Friday , Oct , 20 , 2006 C.Y. Ellis

San Antonio Spurs 2006-07 Season Preview

(Sports Network) – Expect the San Antonio Spurs to be very dangerous in the
2006-07 campaign. They finished an impressive 63-19 during the 2005-06 season,
but were eliminated in seven games by the Dallas Mavericks in the Western
Conference semifinals. The Spurs will be on a mission to get back to the
promised land this season.

All-Stars Tony Parker and Tim Duncan are still the big guns for the Spurs.
The 6-2 Parker led the club in scoring (18.9 ppg) and assists (5.8 apg), while
the 30-year-old Duncan averaged a career-low 18.6 points and a team-best 11.0
rebounds per game.

Manu Ginobili missed 17 games last season because of injuries. The former All-
Star contributed 15.1 points, 3.5 boards and 3.6 assists in 65 outings. He is
still the spark that ignites the Spurs.

Veterans Brent Barry, Bruce Bowen, Michael Finley, Robert Horry and 24-year-
old guard Beno Udrih are expected to play a big part in San Antonio’s
success, while free agent acquisitions Jackie Butler, Francisco Elson and
Jacque Vaughn will hopefully fit in and contribute as well.

Butler and Elson will take over in the middle for Nazr Mohammed and Rasho
Nesterovic. Mohammed, who averaged 6.2 points and 5.2 boards in 80 games last
season for San Antonio, signed with the Detroit Pistons, while Nesterovic was
traded to Toronto for forwards Matt Bonner and Eric Williams.

The Spurs are set on the bench, as head coach Gregg Popovich returns to call
the shots. Popovich has a very impressive resume. He has led the Spurs to
three NBA championships during his tenure in San Antonio and was named the
2003 NBA Coach of the Year. The San Antonio general has led the Spurs to the
NBA’s best regular season record three times (1998-99, 2000-01, 2002-03).
Popovich is a proven winner and will once again guide a roster that has a
chance to win a title.

BACKCOURT

The 24-year-old Parker has arrived. He is finally getting the recognition and
accolades that he deserves for being one of the best point guards in the NBA.
Parker can score and has a knack for finding an open teammate with a pass for
an easy bucket.

Ginobili is the energy of the Spurs backcourt, while Barry, Finley and Udrih
give San Antonio plenty of depth. Ginobili and the 33-year-old Finley, who
averaged 10.1 points in his first season with the Spurs, can both fill in at
small forward when needed.

Barry, 34, can play both spots in the backcourt and is still very steady. He
made 39.6 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc last season while
posting 5.8 points and 1.7 assists per contest.

FRONTCOURT

With Parker’s increased scoring, Duncan does not have to score like he once
did. The 6-11 Duncan is still one of the most steady and consistent players in
the game. He has not lost his soft touch around the hoop and is very effective
defensively. Duncan blocked 2.03 shots per game last season.

Bowen is San Antonio’s defensive stopper. The 6-7 Bowen contributed 7.5 points
and 3.9 boards in 2005-06. He fits in well with Popovich’s system, which is
built around the talents of Duncan and Parker. Bowen knows his role and does
it very well.

The 30-year-old Elson and Butler should be adequate in the middle. Neither
player is a threat offensively, but they are both serviceable on the boards
and defensively. The 7-0 Elson averaged 4.9 points and 4.7 rebounds in 72
games for Denver last season, while San Antonio hopes the 21-year-old Butler,
who posted 5.3 points and 3.3 boards in 55 games for New York in 2005-06, will
develop in a solid low-post player.

Horry, 36, usually saves his best for the postseason and will play his 15-20
minutes per game. Bonner and Williams will compete for minutes off the bench
and are capable reserves if injuries become a factor in the frontcourt.

OUTLOOK

The Spurs have won the NBA title in two of four and three of the last eight
years (1999, 2003, 2005). They are a veteran squad that is built to win now.
Dallas got over the hump and advanced to its first-ever NBA Finals last season
and along with the Phoenix Suns will be the Spurs toughest competition in the
Western Conference.

Duncan and Parker are one of the league’s best one-two punches in the league,
and can carry the Spurs very far in the postseason. However, it seems like San
Antonio may have fallen back a bit. Fifty-five wins during the 2006-07 regular
season and a high seed in the playoffs, but there will not be a parade for
this team.

SAN