We’ve been there every year since 2007 – the San Antonio Spurs somehow stays forgotten every time we predict who will win the NBA championship. At the end of the season, the Spurs then have to remind everyone they are still contenders.
After their second sweep in this year’s playoffs, the Spurs have made it to the NBA finals after six years and while the Miami Heat just finished battling the Indiana Pacers, they now have to worry about Tim Duncan and company already. Considering the Spurs are the hottest team in these playoffs, the Finals should be fun as hell.
In the series against the Memphis Grizzlies, the Spurs have always been a step forward. Tony Parker, the French point guard for the Spurs, has once again shown he can get into the lane whenever he decides to. From there he can not only score against bigger defenders (no question both Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph are big, still it didn’t matter for Parker) but, more importantly, kick the ball out and hit an open teammate – Danny Green and Kawhi Leonard shoot 43% and 41%, respectively, from the three-point line in these playoffs.
In last game of the series, Parker scored 37 points and added six assists to send the Grizzlies fishing. In that game Parker was once again a little bit better than in the previous one – the formula he has embraced as well as anybody in the league in the last two years. It’s great to see that Parker again, the Tony Parker who was an NBA Finals MVP in 2007. Every NBA fan should be thankful for his separation with Eva Longoria, Parker has not been the same player again, in a good way.
The Spurs, like Parker, are arguably underrated. Maybe people got really bored of this same Parker, Duncan, Ginobili trio or maybe it’s just those awful grey uniforms that puts this team at the bottom of everyone’s attention. But the truth is, there is no other team in the league besides them and Miami who can offer everything a championship team must have, meaning great coach, various offensive weapons, reliable defensive system and a solid bench.
San Antonio would not have been where it is without their role players, no matter how MVP-like Parker has performed. Watching guys like Green, Diaw and Leonard leaves us wondering if they would be that good if they were stuck with teams like Charlotte Bobcats or Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Kawhi Leonard phenomenon is the most significant. In the 2011 draft, he was reprehensibly overlooked by many teams, including the Washington Wizards, who selected Jan Vesely as number six (as a Czech, I will never stop wondering how Vesely’s career would look like if he was at Leonard’s place right now, meaning the Spurs).
The Spurs have proved they are a top organization in terms of scouting and prospecting. Plus coach Popovich is one of the best in the business when it comes to a non-star player development. Remember, Danny Green was a bench warmer during his Cleveland Cavaliers days. Now he and Leonard are the centerpieces of the Spurs’ rotation.
Nobody believed the Spurs could beat Memphis in just four games. Keep that in mind when you predict the NBA Finals a couple of days from now. The Heat are still the very best team in basketball, but they will face a group of guys who have discovered every single piece of the puzzle now.