During the 2016-17 NBA season, headlines will be dominated by Kevin Durant and the Golden State Warriors on a daily basis. However, having a super-team doesn’t guarantee a championship; just look at the 2012-13 Los Angeles Lakers. Everything can change and anything can happen in the NBA. A team can implode, the injury bug could strike, or a team simply might not play to its potential. In this Last Word On Pro Basketball series, we’ll break down which two key factors will determine the fate of each team in the upcoming season.
In this edition, we’ll take a look at the San Antonio Spurs.
Two Key Factors to a Successful San Antonio Spurs Season
First Key: Increased Production from LaMarcus Aldridge
The San Antonio Spurs won 67 games in the 2015-16 season, which was their best winning percentage in the franchise’s 49th season. However, the Spurs fell short in the conference semifinals against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Following their season, longtime captain and legend Tim Duncan retired after his 19-year career. The Spurs also lost David West who signed with the Golden State Warriors and Boban Marjanovic who signed with the Detroit Pistons.
Aldridge was a great addition last season and did not play poorly. However, Aldridge’s production was down from past years. Aldridge averaged over 23 points per game the last two seasons playing for the Portland Trailblazers. For the Spurs, Aldridge only averaged 18 points per game. Aldridge also did not average in double figures rebounding for the first time in three years.
Now that Duncan has retired and Aldridge has a year of experience with the team, the Spurs will need Aldridge to step up and increase his production.
Second Key: Free Agents Must Make an Impact
The losses of Duncan, West and Marjanovic will be tough to replace and hurt the Spurs’ vaunted depth. The Spurs did sign Pau Gasol from the Chicago Bulls and David Lee from the Dallas Mavericks.
Gasol and Lee have big shoes to fill and have to gel quickly with the Spurs to keep up with the loaded Warriors team. Both player are experienced veterans who have been able to blend in well with team concepts. This will be important for a Spurs team that plays some of the best team ball in the league.
If Aldridge can improve from last year and the free agent additions Lee and Gasol play well and make an impact, the Spurs will have two of the keys that they need to succeed this season.
BERLIN, GERMANY – OCTOBER 08: Tony Parker (R) of San Antonio is challenged by Reggie Redding of Berlin during the NBA Global Games Tour 2014 match between Alba Berlin and San Antonio Spurs at O2 World on October 8, 2014 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Boris Streubel/Bongarts/Getty Images)