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NBA: The San Antonio Spurs Specialty - Flying Under the Radar


PhilBoxing.com



Popovich (L) at this year's FIBA World Cup.

Boracay Island, Philippines – San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich will be fresh off leading the worst FIBA World Cup of Basketball performance for Team USA in the tournament’s history at 7th place. Up-and-comer Derrick White joined him on that disappointing campaign.


It may be recalled that Popovich was in a similar situation way back in 2002, although only as an assistant to then head coach George Karl, when Team USA finished 6th place on home soil.

He was also an assistant coach to Larry Brown’s Team USA that took home the bronze medal in the Olympic Games in Athens a couple of years later. Tim Duncan, Popovich’s budding superstar then, was also part of that team of NBA talents expected to bring home the bacon.

However, there are some things that usually slip a basketball follower’s mind in relation to those dismal team USA performances involving Gregg Popovich – which team won the NBA crown immediately after each of those Team USA debacles.

You guessed it right! Gregg Popovich’s San Antonio Spurs went on to win both 2003 and 2005 NBA championships. This time around, it wouldn’t be far-fetched to expect the same outcome, would it?

Drawing parallels with the 2003 NBA champions, this upcoming Spurs roster will feature a new starting point guard in DeJounte Murray, who is coming off a year’s worth of absence due to an ACL injury that sidelined him for the entirety of last season.

Way back in 2002 it was would-be Spurs legend Tony Parker who took over starting point guard duties from Avery Johnson, who signed a free agent deal with the Denver Nuggets in 2001. Parker, for his part also played one season for the Charlotte Hornets on a free agent deal he signed in 2018, prior to announcing his retirement last June.

Murray is basically taking on the cudgels from the Frenchman, just like Parker did for Johnson then. This passing of the torch to Murray once again spurs a new era of Spurs basketball, right along with Derrick White.

DeMar Derozan may start at SG alongside Murray on the backcourt, but expect a Murray-White combo to be employed by Popovich on some stretches. It would be nightmare for opposing guards, as both players are arguably among the league’s defensive elites.

But wait… the parallels don’t stop there! Way back in 2002, a certain international player by the name of Manu Ginobili joined the Spurs. Fast forward to the present, the 2019-2020 Spurs will be showcasing a 19-year-old 6’11” Luka Samanic, who boasts of guard-like ball handling and passing skills, solid defense, excellent shooting, and basketball IQ that belies his age.


L-R: DeMar Derozan, Rudy Gay, Lamarcus Aldridge and Patty Mills spearhead this season's San Antonio Spurs.

At the wings, the Spurs will be laden with veterans with 3-point-range in Marco Belinelli, Rudy Gay, DeMarre Caroll, and Trey Lyles. Supporting the backcourt are sharpshooters in Patty Mills, Bryn Forbes, and the vastly improved Lonnie Walker IV.

The frontcourt isn’t too shabby either. Albeit probably on a much lesser degree, Jakob Poeltl will most likely take the role Fabricio Oberto took back in the day, just as LaMarcus Aldridge takes on Tim Duncan’s role for those championship squads.

The Spurs also have young guns who could spur a surprise in Keldon Johnson, Quinndary Weatherspoon, Chimezie Metu, and Drew Eubanks.

While the rest of the NBA have made blockbuster acquisitions left and right, San Antonio, as always, has opted to operate under the radar. Time and time again, the Spurs have been vastly underrated and overlooked by scribes, fans, and pundits alike. In this world, nothing could be certain, except death and taxes… and then there were the Spurs. When will we ever learn?


Comments are highly appreciated. You may send them to reylanloberternos@yahoo.com.ph and you may follow @reylan_l on twitter.


Click here to view a list of other articles written by Reylan Loberternos.


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