Contributed by Mike Gallagher
There is no team in the NBA that is expected to take such a steep slide from being a contender as the San Antonio Spurs.
Their elite players are all past their primes and the best player in the history of their franchise, Tim Duncan, is certainly in the twilight of his career.
Tim Duncan could be restructuring his deal and opt out of his last year. San Antonio would undoubtedly use that money to acquire a free agent to help them in the front court. The Big Fundamental played great this regular season and even played in 76 games this season. Duncan finished as the 39th-best player across eight cats with 28.4 MPG.
While this sounds great and all, Duncan’s ADP should plummet from the 30.3 he had back in October. Duncan is a player that should not go before the seventh round in standard leagues for the fear of being benched as the Spurs gear up for the postseason. Personally, I haven’t owned Duncan in about 50 of the previous leagues in the past six years or so. It sounds funny to say, but guys like Serge Ibaka should be drafted before Tim Duncan in every league.
Tony Parker is another player that exceeded expectations before being snake bit by a minor calf injury back in February. While he was expected to miss several weeks, he was able to get back on the court in just five short days, so it wasn’t a venomous snakebite.
Parker had an ADP of 73 and outplayed that number with solid contributions to points and assists and adding a career-high 1.2 steals per contest. Parker’s bread and butter still held strong with his 51 percent made from the field over the most games played in a season since the ’05-’06 season (78). Parker will turn 29 later this month and it’s going to be to imagine he can keep pace with the tremendous season he had, by my standards.
Manu Ginobili is turning 34 this summer. That’s not really a good number for sports unless you’re talking about the jersey number of the pitcher that toes the rubber in Seattle or PPG for an NFL team. Ginobili came out like gangbusters as he always does and fizzled out slowly buy surely as the season progressed. The main reason for this decline is good ol’ Pop. Manu remained fairly healthy this season with a career-high in games played paired with his second-highest MPG of his career. This led to Manu being the 17th-best player across eight cats. 17! Manu’s ADP was at 59 last year and that figures to hold steady despite the breakout season in the minutes log.
Their big trio is on the decline, so with every loss in fantasy there’s gain, right? Well, not so much. The Spurs are built around these guys and while we like to think of this one offseason is equal to about four or five, things shouldn’t change too much. Most people, self included, thought that all three of the main Spurs would hit the wall with all the miles on their tires, yet all three cleared the projected games played by at least five games.
The same people we’ve been saying all season to pick up figure to get the most pub as sleepers next year. It feels like I’ve been talking about Hills as much as a landscaper or real estate agent in Waiver Wire Scoops and he once again figures to be a player to target at the end of weekly leagues as a player to stash. George Hill has the full arsenal and serves basically as a double-handcuff player for Manu and Tony.
DeJuan Blair was about not exactly the one in the offseason. He logged two DNPCDs in the final two games of the season against Memphis. Oddly enough the Spurs are gone fishing thanks largely in part to their lack on interior defense. Blair became a very hot pickup as he registered eye-catching numbers in February. Blair played 26.3 MPG, scored 11.8 PPG, boarded 8.8 RPG, and swatted 0.7 BPG. This begs the question of whether the heavy load took a toll on his weak knees thanks essentially to his lack ACLs. There were no reports of an injury, so this certainly takes a bit of the luster of thinking DeJuan Blair is a sleeper for next season.
Gary Neal and Richard Jefferson could become more important cogs in the offense, but it’s obviously going to take a catastrophic offseason with a multitude of injuries or trade requests. Neither of those are likely at all.
The Spurs are going to be looking for Duncan’s replacement in the draft and he will become a very sexy sleeper by the San Antonio naysayers the moment David Stern calls his name. Don’t believe me? Tiago Splitter was on a lot of sleeper lists for the way he performed at the FIBA World Championships. While the player the Spurs take will not be on such a big stage, the hype should be just as high given dB’s lack of creating decibels in the postseason and Duncan being a year older. Not to mention Mr. Splitter’s underwhelming rookie season.
As the Spurs head into the offseason, it’s very unlikely many people can make a case any of their players being on the preface of a breakout campaign in 2011-2012.