interesting article (especially with the spurs in the top 5)
5. SAN ANTONIO SPURS
The obvious question: Can the old guys still carry the load for a championship team?
There’s not much original to say here. Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili are into their mid-30s, and both of them — along with Tony Parker – battled various injuries last season. Again, we can only wait and watch.
The meatier question: Do the Spurs need to overhaul their formula?
The Spurs have won the same way for a decade: with low-risk basketball. On offense, they want one good shot. That means no turnovers and (mostly) no crashing the offensive glass for fear of giving up a transition bucket on the other end. On defense, they want to force you into taking one bad shot. They don’t gamble for steals, and they don’t give you second chances.
The Spurs stretched that model to its breaking point two years ago, when they ranked last in offensive rebounding, drawing fouls on offense and forcing turnovers on defense. They topped the league in the opposite categories — defensive rebounding, protecting the ball and avoiding fouls. It was low-risk hoops, as if implemented by a computer system.
The team made small movements away from those extremes last season, and they may have to continue on that path if they want to challenge the Lakers and the East’s elite. Their personnel demands it. DeJuan Blair pushed the Spurs above the league average in offensive rebounding last season for the first time since 2004-05, when they were right at the league average mark. Blair and George Hill can both swipe the ball on defense, and Hill is a demon of a finisher on the break. Richard Jefferson, once a slasher (I swear!), attempted a career-low 4.1 free throws per 36 minutes last season; the Spurs need that number to jump back up, or their four-year, $38.9 million commitment to Jefferson will be a sunk cost. Parker and Ginobili, if healthy, should get to the line more