The San Antonio Spurs were able to easily defeat the Miami Heat this year and if not for 28 seconds of loose basketball, would be two-time NBA champions.
In an era that’s filled with constant desire for imbalanced superstar teams, the Spurs proved to the entire league that’s not what wins championships. It might win a team one or two, but how many organizations can say they’ve won five in the past 15 years and every year are competing for one? You might need two fingers and the Spurs would tell you to put that index finger down and say there’s your answer. Thus, every other organization in the NBA is asking the same question- how do they do it and how do we get there?
When it comes down to it, it’s actually very simple, sort of like how the Spurs play on the court.
First, get a knowledgeable and business savvy man like R.C. Buford to be your GM. Buford reloads this roster every offseason reloads this roster with smart free agent and trade acquisitions, like trading point guard George Hill for Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard (that alone should justify him). Most GM’s look for flash because that’s what the fans want. Buford wants what fits the system and brings his fans home a championship banner.
Denver Nuggets GM Tim Connelly did well in his first offseason stint with the Nuggets. He signed for a fair price overachievers (in terms of production last season) Randy Foye and J.J. Hickson, and Nate Robinson was playing well before he tore his knee. Connelly is making the best with a team that’s someone elses and left him with little cap space and bad contracts. Connelly should be getting the approval of Nuggets fans.
Arguably the most important part of the Spurs system is Gregg Popovich. Popovich has always been considered one of the best coaches of all time and there is no questioning his greatness. What he has been able to do with the Spurs is remarkable and under appreciated to the common fan. No team is going to find a Gregg Popovich because there probably won’t be another, but Popovich showed coaching is still very important in today’s league so a good coach is a must.
There’s one thing Brian Shaw has that no other Denver Nugget can say he has: three NBA championships. The man has been around winning all his career and knows what it takes to get there. It’s took Nuggets fans and players a little to get behind Shaw and his own system, but with how the team played down the stretch as well as the increasing development of Kenneth Faried everyone is along for the Shaw experiment. I’m a full believer in Shaw and think he is a brilliant basketball mind, add the talent and you’ll see results.
Which comes to the last part of the system: the roster. The Spurs struck gold with finding in my opinion the first “big three” when they drafted Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, and Tony Parker. Those three however were not the reason why the Spurs won the gold rings. The reasons were Kawhi Leonard, Danny Green, Tiago Splitter, Patty Mills, etc. The entire roster that the Spurs had won them a (which should have been two) ring. A GM can make improvements and coaches are going to coach to their best ability, but this game has always come down to the players and the Spurs have the best 12 in the NBA.
What makes the Spurs deadly is not the talent they have but how they play as a team. You see players passing up good shots to get great ones, always playing fantastic defense, and making excellent basketball decisions. The Spurs played as a team in the NBA finals and look at the results they achieved. The Nuggets for year’s have been saying team basketball but have not played it. The Nuggets share the ball but don’t take great shots. They play decent on ball defense but poorly play help side. They try not to force many turnovers and commit to many. The Spurs look as if they’ve been playing together their whole life, meanwhile the Nuggets couldn’t even find a consistent five that play well together this year.
The Nuggets need to start buying into the team philosophy they have always claimed. Unlike most teams the Nuggets have a good coach and system to abide by, and have the depth and talent to win games. The Nuggets have all the factors to be right there at the top of the Western Conference. It’s time for the players to step up their game and complete the system.