Even though we’re pretty sure it’ll be Detroit, we don’t know for certain who will win the Eastern Conference. We do know that there is but one team remotely capable (no matter what the standings say) to be number one in the West, and that is the San Antonio Spurs. At 17-3, who in the Western part of America can stop this freight train?
Few teams have ever reached the level of depth the Spurs have now. While the Pistons bench is suspect in length, San Antonio is deep enough to Glenn Robinson on the inactive roster. Michael Finley and Nick Van Exel have done an adequate job along with Barry, Horry, Nesterovic and Beno Udrih backing up the starting five. Other than Robinson, everyone on the bench is playing for cheap money. So not only can San Antonio get a great bench the can afford it.
The starting five is what you’d expect. Duncan, Ginobili and Parker all have to be all-stars, there is no exception. Tony Parker has readjusted his shooting approach to accomplice his penetrating. Ginobili and Duncan are the usual suspects, but how about Bruce Bowen #2 in the League in 3P%. If Tim Duncan came into the league with the same level of hype LeBron James did, Duncan would be getting comparisons to Malone and Abdul-Jabar for greatest big-man.
The Spurs continue their strong defensive tendencies with the 5th least points allowed in the league. There’s been a void at Center since David Robinson left, but the Spurs still are 4th in total rebounding. They are an old team and play at a half-court pace. Nonetheless, it’s odd noting that San Antonio is 29th in the NBA in free-throw attempts. The can get away since they have been making the outside jumpers and are 10th in the NBA in 3P%.
Overall, this is the best team in the Western Conference. The Phoenix Suns will have gained Stoudemire too late in the year to propel them into first place. Both Miami and San Antonio made numerous off-season transactions after having successful 2005 seasons. Miami got players who came for a quickie championship and the money. The Spurs signed players on inexpensive contracts who left their egos at the door. Finley and Van Exel have devoted themselves solely to the championship ring and are playing within the team, something we haven’t seen from the Heat.
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by David Pincus