If you’ve read pretty much anything on here, you should know I’ve never been a huge fan of the San Antonio Choir Boys. There’s just something about the kind of sustained excellence and utter lack of charisma that leads itself a lot more to a sort of grudging respect than any kind of “Oh my God change the channel, Kawhi Leonard almost cracked a smile!!” I mean, last year these guys were almost as low as #25.
So what happened? Well maybe just a little someone named Lamarcus Aldridge (sorry, couldn’t help myself right there). All put-backs aside, what makes this so interesting is not just how incredible Aldridge has been over the last 4 or 5 years in Portland as a guaranteed 20 and 10 guy, but that he plays a style of offense which could be considered distinctly “un-Spursian”. I mean look at LA’s post moves. Impeachable swag yes, but when you’re playing for a team where the coach will bench you for holding onto the ball for more than two seconds asking for nine or ten ISO clear out plays a game is just not going to fly. While Aldridge is, and was likely recruited as, an eventual heir to the Tim Duncan throne of perfection the two are still sharing the court together, and I thought it would be a lot of fun to watch that joining of the worlds take place.
It’s still a work in progress. Surprisingly, the two have meshed best on the defensive end of the court where Aldridge’s lateral quickness has served as an excellent complement to Duncan’s still unbelievable post defense. This was likely a surprise to a lot of pundits; LA has never been considered a defensive stopper and the Spurs had to lose Tiago Splitter in order to sign him, who is a strong interior defensive presence and could let Duncan play the 4 position when he was getting banged on by the league’s more premier centers (great link for all the Duncan haters out there). Yeah, na because these Spurs are currently third in the league in defensive efficiency and will be an absolute nightmare when Aldridge starts gelling a little more on the other side of the court.
Which is again one more thing making this team so damn compelling. Look, there’s death, taxes, and Gregg Popovich resting his aging superstars in back-to-backs. Even if the West is more competitive this year with a less injured Thunder team, and homecourt advantage more important than ever after they lost a heartbreaker game 7 last year to Austin Rivers and the Los Angeles Clippers, yeah. Poppovich is resting these guys. The interesting thing here, though, is that the Spurs could be even better when some of these guys sit down. Tony Parker is basically a human cicada, with backup Patty Mills playing much better defense and hitting a higher percentage from 3. Manu hitting the pines lets the red-hot Rasual Butler hit the floor who had a crazy season from 3 last year and prompted Nate Duncan to say “Most likely rando to hit a giant shot for the Spurs in the playoffs”. Hell, even Timmy sitting down for the second night of a back-to-back let’s Lamarcus absolutely dominate on the block and have fans see more of super sub, and recently impoverished, David West on the court.
I don’t know if this is ultimately going to be enough to get me to tune in to the Spurs on a nightly basis over my ‘Bockers or the Rockets or Cavs. As curious as I am about the Aldridge experiment and as much as Kawhi’s defense makes him a serious under-the-radar top 10 player, I just can’t imagine that these guys are going to have the kind of star/fire power that makes me feel the need to switch to them over another team. Still, though for a team that has beyond-bored me to tears every single year for the past 5, the simple fact that I am absolutely psyched to see them on the court this season is a huge step in the right direction.