The Franchise. From a 1967 launch as the Dallas Chaparrals of the ABA, the San Antonio Spurs began to grace National Basketball Association courts in the 1976-77 Season. Success is primarily attributed to Naismith Hall of Famer George (“Iceman”) Gervin, who in 1996 was named as among the 50 greatest basketball-playing artists of all time.
The Spurs consistently posted winning seasons but were unable to advance beyond a Conference Playoff Series. [Text Wrapping Break]
That all changed in Spring 1989. The coaching of Gregg Popovich blended perfectly with the talents of Rookie of the Year 6’11” power forward Tim Duncan in bringing the first NBA Championship to San Antonio. The two were paired for all of Duncan’s 15-year career as a Spur, in the process bringing home an additional four League Championship banners.
The Present. Home viewership is fewer than 750,000, making San Antonio the third smallest among 30 other NBA markets. The U.S. has eleven metro areas with larger home TV reception. However, to its credit, The Spurs Sports and Entertainment Group, LLC has crafted the Spurs as the 15th most valuable franchise in the League.
Popovich retains the Head Coach reins, assisted by one of seven female NBA Assistants Becky Hammon. She is regarded as a likely successor. Floor leadership in the post-Duncan Era had rested with 31-year-old 12 year NBA veteran point guard 6’6” DeMar de Rozan, whose consistent 85%+ shooting at the free-throw line is an ongoing strength.
A downside contrast is a sub 40% success rate from the 3-point range.
Newcomers. Leading up to the Oct. 19 regular-season Opener, Spurs Front Office had a busy off-season. It featured a trade with Chicago’s Bulls of de Rozan in exchange for Nigerian Native and 2012 Olympian, power forward Al Farouk Aminu.
He is rarely a starter in his dozen NBA Seasons, though he projects to come off the bench again this season, as Popovich will send out this season’s youngest NBA starting quintet. Expected to take the floor at the opening tipoff are:
- Center — Jacob Poeltl, age 25 from Austria, a 63% field goal shooter and strong offensive rebounder;
- Power Forward — Doug McDermott, age 29, a 41% shooter from distance, 62% from inside, and a good passer and set up man for teammates;
- Small Forward — Keldon Johnson, age 22, a hustling high energy force, but needing improvement in mid-range shooting;
- Shooting Guard — Derrick White, age 27, a lockdown defensive specialist still managing 18 points and five assists per game;
- Point Guard — Dejounte Murray, age 25, steadily improving as a shooter, featuring outstanding court vision and shot creation skills.
It has been a while since the Spurs have undergone a significant roster overhaul and rebuilding effort. “Coach Pop” — needing only 26 more to become the winningest coach in NBA history — and staff faces stiff challenges entering the season. Their credentials should bring confidence throughout the ranks of the San Antonio faithful.