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4 Takeaways From San Antonio's First Post-Duncan Postseason

They may have lost to Golden State, but Pop has a few reasons to smile
by John Paulo Aguilera | May 23, 2017
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The injury-ravaged San Antonio Spurs were simply no match against the Golden State Warriors, a team that swept all of its playoff matchups on its way to the NBA Finals.

The Dubs imposed their will on the hapless Spurs in Game 4 and cruised to a 129-115 road victory, bringing down the curtain to the latter's first postseason run without the legendary Tim Duncan.

Despite the failed campaign, the storied franchise still has a handful of positives to carry through next season.

The Spurs front office is still the gold standard

Only San Antonio can make the names Jonathon Simmons, Dejounte Murray, and Kyle Anderson recognizable. All three were basically spoils in their respecitve draft classes—undrafted, picked 29th, and 30th, respectively—but emerged as solid contributors against the Warriors. Especially Simmons, who averaged 15.3 points while trying to fill the void left by their injured superstar.

The athletic swingman, who had to shell out $150 to try out for the D-League, is in for a big payday this summer as a restricted free agent. While it isn't certain if the Spurs will be the franchise giving it to him, Simmons couldn't ask for a better situation than where he is now.

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Manu Ginobili is good for a couple of playoff runs

The second oldest player in the NBA at 39 regained his vintage form (pun intended) just at the right time. After laying a goose egg and being a non-factor against the Memphis Grizzlies in the first round, Ginobili schooled James Harden and the Houston Rockets, before holding the fort for a depleted San Antonio team against Golden State with 13.8 points per game.

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Note that we wrote "playoff runs." Ginobili won't be able to sustain that kind of production all season-long, but if he manages to keep those legs fresh for the postseason, which is realistic under coach Gregg Popovich, expect the future Hall of Famer to be ready come next April.


LaMarcus Aldridge isn't the heir to Duncan, and that's all right

Expectations were high for the five-time All Star when he joined the Spurs in 2015, with some even anointing him as the successor to The Big Fundamental. That is why when Aldridge wasn't able to duplicate Duncan's impact on the court, critics were quick to nitpick on him every time he had a bad game. Which, if you think about it, is totally unfair.

Not only are their playing styles contrasting, but comparing the greatest power forward of all time and his body of work to a player who is only in his second year with a new team puts the latter at a huge disadvantage. Let Aldridge continue to integrate himself into the system.

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Kawhi Leonard is the MVP (at least for his team)

You could understand the load of hate Zaza Pachulia is currently getting, especially with how lopsided the series turned out. To say he robbed basketball fans of a great Western Conference Finals is actually an understatement. Ironically, the MVP finalist's worth to the Spurs was magnified when he wasn't playing—his 27.7 points, 7.8 rebounds, 4.6 assists, and 1.7 steals per game were sorely missed.

San Antonio may have been disappointing or encouraging in its first postseason without Tim Duncan, but what is certain is that there are brighter days ahead for one of the league's most decorated organizations, starting with the way Leonard will bounce back in the next campaign.


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