Spurs Off-Season Recap
The NBA season doesn’t officially begin until October 27th, but the pre-season action is now underway. The Spurs will take on the Houston Rockets tonight in their pre-season opener before facing Olympiakos on Friday. That’s right, folks, Olympiakos. Please try to contain your enthusiasm. We’ll get to those games in due time, but for now, let’s look at what the Spurs did over the summer.
After being KO’d by the Dallas Mavericks in the first round last season, something had to be done. Relying on Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili’s ankles is too risky and hasn’t quite panned out lately, so the Spurs brought in some new blood. First up is Richard Jefferson. RJ played in all 82 games last season compared to Ginobili’s 44 games. He also averaged 19.6 points, 4.6 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game while shooting 81% from the free throw line last season, and he knocked down 116 three-pointers. Any time you can bring in that kind of production without giving up any of your top guys, you’ve done well (to say the least). But wait, there’s more.
The Spurs also managed to land Antonio McDyess, who was wasting away in Detroit. McDyess has a couple of years left in the tank and will fill in nicely next to Duncan. He’s a definite upgrade over Fabricio Oberto and Kurt Thomas who were simply “adequate”. Now don’t get me wrong, Oberto had his moments and Kurt Thomas was a decent defender and rebounder, but McDyess nearly averaged a double-double last season with 9.8 rebounds and 9.6 points. That’s more than a little better than the 2.6 rebounds and 2.6 points per game Oberto was offering, or the 5.1 rebounds and 4.3 points per game that Thomas was managing. Kurt Thomas was an OK defender, but he only had 58 blocks in 79 games last season compared to 50 blocks in 62 games last season for McDyess. Do I need to go on? It’s not a massive upgrade, but it’s significant.
Next up is Keith Bogans. Bogans has been bouncing around for a minute after being traded to Milwaukee from Orlando last season, and now he has found a home in San Antonio. He’s your average bench guy, capable of hitting some big shots or just warming the bench for weeks on end. He did hit 74 treys last season though, and averaged 5.6 points per game. The biggest problem with Bogans is that he shoots poorly, hitting just 37% from the field last season. Maybe coach Popovich can get better effort and decision-making out of him.
The Spurs also brought in Theo Ratliff with a one-year deal, presumably to shore up the frontcourt a little more. It wasn’t a bad move, since they get a decent shot-blocker for mad cheap (less than a mil). They also added DeJuan Blair, from Pittsburgh, with a second round pick in the draft. Blair averaged 15.7 points, 12.3 rebounds, 1.5 steals and a block last year for the Panthers. At 6-7 he’s a little undersized for a power forward, but so is Paul Millsap, so we’ll see. He could be a steal, and it shouldn’t be too hard for him to find playing time behind McDyess and Duncan.
Other additions include Malik Hairston, Marcus Haslip, Dwayne Jones and Curtis Jerrells. The only one that I think has a chance to stick is Jerrells, but it’s hard to see him being relevant this year.
Now the other major change to the Spurs this season is the departure of former defensive specialist Bruce Bowen. He was largely a non-factor last season, so it was time to say goodbye.
Of course, Duncan, Parker and Ginobili will all be returning as well as Michael Finley, Roger Mason, George Hill and Matt Bonner.
From a fantasy basketball perspective, Duncan remains at least a 2nd round pick, while Parker is still a good value in as early as round 4, but keep an eye on him this pre-season since he hurt his ankle playing for France over the summer. Ginobili is too much of an injury risk, so I would avoid him altogether, but if he’s still out there by round 5 or 6, then snatch him up since he’s at least good for a trade. Jefferson is going to take a hit since he will not be able to put up 20 points a night while sharing the rock with Duncan, Parker and Ginobili, but he’s still worth spending a 6th round pick on. McDyess is worth a late round pick, and Finley and Mason are good enough to take a flier on with one of your other late picks.
I’ll leave it at that for now, but check back soon for pre-season recaps.
Date: October 6, 2009