Greatest All-Time Starting 5: San Antonio Spurs
Here at Off the Glass we’re taking on the arduous task of going through every NBA teams’ greatest possible starting five, using players that have played for that franchise. A player at each position (Point Guard through Center) will be selected, along with a 6th man who can be any position.
This is how it works:
Players selected must have played at least two full seasons for the franchise
The selection will be based on a combination of statistics, accomplishments/accolades and their significance to the franchise in question
Players had to have predominantly played at that particular position for at least one season to be eligible
Let’s get started.
San Antonio Spurs
Point Guard – Tony Parker: At one point in his career, the Spurs considered trading Tony Parker for a more traditional point guard in Jason Kidd. I am grateful that the trade didn’t happen, because Parker not only has delivered 4 championships, he has also become the Spurs all-time greatest point guard. I always call him “the Kevin Mchale of point guards,” because he is amongst the best of all time at finishing in the paint. He also is the all-time Spurs leader in assist, 2nd in minutes played and dominated the 2007 NBA Finals to earn his Finals MVP.
Shooting Guard – Manu Ginobili: I believe that at his best, Manu is just as good as any shooting guard in NBA history not named Michael Jordan. Manu does not have the stats of a superstar, he is prone to injury, but he has had a superstar impact for the Spurs. Manu was arguably the Spurs’ best player during their 2005 playoff run, and that is really impressive considering he played alongside prime Tim Duncan. Manu does not complain or make a big deal when Gregg Popovich decides to play him as the 6th man, because he always puts the team first. Even though he plays mostly as a shooting guard, Manu is a better playmaker than Tony Parker. Beside his occasionally reckless plays that make me want to scratch my head, Manu always makes the right decision, because he’s so adept on both ends of the court.
Small Forward – Kawhi Leonard: Putting Kawhi Leonard as Spurs all-time starting 5 might sound premature, but in his young career, he has won back to back Defensive Player of the Year awards and 1 championship alongside his Finals MVP trophy. Kawhi’s impact on the defensive end is on par with Scottie Pippen’s. They both have long arms and high defensive IQ. Kawhi finds a perfect balance between guarding his man and providing help defense. The Spurs kind of lost their identity as a defense-first team when the Memphis Grizzlies beat them in 2011 playoff, but Kawhi has brought that mentality back since his rookie year. I don’t see any reason why he can’t keep it up, because he has great work ethic and blessed with physical tools. He’s been overachieving since he got into the league. Kawhi was once a questionable shooter, but no more, he finished third in 3FG% in 2015/2016 season. He’s also proved that his impact as a perimeter defender is amongst the best of all-time.
Power Forward – Tim Duncan: Some would argue that Duncan played mostly as a center, but the fact is Tim Duncan is so highly skilled that he plays both positions at the highest level. The NBA should seriously put his name next to the Defensive Player of the Year, because it’s crazy that he didn’t even win the award once. What Duncan lacks in athleticism, he makes up with fundamentals on both ends. Not to mention, he can punish you with his mid-range jumper. He is highly efficient as the roll man and puts himself in the best position to score on the low block. On the defensive end, he is an elite rim protector, who doesn’t need to prove himself as a good shot blocker by swatting the ball into the fifth row. The Spurs won 5 championships during his tenure and what most people fail to realize is that he’s the Spurs’ best player during those 5 playoff runs. Tony Parker and Kawhi Leonard might of won 2 of those 5 Finals MVP, but Tim Duncan was easily the best player during the playoffs. Tim Duncan is the best Spurs player ever, because he not only took the Spurs to the playoff each year and has the highest winning percentage in NBA history, but he also shapes the Spurs culture of unselfishness and team-first mentality.
Center – David Robinson: Tim Duncan might shape the Spurs culture, but David Robinson played an equally important part in it. I always think that the foundation of the Spurs’ greatness and the real big 3 is David Robinson, Tim Duncan and Gregg Popovich. The former MVP instantly let the rookie Tim Duncan be the Spurs focal point on offense. We don’t see a lot of superstars who are willing to take a step back like that, but Robinson let Duncan shine.
David Robinson came into the NBA as a 24 year old rookie sensation who instantly impacted the game improving the San Antonio Spurs by 35 wins. We are often faced with questions whether certain player could survive in a different era, but I really believe that David Robinson would be even more dominant in this small ball era. He is one of the best rim protectors of all-time and his athleticism gave him the ability to defend pick and rolls, which is the bread and butter of modern style basketball.
6th Man – George Gervin: The list of Spurs’ great is not complete without putting George Gervin on it. He is a true NBA legend who led the league in scoring 4 times. He was smooth, graceful, creative and unstoppable, especially with his trademark move, the finger roll. His nickname Iceman shows his cool demeanor on the court and his talent for putting the ball into the basket.
Did I miss any of your favorite Spurs? Let me know if you agree or disagree – @Renaldy_satio