Next up, a San Antonio Spurs team still reeling from coming so close to winning the 2013 NBA Finals.
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Imagine this scenario for an NBA team: they have arguably the best point guard in the league, they have the best player of a generation, they have one of the top two head coaches in the game, and they were one free throw or defensive rebound away from being NBA champions in 2013.
â€¨Sounds exciting, right? Wrong. Well, at least when it comes to the San Antonio Spurs. The Spurs are the exact team I just described, and yet they are still viewed as the most uninteresting good team in all of sports. The Spurs are consistently a great, great team, and maybe that’s the problem. It almost gets boring watching them do the same thing every year, which consists of winning a bunch of games by playing fundamentally sound basketball.
â€¨It should also be pointed out that these Spurs have never had a really exciting player. Tim Duncan might be a better player than Kobe Bryant, but nobody outside of San Antonio would watch a guy nicknamed “The Big Fundamental” over “Black Mamba.” And it’s not just that the Spurs haven’t had a LeBron James or a Kevin Durant, it’s that they haven’t even had a Rajon Rondo or a Stephen Curry-type player: someone that’s just really, really fun to watch, even for a basketball-watching populace already overloaded with stimuli. [Ed. note: The Spurs ARE fun to watch for lots and lots of people, including us]
â€¨Despite all of that, I’m here to make a case for watching the Spurs this season on League Pass. And, almost surprisingly, things feel much more exciting in San Antonio than usual. Here we go:
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Kawhi Leonard Breaks Out
Kawhi Leonard isn’t just the most intriguing player on the Spurs’ roster, he’s also one of the top three or four players in the entire league that I’m excited to watch this season. Leonard introduced himself to a national audience during the 2013 NBA Finals (he averaged a double-double), and it feels like he’s about to have a coming out party where he evolves into a superstar this year. At 6-7, Kawhi has the full package on the wing: he’s a lockdown defender, he’s a great rebounder, and he can knock down shots from the interior and beyond the arc.
â€¨I know it’s said every single season and that the Spurs continue to prove everyone wrong, but this is an older basketball team. Father Time has already caught up to Manu Ginobili, and Tim Duncan is going to turn 38 next April. Combine that with the fact that the Western Conference is going to be even tougher than usual this year, and one thing is pretty clear: if the Spurs want to return to the NBA Finals in 2014, they’ll need someone new to step up. I fully expect that someone to be Kawhi Leonard. Don’t let me down, Kawhi
Avoiding a Finals Hangover
I hate to ever say that a team choked, but the Spurs should be entering the 2013-14 season as defending champions. They were up on the Heat by four points and were shooting free throws with 28.2 seconds left in Game 6. The series should have been over, right then and there. But the Spurs blew it. They literally did nothing right in those final 30 seconds. Ginobili and Leonard each missed a free throw, Gregg Popovich took Duncan out of the game right before San Antonio allowed Miami to get two crucial offensive rebounds on the final two possessions, and they chose not to foul on the possession when Ray Allen made the game-tying three. It was the worst loss that I’ve ever witnessed during my short lifetime.
â€¨I know this is a team with great veteran leadership and a coach that won’t be dwelling on the past once the season starts, but can they recover? The Spurs were so close to that championship, and it just seemed like that was Duncan’s last real chance to win another one. But maybe I’m wrong and the Spurs will only be more motivated to make up for that heart-wrenching loss. Regardless, it’s sure to be an intriguing storyline to follow.