Over the next month, Blazer's Edge will be rolling out season previews for all 30 NBA teams. Continuing this feature, we discuss the San Antonio Spurs with Pounding the Rock writer Jesus Gomez. (Yesterday's preview: Los Angeles Clippers)
San Antonio Spurs 2014-15 Season Preview
2013-14 Record: 62-20, No. 1 in Southwest Division, No. 1 in Western Conference
Roster additions: Kyle Anderson (rookie, No. 30), JaMychal Green
Roster subtractions: Damion James
SB Nation affiliate: Pounding the Rock
Blazer's Edge: I guess I should start by asking, is this finally the season when age becomes insurmountable for even the Spurs? It feels like the trend has swung from people writing off the Spurs to the team now consistently getting the credit they've deserved for years...have you noticed the same?
Jesus Gomez: It's absolutely true that the perception of the Spurs has swung. But that's what winning does for a team. It wasn't crazy to wonder if it was all over for them after the Suns swept them. After making the last two finals and being up 2-0 against the Thunder in the West finals the year before, counting out the Spurs would be silly. And yet that question - is this the year age catches up to them? - has been valid for a while. I obviously don't have a definitive answer, so I'll go with "I hope not."
BE: The only addition to San Antonio's roster this past offseason was rookie Kyle Anderson, drafted at No. 30. What's your outlook on Anderson? Do you think Spurs GM R.C. Buford did the right thing by standing pat -- other than re-signing a few of his own guys -- this summer?
JG: It didn't take long to see that Anderson can play. He is smart and talented. But I think it will take him a year or two to adjust to the league and contribute. So that means it's the same team. And I do think bringing everyone back was the smart thing to do. The Spurs did pursue Gasol, which showed they were up for change if it meant an upgrade in talent. But once he chose the Bulls, standing pat was the right decision.
BE: Tim Duncan opted into the third and final year of his contract for the 2014-15 season. Will he be able to play at the same level he's played at the last few seasons, and will he retire this spring?
JG: One of the weirdest statistical years in recent history has to be Tim Duncan's 2012/13 season. He was as good as his best years, at least from a per minute basis. I don't expect that kind of production again but if he can do what he did last season, the Spurs should be fine. As for his retirement, I think it will depend on his health. Last year he didn't miss time with injury. If he's healthy all year long again this season, I can see him coming back for one more.
BE: What is it about coach Gregg Popovich's gameplanning on both sides of the ball that allows him to plug in bench players, use a 10-man rotation and rest his starters so consistently without skipping a beat? Is this more a result of Popovich's coaching, Buford's roster construction or a combination of the two?
JG: It's definitely a combination of the two. Pop sets out basic rules that everyone has to follow, from Duncan to Austin Daye. And R.C. makes sure the guys they bring in are fine with that. But it all starts with the stars. If Tim Duncan doesn't mind getting fewer touches, how can the eighth guy in the rotation complain about his role? The result is players doing exactly what they know they can do well and what the team needs them to do. And nothing more.
BE: Kawhi Leonard won Finals MVP last spring when the Spurs took home the NBA Championship. What's the next step for Leonard as a player?
JG: Pop has emphasized consistency as Kawhi's biggest challenge and it's hard to disagree with that. But if we are getting into specifics, Leonard definitely needs to learn how to create for others. That's a huge hole in his game. He can already create for himself from the mid-post and attack seams in the defense. But he hasn't been able to break down defenses and get his teammates open looks. Has his development in that area been stunted by sharing the court with the ball-dominant Parker and Ginobili or is he just not a playmaker? The answer to that question will determine his ceiling.
BE: Pounding the Rock has its own language, making use of an ever-expanding lexicon. Can you sum this up for a PtR outsider, and describe some of your favorite PtR-isms?
JG: Ah, the Lexicon. It's a collection of words, acronyms and memes that are PtR-specific and we used to use them all the time. With the influx of new readers we have tried to tone down its use because a lot of people just had no idea what was going on.
As for my favorites, I love SEGABABA, an acronym for SEcond GAme of a BAck-to-BAck that saves everyone time and actually transcended PtR and was used by other sites. PATFO made saying Pop And The Front Office easier, too. Those are the two I use the most. But my favorite was the "Tony needs to dominate Fisher" meme. It became a talisman of sorts. And now that we've retired it, I definitely miss it.
Special thanks to Pounding the Rock writer Jesus Gomez for taking the time to discuss the San Antonio Spurs' upcoming season with Blazer's Edge. Jesus can be found on twitter @JeJeGomez_PtR. Pounding the Rock has you covered for Spurs news and analysis.
-- Chris Lucia | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter