The San Antonio Spurs had a great season for '11-'12. They tied with the Bulls for best regular season record. They had a 10 game win streak in the playoffs, which left them up 2-0 in the conference finals... only to drop the next 4 in a row to the Oklahoma City Thunder. Some people say the Spurs ran out of gas. Some people say they passed the torch. Either way, it seems like every year the Spurs are projected to be over the hill and washed up and every year the Spurs have a great record and make noise in the play-offs.
Don't bet against the old guys.
Best record in the league. Conference finals appearance. There aren't going to be too many changes. At least not many that are obvious prior to training camp. The real issue is going to be what the rotation is at the 4/5 with the ever-changing roles of DeJuan Blair, Tiago Splitter and Matt Bonner.
C: Boris Diaw > Tiago Splitter/DeJuan Blair
PF: Tim Duncan > Matt Bonner > DeJuan Blair
SF: Kawhi Leonard > Stephen Jackson > Derrick Byars
SG: Danny Green/Manu Ginobili > Nando De Colo > Marcus Denmon
PG: Tony Parker > Gary Neal/Patty Mills > Cory Joseph
Manu Ginobili usually prefers to come off the bench as a 6th man with starter minutes. If that's still the case, Green will start, otherwise flip the order. Gary Neal could also put in some minutes at the 2. The back-up point guard ought to be Neal, but after the way Patty Mills was playing in the Olympics, we might see a bit more of a contest for this slot. And then there's the small matter of who gets the back-up minutes at the 4/5 behind Diaw and Duncan. That's anyone's guess at this point and it could change quite a bit during the season. Blair saw his minutes dip in the playoffs, but that may be a temporary thing. If Splitter or Blair would take a big step forward, it would help the Spurs immensely.
So what changes are we seeing for this year? Assuming no more big trades, a full season of Diaw and Jackson on the team. Leonard with a year under his belt. Green firmly established in his role. Basically, a bit more experience for this particular group playing together.
The danger is Father Time creeping up on Duncan and Ginobili. Duncan's health is particularly important to the squad, as they don't really have an adequate replacement at this point. Still, Tony Parker is in his prime and we haven't seen the big drop-off yet.
Will the Spurs be the #1 seed in the West again? That's hard to say. The Lakers seriously reloaded and the Thunder is looking awfully good going forward. I'm not going to say it won't happen, but the Spurs could also be in fight for the #3 and #4 slots with the Clippers and Grizzlies. The Spurs will get to the playoffs and we know they're dangerous when the get there. We'll just have to see how health and chemistry are in play, come Spring.