The San Antonio Spurs had the best record in the regular season in the west last year and they were looking primed to get back to the NBA Finals, but they were mowed down in the playoffs by Oklahoma City in the conference finals. The Spurs, and rightfully so, believe the core group led by the usual suspects of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili have at least another run left in them this upcoming season.
Without a a first-round draft pick, San Antonio opted to stay in-housewhenit came to free-agency. The Spurs re-signed Duncan to a three-year deal for 30-million to finish his career with the team he started it with back in 1997. The 36-year old Duncan still can get it done. He averaged 15 points and 9 rebounds to help the Spurs to a 50-16 record last season.
After putting up 18 points and acareer-high 7 assists last season,Parker is back to run the show as the Spurs point guard.Ginobili is healthy for the upcoming season and that's good news for the Spurs who saw him play in only 34 regular season games last year in which he had his lowest scoring average since 2003-04 at 12.9 points a game.
Players that the Spurs picked up mid-way throughlastseason -- such as Stephen Jackson, Boris Diaw and Patty Mills -- all return. Jackson and Diaw played major minutes in theplayoffsand the team will rely on them again this season for scoring off the bench.
There's just one new face on the roster and that's French guard Nano Colo, who the team drafted back in 2009 and who is finally joining the Spurs. The 6'-5" shooting guard Colo will have to beat out veteran players Gary Neal and Danny Green for playing time. Green got a three-year, 12-million deal to stay with San Antonio. Green had his best season as a pro, averaging 9 points and 3 rebounds last season.
With Duncan, Parker, Ginobili and coach Gregg Popovich back, big things are always expected from the Spurs, but the X factor now could be second-year pro Kawhi Leonard. The 2011 first-round pick by San Antonio is primed to have abiggerseason. Leonard started all 14 playoff games and averaged 9 points and 5 rebounds. The 6'-7" small forward can go inside and out to score and is a lock-down defender.
San Antonio is a year older and wiser, but can they keep up with Oklahoma City or bang with the Lakers and Dwight Howard? The Spurs will definitely be in theplayoffsagain to find out.