San Antonio Spurs Power Rankings: Rating Every Player After First Six Weeks
Since the onset of the 2013-14 season, the San Antonio Spurs have remained a fixture near the top of the power rankings.
Even with a handful of individuals struggling out of the gate, the well-coached veteran team has managed to once again compete with the best.
But even though it has been a team effort, certain individuals are certainly clicking—at least more so than others. With six weeks underway, it's time to start drawing conclusions regarding your 2013-14 Spurs roster.
The Bottom of the Bench
11. Jeff Ayres
Ayres had a tantalizing preseason but has done little to impress thus far. His array of offensive tools makes him an interesting piece, but he's been little more than an extra big body for San Antonio this year.
Though he did finish an alley-oop—something unheard of on such a fundamental team—he has been overshadowed and outproduced by Boris Diaw, Tiago Splitter and Tim Duncan.
12. Matt Bonner
Bonner is always a comical sight when he trots onto the court, but he brings little to the table anymore. His three-point shot can be effective, but he is completely one-dimensional. Until the three-point contest—assuming the league lets Bonner shoot—there will be little excitement revolving around the Red Rocket in San Antonio.
13. Aron Baynes
Baynes is little more than an experiment at this point in his career, and while he has had a few nice moments thus far, he is merely valuable due to his sheer size. Currently assigned to the D-League, Baynes brings little value to the team at the moment.
14. Nando de Colo
Like Baynes, de Colo is currently developing with the Austin Toros. However, he remains a lost talent amidst a sea of talented guards, and the need for his skill set is minimal—even compared to that of Baynes. His future with the Spurs is anything but bright, as he'll only dress in emergency circumstances.
15. Malcolm Thomas
Thomas was recently signed by the Spurs after impressing in the D-League early on. However, he has not yet donned the black and silver in an official game.
10. Cory Joseph
2013-14 Season Averages: 7.4 MPG, 3.6 PPG, .435 FG%, 0.9 RPG, 1.1 APG
Even though Cory Joseph has seemingly fallen into the depths of the Spurs backcourt, I remain steadfastly—and somewhat inexplicably—loyal to the third-year point guard.
While it's true that he's seen a drop-off in playing time this season, I will still attest to the idea that he is significantly more valuable than the rest of the team's benchwarmers.
This value, which has already been displayed once the season, stems from his effectiveness as an emergency starter whenever Tony Parker is forced to miss time. Parker was sidelined against the Orlando Magic, and while Patty Mills may be the more talented reserve, Joseph's number was called to start in Parker's stead.
The result? A respectable 13-point, four-assist outing from Joseph, who effectively held up the fort as the Spurs trampled Orlando.
Nothing too special has been on display yet from the Texas product, but he has proved to be efficient enough—and a legitimate short-term replacement for Parker—that he remains somewhat of an asset despite limited court time.
Now, on to the list of true difference-makers...
9. Danny Green
2013-14 Season Averages: 23.6 MPG, 7.8 PPG, .430 FG%, 3.3 RPG, 1.4 APG
Just as baldness remains an issue for Manu Ginobili, inconsistency has been a relentless problem that has forever plagued Danny Green.
Despite hopes that the team's streakiest shooter may have added an ounce of steadiness to his shot, the issue remains prevalent and has prevented Green from being entirely effective.
To be fair, he is shooting—overall—43 percent from deep. However, considering the perimeter is essentially Green's home, one would hope that his off nights were limited to an extent.
Defensively, he has been tremendously effective, but Green has turned in a few too many deplorable shooting performances to regard his early play as successful.
8. Patty Mills
2013-14 Season Averages: 16.3 MPG, 7.4 PPG, .471 FG%, 1.3 RPG, 1.4 APG
Patty Mills is the team's latest rags-to-riches story, having made the jump into the rotation where he remains one of the team's most valuable bench sparks.
Part of Mills' sudden success comes from his ability to play off-ball, an area that maximizes his production. He especially excels from deep, and playing off-ball has guaranteed him numerous open looks each game.
On the other end of the floor, Mills was always a pesky defender; however, he returned this year with a refined defensive game that has helped him transform into a legitimate stopper even when guarding talented opponents.
Overall, the team's resident towel-waver has passed on his cheerleading duties. As an effective bench spark, Mills is a valuable asset whose placement on this list is simply a testament to the team's remarkable depth.
7. Boris Diaw
2013-14 Season Averages: 22.9 MPG, 10.8 PPG, .570 FG%, 3.4 RPG, 1.7 APG
It truly is remarkable that the Charlotte Bobcats ever waived Boris Diaw.
Then again, it's the Bobcats.
In the San Antonio atmosphere, the versatile big man has gelled perfectly, epitomizing what it means to be a Spur. Despite limited athletic ability, Diaw's unselfishness and unparalleled persistence have made him a tough competitor who is currently enjoying what may possibly be his best season ever.
He is shooting at a high rate—efficiently and often—while remaining a distributor and an effective rebounder—the qualities that make him such a unique competitor.
He brings a certain spark to every area of the court that has been pivotal in the Spurs' success thus far, and as long as he keeps this tremendous level of play up, the Spurs bench will be strong enough to ensure a deep run in the 2014 playoffs.
6. Tiago Splitter
2013-14 Season Averages: 21.4 MPG, 8.8 PPG, .594 FG%, 6.8 RPG, 1.1 APG
To the onlooking eye, Diaw may appear to have a greater upside than Tiago Splitter. The vast majority of the NBA world will attest that the former is having the better season.
And really, it's been so close that it could change on any given day.
But I ultimately went with Splitter, whose talents have gone vastly unnoticed this seasons. Any initial criticism has been since erased. The Brazilian big man is playing consistent ball in the post. He doesn't shoot much but has managed to score nearly nine points per game due to an incredible 59.4 percent average from the floor.
His defense, though, is what gives him the upper leg over Diaw. Tim Duncan will be the team's primary rim protector until he officially calls it a career. Splitter, though, has managed to be remarkably effective on the defensive end despite sharing the block with the Big Fundamental.
You wouldn't be able to tell from a quick glance at the stat sheet, but Splitter is playing better than ever before—and a good chunk of the team's defensive success can be credited to its starting forward.
5. Kawhi Leonard
2013-14 Season Averages: 27.3 MPG, 11.2 PPG, .494 FG%, 6.3 RPG, 1.3 APG
Offensive slumps are completely overrated, right?
Well, not entirely.
Depending on the situation, what seems like an early-season slump could easily equate to a season full of disappointment and struggle. Just ask Manu Ginobili.
But in Kawhi Leonard's case, there is little reason to worry.
The concern stems from his sudden inability to connect from long range. His three-point percentage is abysmal, a surprise given his success from the perimeter in his first two years.
That said, he's still an effective scorer from inside. His touch in the post is flawless and remains a slashing threat even if his shooting struggles have limited his opportunities to get to the rim.
But more so than his offensive compensation, Leonard is truly making up for any poor production with his stellar defense. He has transformed into everything Gregg Popovich asked for on that end and then some.
He'll effortlessly guard the opposition's best player and can effectively defend just about any position aside from the 5.
His three-point ineptitude may be restricting him from completely letting loose, but he has remained relevant and one of the team's most pivotal assets nonetheless.
4. Marco Belinelli
2013-14 Season Averages: 21.3 MPG, 9.4 PPG, .516 FG%, 2.8 RPG, 2.1 APG
Gary Neal who?
San Antonio lost Neal to free agency but ultimately replaced him with Marco Belinelli, a talented journeyman who had struggled to find a long-term home.
He needn't look any further. The Spurs could not be a better match.
Any inconsistency from Green or struggle from Leonard has been offset by Belinelli, who has been lights out from beyond the arc.
Many a game has featured a Belinelli takeover, with the Italian shooting guard exceeding every expectation.
He's destined to see a drop-off eventually. Shooting 56 percent from deep is unheard of. But he's gelling in San Antonio, and the slip may be insignificant.
He's been an effective scorer and an ideal bench spark and would only thrive with increased playing time.
There's no guarantee that he'll keep it up, but six weeks in, it's safe to say that Belinelli and San Antonio are a perfect match.
3. Manu Ginobili
2013-14 Season Averages: 23.4 MPG, 10.3 PPG, .444 FG%, 3.6 RPG, 4.6 APG
Belinelli was brought in to take over the sixth man duties since it appeared as though Manu Ginobili was headed down a steep decline.
That, however, has not been the case. Spurs fans have enjoyed a season full of vintage Ginobili performances—something rare last season.
His field-goal percentage could certainly be better, but it's important to note that the shots that he takes are rarely high-percentage.
He is much more of an orchestrator than Belinelli and has succeeded in making others better while remaining a threat himself.
It appears as though the Big Three are back, and as long as Ginobili continues to make good decisions, he'll be an irreplaceable component to the Spurs' nucleus.
2. Tim Duncan
2013-14 Season Averages: 27.9 MPG, 13.1 PPG, .444 FG%, 8.1 RPG, 2.9 APG
A week ago, Duncan's name would have been significantly lower on this list.
He came out of the gate slowly, shooting at a deplorable rate in a manner that was extremely uncharacteristic.
But he has been prospering in the past few contests, scoring 19, 20 and 23 in his past three on over 60 percent shooting in each.
His 23-point outburst was accompanied by 21 rebounds, making him the oldest player to achieve a 20-20 in league history. In that game, he also managed to knock down the game-winning jump shot from the elbow.
It appears as though his struggles are behind him, and with his defense as stellar as always, it's safe to say that Duncan is still the second-best player in San Antonio.
1. Tony Parker
2013-14 Season Averages: 31.1 MPG, 18.1 PPG, .531 FG%, 2.5 RPG, 6.3 APG
If it weren't for Chris Paul, Tony Parker would undoubtedly be the best point guard in the league right now.
Parker has carried the load on offense, distributing and scoring in a manner that only few can manage. Perhaps no guard in the league can get to the basket with such ease, and perhaps no other point guard can claim to have such consistent scoring efficiency.
His assist average is a bit low, but it is still respectable to the point where his scoring aptitude makes it unnecessary to seek out others on every offensive possession.
As shown last year, scoring above the .500 mark is maintainable, and if anything, Parker's production will only increase.
Compared to other stars, Parker receives less playing time but manages to be equally—if not more—effective.
He is, without a doubt, the best player in San Antonio. By the season's end, he may even be the best guard in the entire league.
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