3 San Antonio Spurs Who Must Step Up for the NBA Playoffs

Garrett Jochnau@@GarrettJochnauCorrespondent IIApril 11, 2014

DENVER, CO - MARCH 28:   A close up shot of Marco Belinelli #3 of the San Antonio Spurs during the game against the Denver Nuggets on March 28, 2014 at the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by Garrett W. Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images)
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The San Antonio Spurs are, without a doubt, the league's hottest team. Having garnered momentum following a historic run and an overall dominant second half of the season, the team sits atop the league having once again defied odds en route to championship contention.

Stacked from top to bottom, the roster has few visible weaknesses; it has the star power and depth to ensure it will be competitive in the postseason. 

That said, while certain components have enjoyed a strong surge as of the late, a handful of the team's key pieces will enter the postseason with room for improvement.

With everything on the line, it is essential each and every player is performing to the best of his ability to guarantee no individual prevents the team from reaching its potential.


Danny Green

Mar 22, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; San Antonio Spurs guard Danny Green (4) reacts after making a three point basket against the Golden State Warriors in the fourth quarter at Oracle Arena. The Spurs defeated the Warriors 99-90. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmonds

Anybody remember the shooting onslaught that was Danny Green's three-point performance in the Finals last season?

One of the many instances in which Green reached his true potential, last year's matchup with the Heat showcased the North Carolina alum's talents on a national stage.

Unfortunately, by the end of the series the world had realized what the San Antonio fanbase has long understood:

As hot as Green can get on a given night, his talent can dry up just as easily.

Inconsistency has long plagued Green's career with the Spurs and has prevented him from expanding his role and making crucial strides as a player.

Though he may be a focal point of the offense from time to time due to his shooting ability, his inability to maintain a high level of production on a nightly basis has earned him a label as an offensive liability.

However, his defensive aptitude makes it impossible to pull him when he enters a shooting slump. After Kawhi Leonard, Green is the team's best perimeter defender and possesses the ability to make a strong impact on that end even against the most talented opponents.

Once the playoffs come and the stakes skyrocket, the Spurs will need consistency from their volatile starting shooting guard. When he's on he's a valuable asset, though a lack of reliability from his end could be detrimental to the team's overall success.


Marco Belinelli

NEW ORLEANS, LA - FEBRUARY 15: Marco Belinelli #8 of the San Antonio Spurs addresses the media during State Farm All-Star Saturday Night as part of the 2014 All-Star Weekend at Smoothie King Center on February 15, 2014 in New Orleans, Louisiana. NOTE TO U
Ray Amati/Getty Images

While Green's issues have been characteristic since his start with the team, the problems Marco Belinelli is currently facing are relatively new.

He began the season as one of the league's hottest guards, finishing the first half with a three-point percentage that teetered around the 50 percent mark. His scoring, distributing and overall play style made him an ideal fit for the team and his early success reflected his quick acclimation.

However, following his three-point shooting victory during the All Star break, Belinelli has fallen into a downward spiral.

Not only have his shooting numbers fallen, but his overall contributions have not lived up to the lofty expectations set after his fantastic start. 

He and Manu Ginobili will combine to be the team's ultimate X-factor, and there can't be any questions regarding either's play when the postseason arrives.

Belinelli faced similar concerns entering the playoffs last year, though he dispelled them by stepping up and helping Chicago succeed in the opening round.

This year, he will need to do the same. Though there are other options at the wing, top-notch production from a versatile player like Belinelli may be what the Spurs need to maximize their prosperity. 


Tony Parker

Mar 26, 2014; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs guard Tony Parker (9) talks with head coach Gregg Popovich during the second half against the Denver Nuggets at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Tony Parker isn't playing bad.

Not by a long shot.

However, as the playoffs near, one of the main criticisms concerning the Spurs has been the team's apparent lack of star power. Whether that truly is a major problem is up for debate, though the team will need a superstar push in order to clear the Oklahoma City-sized roadblock that sits between it and the Finals. 

In years past, Parker has provided the team with that leadership role, something he has done consistently this year as well—although his stats may suggest a slight decline.

Still, his efficiency and ability to take over a game are unparalleled. 

Once the postseason arrives, though, any remaining concerns about the team's star power need to be hushed.

Though depth and a balanced attack are necessary, few teams can win without a distinguished leading man. While Tim Duncan has been fantastic thus far, Parker is the only player who can truly fill that role.

As the team's best scorer and orchestrator, superstar play will be required from his end. Without top-notch quality on a nightly basis, the Spurs stand little chance against the league's other standouts.