It’s no secret that the Spurs tend to start slow and then bring things together with their famed second half surge during and after the Rodeo Road Trip. Yet each year it seems that fans start jumping overboard as soon as the Spurs get off to a slow start. Just remember, be patient.
Patience and looking at the big picture is important this year. The Spurs have assembled arguably their most talented roster in the Duncan/Pop era and expectations are high. The backcourt is strong with creators and shooters in Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, George Hill and Roger Mason. The frontcourt is deep with Tim Duncan, Antonio McDyess, DeJuan Blair, Theo Ratliff and Matt Bonner. There is also the addition of their most dynamic fourth option – Richard Jefferson. The talk among fans revolves around winning a championship and that must be the Spurs goal. However, there are reasons why the Spurs could easily trail New Orleans or Dallas in the Southwest Division standings at the end of November.
First, the Spurs have limited Duncan, Parker and Ginobili significantly during the preseason. It simply is not important for those three to play many minutes right now since they have played together so much. However this means it will take some time before they are comfortable playing with Jefferson, McDyess and the many other new players. There will be a learning curve. Passes will be off during the first month as they get used to each others offensive games. Rotations will be missed and pick-and-rolls will be botched as they adjust to each others defensive games. When these things happens, remember to have patience.
Second, Duncan and Ginobili are out of shape. This is by design. Last year Duncan was forced to carry the team while Ginobili and Parker both missed games with injuries. By the end of the season his knees were obviously hurting and he was not the same player we were used to seeing. Though this offseason he lost weight (15 lbs.) to decrease the pressure on his knees, he also rested more than usual and comes into the new season not in game shape. He will spend the first month of the season working into playing form. Ginobili is in the same situation after coming off his ankle injuries. He also spent the summer resting and needs time to work back to the Ginobili we are used to.
Finally, remember that these are the Spurs. They don’t worry too much about their record until the All-Star break. Now, this does not mean they don’t care about losing, just that their focus is on staying healthy and situating themselves for a nice, long playoff run. They could easily start the season 2-3 with losses to New Orleans, Utah and Portland but I doubt Pop would worry too much.
So remember, when the Spurs go through a slow spell early on and are out of sync, it’s okay. Think big picture and know that this team is designed for a deep playoff run, not having the best record at the end of November.