San Antonio Spurs

The Spurs’ breakout player will be…

Lonnie Walker, although this might be the year that San Antonio finally lacks an out-of-nowhere breakout player, and after a four year run of Simmons-Dedmon-Murray-White too. But assuming Coach Pop deems him worthy of minutes, the league is going to be treated to the athletic stylings of a youngster who’s happy to show that he can live up to his potential nickname SkyWalker.

It all goes wrong if…

It all goes wrong if the Spurs can’t successfully buck the league-wide space-and-pace trend for the second straight year. Last season they had the NBA’s 6th best offense despite attempting the fewest threes. But if the league finds a way to punish San Antonio for their lack of long-range threats, then it won’t matter how much the defense improves; they’ll miss the playoffs for the first time since dinosaurs roamed the earth.

What we’ll be saying about the Spurs at the end of the season…

That team sure can play some defense. Besides getting All-Defensive team Dejounte Murray back (who’ll pair quite nicely with Derrick White for a lock-down backcourt) San Antonio added DeMarre Carroll for a potential closing unit of Murray-White-DeRozan-Carroll-Aldridge which can easily hide DeMar, assuming he’s not improved to something approaching a league-average defender.

Final prediction

Vegas has set the Spurs over-under at 46.5, which is actually a good deal higher than a number of publications’ predictions. And while the West is certainly stacked, San Antonio is in a good position to improve on last season’s 47 wins. The suspect defense (the biggest issue from last year) has been shored up, there are a number of young guns who are set to make age-based improvements, and as long as the offense doesn’t.

Final prediction: 50-32

J.R. Wilco (@jollyrogerwilco)