigning Defensive Player of the Year. Leonard is one of the league’s best perimeter defenders. He led all players in steals per game (2.3) and is just the sixth forward to do so since the NBA began tracking the stat. Only 24, the ceiling is still high for him to improve. As more and more teams are going small and playing away from the basket, Leonard’s shutdown defense becomes even more valuable to lock down the competition.

Top Playmaker: Tony Parker

The veteran playmaker led the Spurs in assists last season with 4.9 dimes per game. While the team gets plenty of ball handling off the bench from Manu Ginobili (4.2 APG), Parker is still the driving force on the floor as the starting point guard. His numbers may not be as flashy as Chris Paul or John Wall, both who averaged 10-plus assists last season, but that’s not his role on the Spurs. Parker plays within the system to get his teammates the ball as needed, a chemistry that has led to multiple championships.

Top Clutch Player: Danny Green

With the game on the line, having a sharpshooter on the floor is a huge asset. After a slow start to his career, Green has established himself as a knockdown offensive player. He broke the NBA Finals three-point record in 2013 and he shot 41.8 percent from long range last season. Even though the Spurs have dominating bigs, this shooting guard is one of their most dangerous offensive weapons.

The Unheralded Player: Tim Duncan

There is no question Tim Duncan is a future Hall of Famer. Duncan flies under the radar, however, for his high production value at nearly 40 years old. Duncan’s ability to average a near double-double each season is underrated. Last postseason, he posted 17.1 points and 11.1 rebounds per game — in his 18th campaign. He epitomizes discipline and hard work, characteristics that are not loud and flashy but proven and noteworthy.

Best New Addition: LaMarcus Aldridge

Aldridge was one of the most sought after free agents this summer. The Spurs lured him away from other title hopefuls to further build the foundation for when they transition into the next chapter of the organization. With the addition of Aldridge (along with re-signing Leonard and Green), the team is built to remain a championship contender when the Duncan-Parker-Ginobili era comes to an end.

-Jessica Camerato

Who We Like

Gregg Popovich: What’s not to like about a hard-nosed coach who wins multiple championships by playing fundamental basketball? There is no glitz or glamour, just Xs and Os that get the job done. Popovich has become a must-watch interview for his demeanor that can spark thousands of words in reaction without saying much at all.

David West: West took a huge pay cut this offseason to sign with the Spurs. At this point in his career, the chance of winning a title outweighed the salary. West’s intentions are clear as he will boost the Spurs depth with a championship focus.

Becky Hammon: Even though she wasn’t on the court, Hammon was the breakout star at the Las Vegas Summer League. The Spurs assistant coach was appointed Summer League head coach and led the team to the championship in July. Unafraid to speak her mind during game action, she combined her experience from her WNBA career with her first season on the Spurs bench to drive the team to victory.

Patty Mills: On a team of future Hall of Famers and All Stars, it is easy for Patty Mills to get overlooked. That doesn’t diminish his role on the Spurs, however. The point guard from Australia gives the Spurs a backcourt boost off the bench. He missed the start of last season rehabbing a shoulder injury. If he can stay healthy for 82 games this time around, he will give the veteran guards valuable rest and bring energy to the floor.

-Jessica Camerato

Strengths

The Spurs have championship experience that gives them an intangible advantage when it comes to the postseason. Their core has also been playing together for what feels like an eternity, an instant edge when it comes to team chemistry. The Spurs have a balanced roster of veterans and emerging star players that can feed off and learn from one another.

-Jessica Camerato

Weaknesses

Age and health are always question marks for the Spurs. Duncan, Parker and Ginobili – along with fellow veterans like Boris Diaw and Matt Bonner – have amassed thousands of minutes over their careers. It is key to manage the playing time of these players in order to have them ready to go full speed in the postseason.

-Jessica Camerato

The Burning Question

Will the Spurs come out of the Western Conference?

The Spurs have the pieces to be one of the top teams in the Western Conference and unseat the Golden State Warriors. It will likely come down to health and matchups in the postseason. If the Spurs have everyone playing at 100 percent, they have more than enough weapons to make a very deep run. They have been contenders year after year, and the addition of Aldridge boosts their chances of coming out of the West and potentially winning it all.

-Jessica Camerato

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