By: Opinionated MJ
With LaMarcus Aldridge agreeing to join San Antonio, the Spurs look primed to bring a certain style back to the game that has definitely been endangered. The league has been pushing fastball and the Golden State Warriors fit that model. They’ve done away with voting for “true” centers on the All-Star ballot and now we’re using the term “3 & D” and the important “stretch 4” to describe players that should be playing the power forward position. We’re playing two shooting guards, two small forwards, and a “big”. Let me explain that the easy way: Steph, Klay, Barnes, Iggy, Green as a starting 5. Basically two shooting guards and nearly three small forwards. How many “true centers” do we have there? None. League wide? Cousins, Hibbert, Gasol (Marc), Drummond, Howard, Bogut? Okay, we have more than I thought and I could name more, I think. We’re going to see something like a David Robinson and Tim Duncan frontcourt this upcoming season with Aldridge on board. It’s already July so only three months before we get back into the game on the daily.
Be prepared to be reminded of what the 90’s and early 2000’s basketball looked like, offensively, especially if the Spurs plan on winning a championship as constructed. I don’t think they can get it done without adding at least another shooter or two, and one that can slash. I’ll be direct, they need to replace Bellineli. Period. He made it where Ginobli didn’t need to be as important against other teams when the postseason arrived. Ginobli served as icing on the cake. The only way they can survive as constructed is if they move their plan of attack (and I always compare them to the 2014 Championship Spurs) under the three-point line a bit more. With Aldridge, Duncan, and West, they can play in the mid-post area. The same area Michael Jordan acquired rings from. This of course also allows Duncan to rest even more definitively with West added. He should never play more than 28-30 minutes a game with them both being added to this team. Tiago Splitter was decent but he misses a lot of close shots that could tip the scale of a game. I’m talking easy lay-ups. Aldridge won’t miss those. West is more reliable in that area as well. I expect them to outrebound and outscore opponents in the paint EVERY NIGHT! Same way I expected the Big 3 Miami Heat to win championships, no less. The Spurs sure have a way of deflating current champions when they don’t occupy that spot themselves.
Outside of the Spurs, they only have 4 threats depending on how Free Agency boils down. The Warriors, Thunder, Cavs, and the Clippers IF they can retain DeAndre Jordan. Don’t forget they’ve acquired Lance Stephenson and Paul Pierce. As I write this, the Clippers representatives are at his home and not allowing any reps from the Mavericks to enter his home. Reports say that they will stay there until he re-signs with them. Smart move huh? How can you get kidnapped at your own home? Crazy stuff. Anyhow, the Spurs should be able to outlast just about anyone in the coaching department, but you can’t coach how to stop Steph from pulling up in your face from distance and making it unless you employ a fierce trap defense which will leave you with holes. I am one who believes that the Warriors were NOT at full strength in the Finals. Say what you will but didn’t Klay only score 6 points in the last game? Didn’t Steph only wake up at the end of game 3? Draymond didn’t get acclimated until game 3. Adjustments weren’t made until after game 3. I also don’t think the Clippers had the depth to win this year. I’m still shocked they allowed a comeback from 3-1. So atrocious. You know they cried in the car after that.
The dark-horse in all of this is the OKC Thunder who, when healthy, have the Spurs number. Keep Enes Kanter to go with Ibaka and Adams. Slim Reaper returning from injury with Russell Westbrook who could carry a team to the #3 seed in the east? PROBLEMS! They too, need to acquire RELIABLE shooters. They have my boy Kyle Singler who they acquired from my Pistons but they traded Jeremy Lamb away. Who on that team can shoot besides Durant? Russell? I don’t want to see Ibaka shooting long 2’s and 3 pointers when he has Durant to do that for him. They have to acquire someone who will make a difference. I wont sleep on McGary either. Do I really have to speak on Cleveland? Simple. They have LeBron James.
This league is a guard’s league right now. It seemingly has always been. Nothing works without a decent point guard in place either. Now, we’re requiring every position to have skills like guards instead of serving their very own purposes. I mean, LeBron played the 4 & 5 during the playoffs. Handled the ball, setup the team, set the pace, controlled the game. He did it all. So thinking there’s an easy way to get past Chris Paul, Stephen Curry, Russell Westbrook, Mike Conley, there isn’t. Anthony Davis is also on the prowl. If Jrue Holiday can stay healthy, you can add him to that list along with the Pelicans. The Rockets could be a threat but they can’t let go of too much depth. I’m also believing that the Kings with Rajon Rondo will be a problem if they can get Cousins and Karl to mend their differences (I truly don’t know about that though) and if they let Rondo dominate the ball and his teammates be happy with that decision. Imagine if Phil Jackson could coach the Kings… Now wake up!
The western conference remains stacked and we could analyze what each team could do to beat the Spurs. Simply said, the Spurs can’t be handed the title while they have a little less depth in the backcourt and still no assurance that Parker and Ginobli will be healthy. If Tony Parker is down and out, you can French kiss that ring goodbye.