Veteran guard Manu Ginobili expects the San Antonio Spursto start off slower than normal this season with starting point guard Tony Parker and star forward Kawhi Leonard missing important cohesion time in the preseason while recovering from injuries. Ginobili said: “We are not going to start full throttle. We’re not going to start as ready to compete as in previous years. But we’ll figure it out.”
San Antonio is coming off back-to-back seasons with 60 or more wins for the first time in franchise history. The Spurs announced that Leonard would miss the remainder of the preseason as he “continues a rehabilitation program for right quadriceps tendinopathy.” Ginobili added: “In a way, it kind of helps to get the other players more involved, more confident, having more shots. But we know [this is] not the team we’re going to be. So [the absence of Leonard and Parker] it helps in some ways. But we need to play with [Leonard] because he’s our go-to guy. He’s the one that carries the load offensively. We need to adjust to play with him again. It is very unfortunate that he’s not been able to be with us or to play in the preseason. We are building, of course, and hopefully we get him back quickly.”
The same destiny is following the biggest summer acquisition, Rudy Gay, who still hasn’t made his preseason debut. Gay ruptured his left Achilles tendon playing for the Kings last season. Although he’s been medically cleared to play and is participating in practices, Popovich has said the team will maintain a conservative stance on his return. On the same subject Patty Mills said: “This is a marathon. Everyone understands that. So, no expectations.” Gay averaged 21.1 points two seasons ago for the Kings, and he’s expected to bring additional offense to San Antonio. The Spurs haven’t yet figured out Gay’s role or where he will play in the rotation, and he may not receive much time in the preseason with his new teammates to carve out his role. Ginobili concluded: “For sure, it’s not I’m saying we should hurry things up. We all wish to be healthy all the time, and it doesn’t happen like that. So, not having [Leonard] and Tony, it’s important, or Rudy. Rudy is practicing. He’s almost ready. But he’s still cautious, and he’s been out for seven months. So he’s going to take his time, too.”
NBA GM’s gave the following observation:
George was voted as the offseason acquisition that will have the most impact this season. The results were as follows: Paul George: 59 percent; Jimmy Butler: 17 percent; Chris Paul: 10 percent; Kyrie Irving: 7 percent. Kevin Durant and Paul Millsap also received votes. This may very well be true. George was a great acquisition for Oklahoma City and provides them with a two-way presence on the wing they simply didn’t have to go along with Westbrook last season.
Markelle Fultz did not receive one vote for rookie of the year. The results were as follows: Lonzo Ball: 62 percent; Ben Simmons: 24 percent; Dennis Smith, Jr.: 7 percent. De’Aaron Fox and Jayson Tatum both received votes as well. No one having confidence in the No. 1-overall pick of the draft winning rookie of the year seems silly. Heading into the draft, Fultz was considered by many to be far and away the best player in the draft class, despite not making the NCAA tournament.
Russell Westbrook did not receive one “Most Likely To Win MVP” vote. The results were as follows: LeBron James: 50 percent; Kevin Durant: 29 percent; Kawhi Leonard: 11 percent; James Harden: 7 percent; Stephen Curry: 4 percent. Right off the bat, we’re getting into controversial territory. Russell Westbrook, the reigning MVP who just averaged a triple double (the first in the NBA in decades), did not receive one vote projecting him to repeat as MVP this season.
The results for which player GMs would pick to start a franchise with today were as follows: Karl-Anthony Towns: 29 percent; Giannis Antetokounmpo: 21 percent; LeBron James: 18 percent; Kawhi Leonard: 14 percent; Kevin Durant: 11 percent. Both Stephen Curry and Anthony Davis received votes as well. This is all reasonable. Towns taking a majority of the vote here isn’t surprising — 48 percent of GMs voted for him last season. What is surprising, though, is how close Antetokounmpo is to Towns now after not being considered last season.