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Odd Men Out in San Antonio?

By Daniel Strickland on November 1, 2005.

Sports Illustrated writer Jack McCallum asks:

Who is the odd man — make it odd men — out in San Antonio?

As I look at the 13-man roster the defending champion Spurs take into the opener against Denver Tuesday night, I see guys who can play. Even the rookie forward from Argentina, Fabricio Oberto, and the probable inactive-list candidate, center Sean Rooks.

But most coaches like a rotation of nine, tops. Eight is even better. Count these mainstays as locks for playing time: Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Bruce Bowen, Manu Ginobili and Robert Horry. Add a center, probably a time-share between Nazr Mohammed (who had a mediocre preseason) and Rasho Nesterovic. That’s seven.

So which players among returnees Brent Barry and Beno Udrih and newcomers Nick Van Exel and Michael Finley will be picking splinters out of their butts?

That question may not be answered until the playoffs. Chances are, Gregg Popovich will moderate the minutes of all the regulars, while figuring out his best rotations when it counts the most.

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  1. Bramlet Abercrombie November 4, 2005

    I think Pop will play 11 players for a while until one of the big men gets weeded out of the rotation, and then he’ll play 10 through the season. That’s realistic for us, because Pop will limit our starters’ minutes, and there should be enough minutes left for the veterans on the bench to maintain a rhythm. NVE will get a good 15-18 minutes a game, Finley should get 25-28 minutes (primarily at the 3 with a few minutes at the 2) since Bruce will play less this year, Barry should still get 12-15 minutes, Horry shouldn’t average more than 15-20 minutes to keep his legs fresh, and two other big men can split the other minutes in the frontcourt.

    Barry will probably have the hardest time with that, because his game is based so much on feel and rhythm, but he’ll figure it out. I think it’s essential that he get playing time, because he brings some things to the offense that no one else on the team does as well as he does. He shows the other guys what’s possible for this team offensively. And he learned how to play Spurs D last year, too.

    Injuries may actually play a positive role, as they did for us last season; they might give some new guys a chance to play extended minutes, get comfortable in the system, and build their confidence as they contribute to the team’s success.

    If memory serves, Pop played a 10-man rotation through the regular season last year and only tightened up the rotation as the playoffs wore on – and that decision was partly due to Devin’s injury. But an 11-man rotation would be tough for any team with championship aspirations to pull off.

    Unfortunately, I don’t think we’ll see a lot of Beno this year except in blowouts. I hope his development doesn’t get stunted as a result.


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