by Matthew Hamill
The 2015-16 season is underway and the San Antonio Spurs are once again off to a great start. Coach Gregg Popovich in his 16th season with the team, has his veteran players rolling, and is supplementing them with young stars. Adding Lamarcus Aldridge in Free-Agency gives the Spurs another NBA star that has played big minutes, capable of both scoring and rebounding.
Along with the addition of Aldridge, the Spurs are also witnessing a rising star in Kawhi Leonard. Leonard is in his fifth year in the NBA and has taken another step in developing his game.
Last year’s Defensive Player of the Year is really developing his offensive game, averaging 21.5 points per game on 53% shooting. The voice of the San Antonio Spurs, Bill Schoening, said the reigning Defensive Player of the Year is becoming one of the best two-way players in the league.
“The thing that makes him special is the way he performs at both ends of the floor,” Schoening said. “He might be the best two-way player in the NBA, in terms of being an all First-team defensive player, he was the defensive player of the year last year, and then his emergent offensive game.” (2:06 – 2:19)
Defensively this season Kawhi Leonard has forced bad shooting nights from Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant and Rudy Gay; three premier NBA scorers. Schoening said that Leonard relishes the challenge of taking a team’s best scorer out of the game, adding that Leonard is playing well enough to perhaps make the All-Star team.
“I think that the way he’s playing now, of course there’s still a few months away from the All-Star game, but if he continues to put up these kind of numbers at both ends of the floor, I don’t think there’s any way he won’t make the All-Star team for the first time this season.” (2:50 – 3:02)
Schoening said that all Leonard needs to do is remain healthy, and although Leonard may not command the fan vote he has definitely earned the respect of the NBA Coaches.
While Leonard is looking to make the All-Star team for the first time, the Spurs new Power Forward Lamarcus Aldridge is looking to make his fifth All-Star team and first as a Spur.
After nine seasons with the Portland Trail-Blazers, Lamarcus Aldridge finally moved to a team in the Spurs who can maybe satisfy his need for a NBA title. For the first time in his professional career, Aldridge is adjusting to a new team. Bill Schoening said that it is still a work in progress and Aldridge isn’t quite comfortable yet.
According to Schoening, as a Spur, Aldridge will have to adjust to taking less shots. While as a member of the Blazers Aldridge was the primary scorer. However with Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, Tim Duncan, and Kawhi Leonard all featuring for the Spurs, Aldridge will definitely get less shots. Aldridge also needs to adjust to the ball movement of the Spurs, who are always amongst the best in distributing the ball.
Schoening says that although the Spurs will feature Aldridge low in the post, they need balance in their offense to succeed.
“The offense is predicated on ball movement, getting the ball of screens, those sorts of things and I think slowly but surely Lamarcus will be working his way into being a little more comfortable on the floor.” (4:56 – 5:06)
It has always been an emphasis for Coach Popovich to not skip steps in the development process, which is also true concerning Aldridge. Schoening said that the Spurs coaching staff and organization believe that development will pay off
“I think that they’re very confident that he’s going to get there, in terms of understanding their system both offensively and defensively, defensively he’s been very good.” (5:41-5:49)
With the addition of Aldridge, the emergence of Leonard as an offensive weapon and the veteran leadership of Coach Popovich the Spurs definitely have the pieces needed for another title run.
Schoening has been calling games for the Spurs for the last fifteen years, and has seen this team win fifty or more games every season; he may have the best basketball broadcasting job in the business. Schoening has seen some truly consistent basketball, adding that even Magic Johnson’s Lakers only managed 12 straight fifty win seasons in a row.
Schoening is very grateful for his position.
“Oh I thank my lucky stars everyday, I really do. I’ve been really blessed to be with this team, during this stretch, this is my fifteenth year and every year I’ve been with my team they’ve won fifty games. It’s the most amazing consistent stretch of basketball ever, by an NBA team.”
The Spurs have been the definition of consistency during the Tim Duncan and Gregg Popovich era. Excelling in teamwork, passing and playing fundamentally sound basketball on both ends of the floor. Bill Schoening has been with the Spurs for an era of greatness, and given the ability of Kawhi Leonard, Schoening is in for many more years of greatness.