People are underestimating San Antonio. Again. And they shouldn’t
LaMarcus Aldridge has all the reasons to smile as the Spurs are to another 4-0 start to open a new season.
People are talking about the Golden State Warriors dominating the season. People are talking about the new Big 3 in Oklahoma. People are talking about LeBron James’ impending departure from Cleveland.
Again. But not everybody is talking about the one team who could have defeated the Warriors during last season’s playoffs if not to the injuries that bugged two of their superstars. Which team is that? Folks, it’s the San Antonio Spurs, the team currently atop the standings in the Western Conference.
After dismantling the Miami Heat 117-100, the San Antonio Spurs already have 4 wins in 4 games which is why they one of the two remaining teams in the league, both from the West, who have yet to lose a game this season. And mind you, folks, Tony Parker and Kawhi Leonard have yet to play a single second this season which proves Gregg Poppovich’s ability to coach and win with a team that is filled with young guys blending with the veterans. Chemistry, isn’t it?
If you’re wondering what enabled the Spurs to start the 2017-2018 season, spotless, despite not having their franchise player who is struggling to climb the stairs just to board the plane, around, this basketball pundit on wheels listed down the three things that equalize to the Spurs’ dashing start:
LaMarcus Aldridge: 28 Points and 8 Rebounds
Over the past few years since coming over to San Antonio, LaMarcus Aldridge has received all sorts of criticisms mainly due to his inconsistency on both ends of the court. While many thought that Aldridge would be traded before the start of the season, many were surprised when it was announced that Spurs and Aldridge signed an extension, extending LA’s stay in Texas for 3 more years, for 27 million Dollars. Many were surprised with this development considering for a player who only averaged 17 points per game during the previous season Well, we all have our different perspective and in the eyes of those who working at the Spurs’ front office, they still believe that LA will be a valuable asset to the team especially in the long run.
And it turns out that the investment is worth it as Aldridge has been producing big numbers for San Antonio to cover the absence of Kawhi Leonard. In 4 games which he started and won, Aldridge has averaged 27 points and 8 rebounds per game- leading San Antonio in both categories. If Aldridge can keep up this level of consistency, Leonard can rest longer until he’s ready to dominate again.
Dejounte Murray: Stability at the Point
We all know that Tony Parker will be hard to replace once he retires, soon. And with TP9 still missing in action due to the injury he sustained during last season’s playoffs, someone has to perform well while starting at the point guard position. Fortunately, the Spurs have someone on their roster for that position. That someone is none other than the 21-year old, Dejounte Murray.
Murray has started in 4 games for the Spurs, so far and even though his numbers (10 points and 4 assists per game) aren’t as high as the other guards in the league, one thing Murray has provided for Gregg Poppovich is the stability at the point guard position and for someone who is only in his second season in the NBA, Dejounte Murray has proven that he is the future of the Spurs, especially once TP9 walks out, for good. Mind you, he had 16 points, 14 REBOUNDS and 6 assists in the Spurs’ victory against the Toronto Raptors. We can expect more performances like this from Murray throughout the season and beyond.
Defense: Playing the Poppovich Style
Gregg Poppovich’s name has been associated with DEFENSE. His dedication to playing D more than anything else is what makes him one of the greatest coaches in the NBA. And this season is no different at all, at least in 4 games to open the season. While the Spurs are not really an offensive-minded team as evident by their 103 points per game- 18th in the league, San Antonio has been an impressive job in limiting the opponents’ total points to 93 points on the average- 2nd best in the league.
San Antonio may be in 25th place in steals per game, norming 6 steals per night but they are at number 2 in blocks per game, blocking 7.3 shots per night, just behind Golden State’s 7.8.
It’s still early to say whether or not the Spurs will dominate anew. But one thing is certain: they are already filled firepower without Tony Parker and Kawhi Leonard. Just imagine if both stars are back in uniform, healthy and playing.