|2012-13 Team Rating|
|5th Overall||4th Overall|
Stats through Jan. 22
Tim Duncan has been superlative to lead the way. Tiago Splitter is finally healthy and solid in the middle. They need Kawhi Leonard to step up. The Spurs' weakness remains offensive rebounds (28th).
Tony Parker has picked right up where he left off, delivering another All-Star performance. Nagging injuries (strained hamstring the latest) have affected Manu Ginobili's shot and kept a lid on his scoring.
Coach Gregg Popovich opened training camp with the message that the Spurs had to make a recommitment to their defense and it has paid off. Now they rank fourth overall in defense, while still playing at a fast pace.
Big man Tiago Splitter played so well that he's been moved into the starting lineup and now it's Boris Diaw off the bench up front. Stephen Jackson has lost a bit of his swagger and it's definitely been missed.
The worst thing Gregg Popovich did was get the club fined $250,000 for the flap over sending four key players home from Miami. He's still at the top of his game at strategy, motivating and challenging reporters.
The world keeps waiting for that one more thing that will finally push the Spurs over the edge into the dustbin of would-be contenders. But they just keep fighting back.
The disappointment of having a 20-game win streak and a 2-0 lead in the Western Conference finals end last spring only motivated the perennially overlooked and under-appreciated bunch in San Antonio to get back to work.
After spending the past several seasons juicing up their offense, the Spurs have put the teeth back into their defense this time around. At one point in the first half of the season, they actually ranked No. 1 in both offensive pace and overall defense. That's quite a trick.
Popovich continues to closely monitor the minutes of the 36-year-old Duncan and the veteran big man has rewarded him with his best effort in years. No player in history has amped up his game at such an advance age. While so much praise these days goes to other point guards, Parker continues to play at a level equal to anyone. He carries the burden of being the top offensive gun and also the triggerman and pulls it off.
The disappointments have come from second-year forward Leonard's inability to build on his bright rookie season and a continuing weakness on the offensive glass.
The biggest worry is whether all of the years, the games, the number of times he's recklessly thrown his body all over the court could have taken just the slightest edge of Ginobili's game. That would be significant, because he's a difference-maker in the playoffs.
While the Thunder and Clippers get the highlight reels and attention, the Spurs are still a threat to win the West.
-- Fran Blinebury
Explanation of Marking System
|Golden State Warriors||B+|
|Los Angeles Clippers||A-|
|Los Angeles Lakers||C-|
|New Orleans Hornets||C-|
|New York Knicks||A-|
|Oklahoma City Thunder||A|
|Portland Trail Blazers||B-|
|San Antonio Spurs||B+|