With only 2 preseason games left, the Spurs are happy to have a healthy team. Ginobili and Duncan are getting back into game shape, Parker's ankle is completely healed, DeJuan Blair's ACL-less knees are strong enough to help him grab those boards. Jefferson is getting to his comfort zone, McDyess looked steady as ever and Coach Pop is getting intense with the Spurs practices as he prepares the team for the regular season.
This is probably one of the most exciting season for the Spurs. Even Tony Parker is eager to see the Spurs' new look roster which includes newcomers Richard Jefferson, Antonio McDyess, Theo Ratliff, Keith Bogans and rookie DeJuan Blair.
Parker said. "The next game is going to be pretty good to see where we're at."
With a lot of new additions and tremendous upgrade in talent, it's easy to say that the Spurs are back in title hunt. At least on paper, I would certainly agree.
But some people (or most depending on whom you ask) are quick to react and say that Jefferson is past his prime, His athletic ability diminished and that he will have trouble guarding big time players like Kobe, LeBron and D-Wade. While in McDyess case, they'd say that he's simply too old to be able contribute to the Spurs title hopes.
Well in my humble opinion, the Spurs are pretty much in good shape right now. When they made the trade for Jefferson, they didn't expect him to provide 20 points and become Bowen's replacement as the team's defensive stopper. They simply expect him to be an additional threat on offense, play some defense and provide athleticism at the 3 spot.
His performance this preseason is not quite impressive. But it's encouraging, specially in his last game where he showed what he can do on offense.
In McDyess, the Spurs finally got another big that can really play next to Tim Duncan. While age is a factor, it's important to note that Dice does not rely much on his athleticism. He plays with his smarts and basketball instincts, the aspects of his game that I really like are his reliable mid range jumper and his box-out mentality. And he works hard on every play.
What about Blair? So far the guy has been very impressive. He can definitely rebound and score, a hard worker and a quick learner. More importantly he enjoys playing, his passion for the game is evident, and he has the right attitude. That's not to mention the he is quickly becoming a Spurs fan favorite.
While Ratliff and maybe Bogans to a lesser extent are good additions. Ratliff can still defend, His shot blocking ability is still there and his presence on the Spurs' locker room together with Dice and TD will help the young bigs develop and learn faster.
And unpopular this may seem, but I'm giving Bogans a little more time. Some guys can quickly adjust to the system, for others it takes a while. He's an NBA veteran that has proven to be dependable backup. If he can get back to that, it would definitely boost the Spurs' depth at the 3 and 2 spots.
I'm not saying that the Spurs success mainly rely on these guys. It still begins and ends with the 'Big three'. But there is no doubt in my mind that with these key additions, the Spurs' chances of winning the title this coming season has improved a whole lot.
One thing that the Spurs should focus on besides being healthy, is team chemistry. While the talent in the Spurs lineup is pretty obvious, getting the players in the same page so to speak takes a little while.
As Coach Pop would say it,"the chemistry between the new Spurs and old Spurs — the learners and returners, is still a work in progress."
The road to success takes time, it's a process. The Spurs are smart enough to know this. A championship team is not built over night, you need to take steps on the right directions to attain your goal.
For now, as the season approaches; being healthy and having 'new weapons' to throw at the oppossing teams should be enough. The Spurs are in the right path, one step at a time and they'd get there...