Michael De Leon, Project Spurs
The Spurs brought in the exact pieces they needed this offseason. They addressed the need for a center by bringing over Brazilian big man Tiago Spliter and the Spurs realized that three-point shooting was a weakness in last year’s playoffs and worked on a cure by drafting James Anderson, re-signing Matt Bonner and signing Gary Neal to a multi-year contract after a surprising summer league showing. Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili all look to be in great shape after an offseason free of any international play. George Hill also looks to have a breakout year and DeJuan Blair has done enough this preseason to get me excited. The Spurs will finish 54-28 and it’ll be a tossup in the Western Conference Finals between the Spurs and the Lakers.
Jeff Garcia, Project Spurs
Prediction: 55-27, second in Southwest Division
A quiet youth movement has been going on in San Antonio (Tiago Splitter, James Anderson, George Hill, DeJuan Blair) to compliment the veteran core of Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker in the hopes of bringing another title to the Alamo City.
But will it be enough? No.
With the other Western Conference teams such as the Los Angeles Lakers adding Steve Blake and Matt Barnes to strengthen their already loaded squad, the Dallas Mavericks adding Tyson Chandler to play along side Brendan Haywood to form a formidable duo in the paint, Houston Rockets welcoming the return of Yao Ming, and the Oklahoma City Thunder returning in tact, it will be a tough road back to the promise land of the NBA Finals. Frankly, it seems like a fifth title will not be in the Spurs future this season.
Robby Lim, Project Spurs
The Spurs just got younger, deeper and more athletic. The arrival of Tiago Splitter and the development of DeJuan Blair will make a huge impact. How Jefferson performs in his second season will be key, and it will be interesting to see if George Hill can elevate his game even further.
However, the Spurs will still need Duncan, Ginobili and Parker healthy to get things done. They definitely improved from last season and if rookies James Anderson and Gary Neal fit into their roles then expect another 50+ win season from the Spurs.
SEASON PREDICTION: 52-30 second in West.
Jeff Cerda, Project Spurs
At the beginning of every season every NBA team has the highest expectations for the way their season will play out and the San Antonio Spurs are no different. The Spurs have been a title contender year in and year out since 1998 and fans should not expect anything less in the 2010-2011 season. With Tim Duncan’s hall of fame career winding down this will probably be the last chance the team has at another title. Duncan will still be the player we know with probably a slight drop off in statistics and I believe Tony Parker will have a great season considering this is a “contract year” for him. Manu will be Manu and I think DeJuan Blair’s stats will improve because he will be given more playing time, which he rightfully deserves. Two things to watch for is the play of Richard Jefferson and Tiago Splitter. With a year under Greg Popovich’s system, Jefferson has no “excuses” for the lack of production this year and I think he will definitely be a better player than he was last year. It has been a long wait for Splitter and the fans are hoping that the wait was well worth it. Given Splitter’s international basketball track record, he’s shown signs of brilliant play and the expectations in San Antonio are no less. He may struggle early considering he did not get much playing time in the preseason but I would expect him to be a consistent contributor come January/February. I predict that the Spurs will win more games than last year(50-32 in 2009-2010) and get a 4 or 5 seed in the still competitive western conference. Given the age of Tim Duncan and injuries that seem to always plague the team late in the season, I think they will get out of the first round but fall short in the second round.
Tim Griffin, San Antonio Express-News
The Spurs will play better early, even as Tiago Splitter struggles early to regain game shape. That early start and a rejuvenated Richard Jefferson will boost them to a 55-27 record and a Southwest regular-season title. They will beat Portland in the first round of the playoffs, but lose to Oklahoma City in the Western Conference semifinals.
Joe Alexander, San Antonio Express-News
I think the Lakers are likely be in for the kind of nagging injuries all season that the Spurs had last year. If the Lakers are healthy at the end, they’ll still win the West. If things were going normally in Denver, the Nuggets would be my No. 2 pick. Their issues go beyond just Carmelo’s situation. A healthy Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili and the addition of Tiago Splitter make the Spurs a top four team in the West.