SAN ANTONIO, IT’S TIME TO ‘TANK’ THE SEASON

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San Antonio may need the draft to get another team this good

San Antonio Spurs are now in the most critical period of their franchise history since they selected Tim Duncan with the first pick of the 1997 NBA Draft; that singular move that turned a team with a 20-62 record into 56-26 team a year later, and NBA Champions two seasons after the Duncan draft.

The rumour is that Gregg Popovich, the man who took over the Spurs in 1996 – after the team finished with a 59-23 record, tanked the season to get the 20-62 record that put the team in prime position to land Duncan. Whether the rumour is true or not, one thing is clear: the 20-62 record remains the worst in Spurs history, and it followed hugely successful seven previous season that San Antonio topped the Midwest Division four times and were 2nd three times. The lowest they have fallen since then was the 3rd in the Southwest of the 2014/15 season. So, here are the thoughts…

The stars of San Antonio Championship teams were from the draft: Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, Kawhi Leonard, all Spurs’ Finals MVP’s were ‘home grown’, and most are ageing now. It is time to hit the reset button again, and look for another gem in the draft. This is because…

The picks from the last few seasons have not hit the expected heights. Apart from the flashes of genius, none of the draft picks of the past few years, apart from Kawhi, have shown the type of promise required to lead a Championship team. The success of the Spurs over the past years, mean the best talents were gone before it’s their turn to select. Ginobili and Parker were inspired selections, but that hasn’t happened in a while, so Spurs need to find a way to draft higher…

And that way is to shut down this season, and forget the playoffs. The reasons are simple; there is no chance Spurs can win this year, Warriors and Rockets are just too strong. And there is nothing to prove by qualifying for the playoffs, only to be brushed aside in the first round. There is no reason to ‘rush’ Kawhi back anymore, let him restart from training camp next year; the same applies to LaMarcus Aldridge, who is out injured. Spurs will be better served if the two players sit out the rest of the season, because…

That will put the Spurs in a win-win situation. If the trend of play continues like this, they will end up in the lottery, and have the chance to snag one player from the rich class of 2018, another player to build with. That player can then, do what Duncan did for David Robinson, what Parker and Ginobili did for Duncan, and what Kawhi did for Duncan: help win another Championship. In addition, if Spurs sit Kawhi and Aldridge, it will enable the youngsters get valuable playing experience; Lakers sat and are still sitting Luol Deng, and the young players are benefitting.

Finally, Gregg Popovich and San Antonio will need a way to get younger. The move to give Dejounte Murray more playing time is brilliant, Bryn Forbes, Kyle Anderson, Derrick White are promising, but Spurs need one more explosive talent; and one of these, or a draft pick, will have to fill that void next season, and some of the ageing ones will have to retire.

 

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