- Created on Saturday, 17 March 2012 06:09
- Last Updated on Thursday, 16 May 2013 07:51
- Written by David Rountree
The San Antonio Spurs made a statement tonight by defeating the Oklahoma City Thunder on the road, and doing so without the services of Manu Ginobili and newly acquired Stephen Jackson. The Spurs showed their depth on the perimeter as their supporting cast picked up the slack and stunned the Thunder.
The San Antonio Spurs front office has always been revered as one of the best in the league because they have an amazing eye for talent. They picked up great players like Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili at the bottom the draft. The team has a knack for finding the right players to fit in their system, and it has made them one of the most successful sports franchises in the last decade.
The Spurs have a depth chart that other teams envy and these unknown players are going to give the Spurs a great boost in the post season.
Gary Neal: Is a player that only has a couple years under his belt but has made his mark for this team already. The Spurs’ guard is absolutely fearless when it comes to shooting the ball at the end of games and has hit big shots in the post season. He was an undrafted player and had to make his way to the NBA the hard way; at 26 years of age he made his debut after a long stint overseas. Also with the retirement of T.J. Ford, Neal will be expected to handle the ball more. This new role will likely provide him with open threes at the top of the arc--he is shooting 39% from the 3-point line this season.
Kawhi Leonard: The Spurs acquired the rookie from the Indiana Pacers for crowd favorite George Hill but it was undoubtedly a great move. Leonard has showed a level of intensity on the defensive end that hasn’t been seen since the days of Bruce Bowen. He is also very athletic around the basket and rebounds well for a small forward. Leonard is leading the team in steals and has worked his way into the starting line-up on many occasions. Recently against the Thunder he harassed Kevin Durant forcing him into several uncharacteristic turnovers (5). Leonard finished the game with 3 steals and 15 points.
Dejuan Blair: He is known as the college center that has no ACL ligaments in either of his knees and because of this the Spurs were the only team to take a chance with him. Their investment continues to pay off, Blair, listed at 6 feet/5 inches, has been the Spurs starting center for the entire season. Which is not an easy feat considering the play of the much taller Tiago Splitter. Blair destroyed the Thunder on the offensive boards and his hustle plays led to 22 points for the night. Per Coach Popovich’s request, Blair has maintained a healthy weight and has improved his offense around the bucket. It is amazing that he was able to outplay the Oklahoma City Thunder’s huge frontline.
Danny Green: He was a small forward that was banished to the bench on the worst team in the league last season, the Cleveland Cavilers. Now with the San Antonio Spurs he has found a home and a role. Coach Popovich has infused the small forward with a high level of confidence and it has helped his shooting stroke. Against the Thunder Green shot five of six from the 3-point line and hit timely shots to hold off a Thunder run. He topped off his night with a timely steal to put the game out of reach, adding to the four he already had. Green is a player that plays hard on both ends of the floor and continues to give the Spurs a new level of athleticism. He is shooting 39% from the 3-point line for the season.