The Bad News About the San Antonio Spurs

Ugly uniforms, pretty offense.

The Spurs had the league’s best offense last season (both in terms of Wins Produced and in Offensive Rating) And until the Western Conference Finals, they looked like an unbeatable juggernaut. What was the secret of their success? Their amazing offense. Last season the Spurs earned 110.9 points per 100 possesions. which was first in the league by over a point! Their defense was above average but nothing special.

The claim we’ve heard forever with the Spurs is that their window is closing (which has apparently been the case since 2008) This makes sense. The Spurs that won the title in 2007 were lead by Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker and they aren’t getting any younger. But let’s take a look at where the Spurs got their offense last season.

A reminder, offensive wins are wins earned from shooting, assists, turnovers and offensive rebounds. The values shown are wins above average earned by every player in terms of this.

2011-2012 Offensive Wins for San Antonio Spurs

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Is age really a concern? Yes, Manu Ginobili was great on offense, in spite of injuries. Yet we can see the Spurs were lead mostly by young and cheap players. Kawhi Leonard (21) and Danny Green (24) are both on the books for the next three seasons for peanuts. Tiago Splitter is a mere $4 million next season and a restricted free agent after. Even Boris Diaw and Tony Parker are only 30 next season. And of that bunch, only Tony Parker is actually costing the team anything. So the Spurs are lead by group of mostly young and affordable players.

As for Tim Duncan? He did manage to salvage his season and play productively. However, I was shocked to find that not only was he terrible on offense but he was the worst offensive player on the Spurs!. It turns out Tim Duncan was shooting below average and he was far below average on pulling down offensive boards. Now, to reiterate, on the whole Tim Duncan was helping the Spurs win. Additionally, the Spurs had the best offense in the league in spite of a lagging Duncan. So, even if he falls off the cliff ever more next season, it seems unlikely that their offense will suffer that much.

The Spurs tore through the league last season. They did this on the back of an amazing offense. A fun fairy tale for fans of other teams in the west is to say the Spurs can’t keep it up because it was all Tim Duncan and age will keep the Spurs down. Except, that’s not the case. The Spurs have a team of young and cheap players doing amazing on offense. And those players will be back next season. Sorry for the bad news.


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