POWER FORWARD – a position once dominated by Tim Duncan. But now with smaller, quicker more athletic players in the league the days of the having a 7-foot power forward and forming twin towers is all but over. Over the last few years the Spurs have made offensive and defensive changes to adjust to a changed NBA.
Antonio McDyess ht 6-9 | last season 5.3 pts 5.4 rbs in 19 mins a game. PLAYOFFS 5.7 pts and 5 rbs in 24 mins a game.
McDyess is a savvy veteran, decent defender, plus he is still somewhat athletic/mobile and can hit the midrange jumper with consistency. In last season’s playoffs Dice did OK, but not nearly what was expected of him. His defense didn’t look very effective against either Memphis big-man Randolph or Gasol. Did McDyess show his age during that series or were the Spurs asking too much from someone his age? Dice will turn 37 next month.
Matt Bonner ht 6-10 | Last season 7.3 pts and 3.6 rbs (45.7% 3pt fg) in 22 mins a game | PLAYOFFS 6.3 pts and 3.2 rbs (33% 3pt fg) in 21 mins a game.
Matt Bonner, aka the ‘Red Rocket’, was lighting it up from downtown for most of the regular season. However, the playoffs were a different story, and the ‘Red Rocket’ missed his targets (his 3pt percentage dropped 12% from the regular season). Matt Bonner is a solid 3pt shooter, but he is no Robert Horry. Robert Horry could miss 2o shots in a row spanning some games and still have the guts to take and make a clutch basket with no problem. Bonner is the reverse. He is 6-10 and can a make a defense pay with his shooting, but his rebounding and overall defense are poor for a player his size playing his position. His defensive rotations are OK, the problem is when he does rotate it doesn’t really bother the offensive player, usually resulting in a foul or and old fashioned three point play. For Gregg Popovich it seems that Bonner’s one plus outweighs his many minuses. As long as he hits threes and rotates on defense (regardless of the result) then he’ll get minutes.
Dejuan Blair ht 6-7 | Last season 8.3 pts and 7 rbs (1.2 stls) in 21 mins a game | PLAYOFFS 4.3 pts and 3.3 rbs in 13 mins a game
Dejuan Blair, solid energy guy. Sadly, the saying ‘energy guy’ usually means you’re lacking in something. In Blair’s case it’s height. Even though he is only 6-7, he was the Spurs 2nd leading rebounder averaging 7 rpg to Duncan’s 9 rpg. He also had a knack for making up for his height by using his quick hands getting at least one steal a game. Blair isn’t great defensively though, and his gambling to get steals also led to easy baskets for the person he was guarding. He doesn’t have a jumpshot, so you can definitely leave him to go double team someone else.
Richard Jefferson ht 6-7 | Last season 11 pts (44% 3pt fg) in 30 mins a game | PLAYOFFS 6.5 pts (35% 3pt fg) in 29 mins a game.
In the 2009-10 season, Richard Jefferson seemed to be the whipping boy for everything that went wrong in that season. Jefferson shocked the world a few times; first by opting out of his contract (worth $15 million) then second by resigning long-term with the Spurs. Third, Jefferson worked out tirelessly with Gregg Popovich during the offseason. Fourth, Jefferson like Bonner, hit an unbelievable percent from behind the arc. Jefferson has many different offensive skills and is athletic. With the Spurs he is nothing but a knockdown shooter that can drive (when necessary). He also is not the defender that the old 08-09 Bruce Bowen was. In the playoffs he hit a decent amount of his 3pt shots (35%), but overall his scoring average and field goal percentage was not nearly good enough to overcome the beating that the Spurs interior defense was taking.
Kawhi Leonard ht 6-7 | 2010-11 stats from San Diego st. 15.5 pts and 10.6 rbs (1.4 stls) in 33 mins a game.
The Spurs traded a fan/Pop favorite George Hill to acquire Leonard. Leonard has an athleticism the Spurs haven’t seen since…??? Well, you get the idea. They haven’t!! He is a solid rebounder, a raw defender, and he is young (21). He doesn’t have a consistent jumpshot and tends to gamble on defense. With some work and dedication to the system, Leonard can be a priceless piece on the Spurs roster. He can (hopefully) play/defend the 3/4 position that has given the Spurs problems over the years. He seems athletic enough to guard the hybrid forwards (Gerald Wallace, Josh Smith) that a lot of teams have today.
ANALYSIS: The Spurs have good shooting and experience at the Power forward position. The height, defense and stability are an issue. To explain, not every team can boast that they have the best 3pt shooting big man in the league. At the same time none of the players the Spurs have can play 30-35 mins a game for a full 82 games+ playoffs. McDyess is too old, Blair is too short, and Bonner – aside from being a very poor rebounder – has a number of issues defensively. At Small Forward the Spurs have two unknowns. Leonard was good in college, but what about the NBA? Jefferson is a slasher and finisher, and not a natural 3pt shooter even though his percentage was high last season, so you can’t expect him to be like Bruce Bowen from the corner all season. If the Spurs are expecting him to produce consistently and maximize his potential, then it is vital that they run a decent number of plays for him on a nightly basis. Him coming off curls, and getting a few post up opportunities a few times every game should do the trick. To solidify the PF position the Spurs have a few free agent and trade options. What the Spurs want is a magical 6-11 big-man who is young, mobile, can rebound, defend, oh and my personal favorite – be able to shoot from a good distance. They’re not gonna get all that in one player. However, they do have a few options in that position to look at acquiring: Carl Landry and Kris Humphries. Either guy can come in and play lengthy minutes at the PF position because of their age and abilites. Next week, we’ll look at the Center position.
Date: August 22, 2011