Final 1st-Half Player Power Rankings for San Antonio Spurs

Garrett Jochnau@@GarrettJochnauCorrespondent IIJanuary 12, 2014

Final 1st-Half Player Power Rankings for San Antonio Spurs

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    As the NBA season approaches the midway mark, the San Antonio Spurs have performed as expected. Their consistent excellence has been rewarded with a 28-8 record.

    The offense is clicking, and the defense—though not nearly as impressive as it was at the season's onset—cannot be ignored.

    From top to bottom, the team appears primed for another postseason run; however, it will take consistent effort from a number of the team's stars, as well a substantial improvement from others in order to put a fifth banner in the AT&T Center's rafters. 

    With nearly half the season under their belt, it's time to once again evaluate the components that constitute the San Antonio Spurs' top-notch roster. 

11-15: The Other Guys

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    15. Malcolm Thomas

    Malcolm Thomas has not yet logged any court time as a member of the San Antonio Spurs. However, his contract was recently guaranteed for the remainder of the season, so it remains likely that the stretch 4 will find his way onto an NBA court before the season's end.

    14. Nando de Colo

    Nando de Colo is tearing up the D-League, averaging more than 23 points, six rebounds and nearly six assists. But those eye-catching statistics have yet to translate into the NBA, as De Colo remains a lost member of a deep backcourt. Currently jumping from Austin to San Antonio—and then back again (and then again...)—the French point guard has fallen out of the rotation.

    13. Matt Bonner

    Matt Bonner's time in San Antonio appears to be drawing to an end. With his contract expiring at the end of the year, it appears as though the fan favorite is destined to finish his career with a different team. As an oversized three-point specialist, Bonner—who struggles to find playing time—remains a liability as a defender and rebounder. Though Spurs fans will always have a special place in their hearts for the Red Rocket, his importance to the squad is in his value as a trade piece.

    12. Aron Baynes

    Aron Baynes is still raw, and given the shortness of his NBA career, it isn't surprising. He is gifted on a physical level, possessing hulk-like strength and a gladiator's frame. He has made use of his limited court time, emerging as a force on the boards and a decent post player on offense. In light of the injury to Tiago Splitter, Baynes might find a bit more playing time whenever the team is in need of another big body, though his chances of becoming a consistent rotation player are slim.

    11. Cory Joseph

    Like the others, Cory Joseph struggles to find consistent playing time, logging minutes solely in blowouts or due to injuries. That said, whenever he takes the court, he does numerous things well. He remains a strong defender and a capable orchestrator. Though he is buried behind Tony Parker and Patty Mills, Joseph is talented and only needs an increased opportunity to thrive. Unfortunately, the depth of San Antonio's backcourt doesn't make that a likely chance.

10. Jeff Ayres

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    2013-14 Per-Game Stats: 12.7 minutes, 2.6 points, 3.7 rebounds, 0.8 assists

    Perhaps the worst consequence of the Splitter injury is the immediate increase in playing time given to Jeff Ayres.

    OK, that may have been a bit harsh. Ayres has, after all, managed to be a somewhat effective stand-in. He also collected nine rebounds against the Dallas Mavericks on January 8 and has yet to miss a shot since Splitter was sidelined. That's good, right?

    Well, it's only been a two-game span, and his shot attempts stand at just three. Given his previous incompetence—relatively speaking, of course—there are plenty of reasons to doubt whether he can develop into a consistent rotation player.

    It's up to him, though. Splitter will be out for a few weeks, and it's in Ayres' hands to shape his future. For now, I'm hesitant to jump on any bandwagon that may be forming, but that's subject to change depending on his production during Splitter's absence. 

9. Patty Mills

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    2013-14 Per-Game Stats: 16.5 minutes, 8.1 points, 1.4 rebounds, 1.4 assists

    To think, at this time last year, Patty Mills was nothing more than a benchwarmer.

    A season later, he has become one of the team's most reliable scoring sparks, despite playing just 16.5 minutes. His three-point shooting average—greater than 40 percent—makes you question why he wasn't given a larger opportunity last season.

    He has found his niche as a perimeter weapon in a second unit in which his passing duties are minimal, and he's stepped it up a notch on the defensive end as well.

    He is trending down as of late, with his field-goal percentage and overall scoring averages dropping over the past 10 games. His playing time—though increased over last year's—remains relatively small.

    He's been a likable component in the Spurs offense, which seems to thrive whenever he steps onto the court. However, he has become a bit one-dimensional, serving only as a shooting threat. Thus, he remains overshadowed by the team's plethora of other talents.

8. Danny Green

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    Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

    2013-14 Per-Game Stats22.8 minutes, 7.6 points, 3.0 rebounds, 1.3 assists

    An argument can be made that Danny Green is a spot too high on this list, as his inconsistency has become an issue that Mills has seemingly avoided.

    That said, judging him based on that would be narrowing the view of his contributions and ignoring his prowess on the defensive end.

    He sports a defensive rating of 95.2—the second best on the team behind the injured Splitterand has shown value as a defensive rebounder, ranking fourth behind Tim Duncan, Splitter and Kawhi Leonard.

    Offensively, his inconsistency has become concerning, but he is anything but hopeless.

    The margin between Mills and Green is very small, although Green's defensive aptitude tips the balance in his favor.

7. Tiago Splitter

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    Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

    2013-14 Per-Game Stats21.2 minutes, 8.6 points, 6.2 rebounds, 1.1 assists

    Most people didn't notice, but Tiago Splitter was sneakily putting together an impressive 2013-14 campaign before he was injured. 

    Statistically, he gets the nod as the team's most important defensive player. As a complement to Duncan, he was an essential piece to the puzzle, which makes it unsettling that he is expected to miss three to five weeks of action. The timing was especially bad, considering Splitter had just posted 22 points the night of the injury and appeared to be trending up offensively.

    That said, the team can thrive offensively with Boris Diaw in place of Splitter, so it will be interesting to see how the Spurs fare in his absence.

    Overall, though, it's been a positive first half of the year for Splitter, and fans will anxiously await the return of the starting forward. 

6. Boris Diaw

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    Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

    2013-14 Per-Game Stats23.7 minutes, 9.4 points, 3.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists

    Both Diaw and Splitter are having fantastic seasons, each excelling on a different end of the court. While Splitter has been integral in anchoring the team's defense, Diaw has emerged as one of the offense's most important players.

    He is shooting at a high percentage and has become an important component in the team's ball movement, serving as a post distributor as well as a perimeter passer at times.

    His game is multifaceted, and it's safe to say that his contributions off the bench are essential, given the team's overall lack of depth in the frontcourt. 

    He'll be given a greater opportunity with Splitter sidelined, but unlike with Ayres, it is an opportunity that Spurs fans will eagerly anticipate. 

5. Kawhi Leonard

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    Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

    2013-14 Per-Game Stats28.7 minutes, 11.7 points, 6.2 rebounds, 1.6 assists

    Contrary to what many critics are claiming, the bar was not set too high for Kawhi Leonard.

    Though he has not lived up to expectations in his third season, his underwhelming offensive performance has been the result of an extended slump rather than an inability to reach lofty goals.

    In fact, ignoring statistics—which is difficult to do in this day and age—Leonard has actually improved in certain areas.

    Though his shooting has seen better days, his defensive contributions remain unparalleled, and his ball-handling is constantly improving. He's passing the ball well and has improved his rebounding game slightly.

    In fact, had his shooting ability of 2012-13 carried over into this season, people might be talking about him as a breakout star.

    Fortunately, he has shown some signs of improvement as of late, shooting at a higher percentage in the month of January from the floor and from deep. If he can break his slump, Leonard will become an even more dangerous two-way player for the Spurs.

4. Marco Belinelli

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    2013-14 Per-Game Stats22.9 minutes, 10.8 points, 2.8 rebounds, 2.1 assists

    After being inserted into the starting lineup in place of Green, Marco Belinelli slowed down a bit. It was said that he could not sustain his hot start, and for a few games, it appeared as though his shooting had returned to earth.

    Then he started 2014 with an explosive 32-point outburst, shooting 75 percent from the field and 66.7 percent from deep. Following that, he posted an unimpressive five-point showing before scoring 19 and 17 points in back-to-back games.

    Currently, his three-point percentage remains above the 50 percent plateau, and while every detractor is predicting as to when he will cool down, the Italian guard continues to surprise on a nightly basis.

    It's safe to say that he's clicked in San Antonio, and even if he does experience a minor drop-off, Belinelli will still be producing at an efficient rate.

3. Manu Ginobili

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    Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

    2013-14 Per-Game Stats24.1 minutes, 12.5 points, 3.5 rebounds, 4.7 assists 

    When the Spurs squared off against the Memphis Grizzlies on January 7, Manu Ginobili struggled with his shot, making just three of his 12 attempts.

    Two of those baskets, however, were crucial. The first was the go-ahead bucket in regulation, and the second was the game-winner.

    As a whole, Ginobili is still inconsistent to an extent. But the improvement that he has made since last year is noticeable.

    He's hardly a liability anymore. His 46 percent shooting isn't awful, and his 4.7 assists per game—higher than his career average—have been important in helping the Spurs post the league's second highest assist total.

    There's still a lot of work to be done, but overall he has been anything but detrimental to the team.

2. Tim Duncan

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    Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

    2013-14 Per-Game Stats29.3 minutes, 14.5 points, 9.8 rebounds, 3.0 assists

    Another year, another opportunity for Tim Duncan to defy the laws of aging. 

    Though it may not have seemed so at first, the future Hall of Famer is still winning his battle with Father Time, as he relentlessly dominates on both ends of the court.

    Offensively, he is still the team's best post player and—at times—is unstoppable from down low. Though his mid-range shot has seen better seasons, as a whole, Duncan's scoring and passing has helped him become one of the team's best offensive weapons.

    Defensively, he serves as the team's top rim protector. He has also been dominant on the boards thus far.

    Though his stats may fall short of the gaudy numbers that he posted during his prime, Duncan's impact remains the same, and if the Spurs are going to make a run, he'll be a major contributor.

1. Tony Parker

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    2013-14 Per-Game Stats31.1 minutes, 17.7 points, 2.5 rebounds, 6.2 assists

    The Spurs have been sparing thus far with Tony Parker, allowing him just more than 31 minutes per game. That said, his decrease in playing time hasn't affected his play at all.

    Sure, his 2012-13 statistics might have been better, but there's no denying Parker's spot near the top of the elite point guard list.

    Aside from a few games, he is a reliable leading scorer and shooter. His assist average is lower than he would have liked, but he remains the main factor in the passing game that San Antonio has executed with perfection.

    There is certainly room to grow, but Parker's 2013-14 campaign has been anything but ordinary. He'll soon be awarded with a deserving All-Star bid for his efforts, and as the season goes on, he may garner even more accolades.