NBA back! To prepare for a new season, we’re breaking down one team per day, each day, until tipoff on October 17.
Team: San Antonio Spurs
Coach: Gregg Popovich (22nd season)
Last Season: 61-21 (second in the Western Conference)
Notable Addition: Rudy Gay (free agency) (smh)
Notable Subtraction: Jonathon Simmons (free agency) (smh)
Notable Non-Subtraction: LaMarcus Aldridge (too LaMarcus-y)
Vegas Over/Under: 54.5 wins
Best-Case Scenario: At the moment, the very best-case scenario is that the Spurs lose to the Warriors in the Western Conference finals again, because that would mean that the Spurs would have beaten the Houston Rockets in the second round of the playoffs again, which, if we’re all being completely honest, is the furthest we can stretch without things becoming silly. (The Spurs are the 3-seed. The Rockets are the 2-seed. The Warriors are the 1-seed. And the Thunder are the 4-seed.) (I’m already super fucking pumped for the second round of the Western Conference playoffs.)
However, if there’s an all-caps BEST-CASE SCENARIO, it would be that a fully rested and ready Kawhi Leonard goes on a Scorched Earth Tour that spans all 30 NBA arenas. Tony Parker returns from injury and, improbably, plays like he’s four years younger (perhaps he’s Patient Zero of some pioneering, experimental quadriceps tendon surgery), and so the flow of the offense returns to what we saw in 2014 when they obliterated LeBron’s Heat in the Finals. Dejounte Murray makes the leap. Patty Mills and Danny Green have flamethrower seasons from 3. Manu Ginobili has three huge games late in the playoffs to push the Spurs past the Warriors in a massive upset (Spurs 4-2, with Kawhi scoring the last 12 points of Game 6 to steal the series from the Warriors).
Rudy Gay forgets that he forgot how to play basketball and is an unexpectedly good wild card after Pop slowly integrates him into the system. Pau Gasol falls asleep in the locker room during a pregame meeting in April and nobody bothers to wake him up until June for the parade. And, in what proves to be the most surprising twist, LaMarcus Aldridge goes bonkers in the playoffs and averages something like 31-18 in the Finals as the Spurs beat the Cavaliers in five.
Worst-Case Scenario: It’s a total disaster, and basically the exact opposite of all the stuff above. Kawhi, who we already know is going to miss the preseason because his right thigh is on some bullshit, comes back too early, which turns what was supposed to be a small thing into a gigantic, stupid, lingering, season-killing thing. Tony Parker comes back and looks like he’s running in mud. Patty Mills and Danny Green take turns clanking 3s off that part of the goal where the rim and backboard touch (which is the worst and ugliest place to hit when you’re shooting a 3). Manu Ginobili spends the playoffs playing like that stretch during the 2013 Finals when he thought it was really, really funny to turn the ball over basically every time he touched it. Rudy Gay forgets to remember that he was supposed to forget that he didn’t know how to play basketball because he was too busy arguing with Popovich about how to coach the team. Pau Gasol starts several games in the postseason. And, in what proves to be the most predictable twist, LaMarcus Aldridge LaMarcus Aldridges his way through the playoffs, which is to say he’s great in the games where you don’t necessarily need him to be great and invisible in the ones that you do. (The Spurs lose in the first round to the Minnesota Timberwolves.) (I’m already super fucking sad about the second round of the Western Conference playoffs.)
TL;DR: Another run at the Texas State Championship is seven months away.