We’ve heard this story before. Year after year, the aging of the Spurs’ roster is questioned on whether they can put together another successful season.
Although it seems evident that the Spurs’ roster–which is the fifth oldest in the NBA, and includes a 37-year old Tim Duncan, a 36-year old Manu Ginobli, and a 31-year old Tony Parker–will catch up to them sooner rather than later, that hasn’t been the case. In fact, the Spurs are here to remind us they’re not going anywhere.
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The Spurs have raced out to a 7-1 record through eight games, which is tops in the Western Conference. The Indiana Pacers, now stationed at 8-0 in the Eastern Conference, are the only team in the NBA with a better winning percentage.
Mixed with the team’s veteran leadership is a young nucleus of talented role players that have thrived in head coach Greg Popovich’s schemes. Kawhi Leonard (22 years old) is quickly becoming one of the team’s top scoring threats, while Danny Green (26 years old) continues his spectacular three-point shooting at 47.2% on the season. Patrick Mills (25 years old) and Tiago Splitter (28 years old) have proved to become reliable backups behind Parker and Duncan.
Popovich is limiting Duncan’s minutes early in the season in hopes of a lengthy playoff push. Duncan has already missed two of the Spurs’ eight games, and is playing 27.8 minutes per game, the lowest average of his 17-year career. Still, Duncan remains a reliable piece to the puzzle, averaging 13.3 points and 6.7 rebounds per game.
The main piece of the Spurs’ lineup is without a doubt Parker. He’s putting up All-Star numbers once again, averaging 18.4 points and 6.9 assists per game. He’s what makes the Spurs’ offense, which is averaging 100.4 points per game, run as smooth as possible. The Spurs will go as far as Parker takes them.
Over the past 14 seasons, 50-win seasons have been the benchmark for the Spurs. Since the 1994-95 season when the Spurs went 62-20, San Antonio has won 50 or more games in every season, including a 63-19 mark in 2006. They’ve been to the playoffs in every season since the 1998 campaign, and have failed to earn a postseason appearance just five times in franchise history. It’s still early in 2014, but another 50-win season and playoff appearance is evident.
With 74 games remaining, there’s plenty of time that the Spurs’ roster could catch up to them. But if we’ve learned anything in recent years, don’t expect this Spurs squad to fall much from their current spot as the West’s best team.