by Sam Stern
“Go Spurs Go!” is a chant heard throughout the city and surrounding ares. The well-loved team is entering a new stage in San Antonio Spurs history called “The Kawhiot Riot.” Kawhi Leonard has grabbed hold of the reins that Tim Duncan passed down to him and taken them to the hoop.
After playing through a season without The Big Fundamental, the powerful Spurs sculpted an admirable last season. The Spurs had the second best record in the NBA; racking up an impressive 61-21. Going into the playoffs, the Spurs knew it was winning time in the Alamo City. They propelled themselves past the clawing Grizzlies and the blasting Rocket but were not able to squeeze their way through to the NBA Finals because they were playing quite possibly one of the most powerful teams ever, The Golden State Warriors. The Spurs put up a strong fight, but were without key players such as David Lee, Tony Parker, and Kawhi Leonard.
Once the season ended, the Spurs were ready for the free agency frenzy to begin. The Spurs were able to begin the offseason by bringing a high profile player onto this already loaded team. Rudy Gay is the recipient of a ticket to the dance joining the Spurs. This 6’ 8” high flyer has averaged 18.4 PPG throughout his eleven year career. He is a player who has been a steady scorer throughout his career, but has played on teams that do not give him a chance to compete in the big time playoffs. He had a season ending Achilles injury that cut his eventful season short. Since the injury, he has put in the work necessary to put him right back in the fast lane. He will provide the Spurs with a much needed offensive boost, and throw down some highlight reel dunks while in the process.
The visionary that has been the head coach of the Spurs for twenty one successful years has made some additonal excellent choices. Fans look forward to his “popping off” as well as his starting line up choices. He is known as one of the best coaches of all time, and showed off his skills this past season. Coaching a season without Tim Duncan was tough, but he set high expectations and the team delivered.
The organization lost a few players that will be missed by the Spurs family. Dewayne Deadmon, the much improved Jonathan Simmons, and David Lee parted ways which meant the Spurs needed to start looking for extreme talent to fill the voids on the roster.
The Spurs are known for picking up international players and they continued this pattern by bringing in former Bull Joffrey Lauvergne. The 6’ 11’ Frenchmen has played with Tony Parker, and three point specialist Davis Bertans in international play. He is a stretch five that can shoot the three ball with a French kiss.
They will be joined by CU Boulder point guard Derrick White who was picked 29th in the NBA draft. The Spurs also snatched Jaron Blossomgame, 59th draft pick and Euroleague standout Brandon Paul. Paul has the full package. He provides posterizing dunks, long range shots, and acrobatic finishes.
Prized gem Manu Ginobili decided that it was not time to retire just yet. Ginobili has had an illustrious career, and was not ready to pack up his bags. Following an emotional game four reception which Manu received, it appeared too tough to turn down another year. He has been another one of the major second-round steals in the league.
The Spurs also retained fan favorite Patty Mills; the Aussie decided that San Antonio is the place where he wants to win for years to come. He was a top bench producer in the league, and he always rattles those three balls in the net when needed. With Tony Parker out for another four to five months, Mills will have to step up to the plate and manufacture.
With the new roster, this Spurs team will be a running team; they are entering a small ball era. With the signing of Rudy Gay, Coach Greg Popovich can now put Kawhi Leonard at the three and Rudy Gay at the four. When playing teams like Golden State, they will be able to throw in a small ball lineup that can really show a lethal threat.
The draft puts the Spurs at an advantage they didn’t already have; a younger roster. Expect a lot of experimenting this season. Players such as Dejounte Murray, Bryn Forbes, and Davis Bertans will truly be tested this season. These players will be given upgraded minutes due to the fact the team is without Simmons and other players that took up many minutes.
The Spurs will tip off the 2017-18 season, October 18th, hosting the much-improved Minnesota Timberwolves. They will be challenged and put to the test to see if they are a 60-win team once again.
This season could be better than many think. No matter what, the Spurs will strive to represent class, winning, and heart. The Silver and Black are back.
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