Since power-forward Tim Duncan entered the league, the San Antonio Spurs have consistently been among the National Basketball Association’s best teams. While age might be a factor that is creeping up on the Spurs, they are still adding to their impressive history of success.
The Spurs have currently won 12 games in a row. They have a chance to push that streak to 13 with a win tonight against the Golden State Warriors. The Spurs also have the best record in the Western Conference, and the league overall. The Oklahoma City Thunder and Indiana Pacers are both only a game and a half behind the Spurs, so there is a lot still to be decided. Nevertheless, the Spurs are in an excellent position. Home court advantage is often crucial in the playoffs, especially if a series gets extended to seven games. This is a fact that the Spurs know all too well, considering that they were defeated by the Miami Heat in a game seven on the road in last year’s NBA Finals.
An 82 game NBA season can be a long grind, and this year did not exactly go smoothly for the Spurs at times. The team had to deal with several injuries mid-way through the season. In a strange way, this might have been helpful, because it forced role players to take significantly more minutes and prove that they can step up when needed.
Early on in the season, the Spurs also had some issues generating offensive production from their starting lineup. There is still plenty of time for issues to crop up, but it seems that the Spurs are on the right track. The team as a whole might even be a little better than last year. Third year forward Kawhi Leonard has started to show more aggression on the offensive side of the floor and Patty Mills is emerging as a competent back up point guard.
With another 50 win season already locked up, this year’s Spurs team is building on a history of success. It is interesting to examine how the Spurs have become a consistently competitive team. San Antonio did not win an NBA title until Tim Duncan came into the league, yet only a few franchises rank ahead of the Spurs in terms of total championships. The Tim Duncan era has clearly been very successful.
Talent obviously has a lot to do with this success, yet patience and consistency are also extremely important. Tim Duncan has not had to deal with a myriad of coaching changes like so many other athletes. The Spurs as a franchise have had plenty of time to establish head coach Gregg Popovich’s style and overall system. The Spurs also seem to be careful about making trades and chasing big name players in order to get more “star power.” The team typically gets players who fit the established system and culture.
Success in the NBA draft certainly has played a big role in San Antonio’s consistent success. Players such as Tim Duncan and David Robinson were perhaps fairly obvious choices. Both big men were number one overall picks. Yet star point guard Tony Parker was picked 28th in the first round and sixth man Manu Ginobili fell all the way to the second round of the draft. The Spurs have recently had success with Kawhi Leonard, who was picked 15th overall. They obtained Leonard in a draft day trade with the Pacers. Luck certainly plays a role in draft success, and at least a couple of San Antonio’s picks have been obvious choices. Yet the role of good scouting cannot be denied.
The San Antonio Spurs have are continuing to add to their history of success. Whether this means another Finals appearance is in the future is anyone’s guess, but the Spurs seem to have a very good chance. Regardless, the Spurs have been one of NBA’s model franchises for over a decade.
Editorial By Zach Kirkman