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The Boxscore Geeks Show: The Spurs Settle Family Business

Our show is also available in audio only form (Some call it a podcast!)


Listen to the podcast and then answer our weekly poll. Or you know, don't listen and answer.

And thanks for restoring my faith in humanity on last week's poll. Yes, you the readers did think Russell Westbrook was overrated!

Special Guest E.J. Fischer

We're happy to welcome E.J. Fischer to the show. Follow his work at eugenefischer.com or on Twitter @glorioushubris. E.J. is a science fiction writer by trade, recently completing a stint as an adjunct professor at the University of Iowa. He's also, perhaps, the biggest Spurs and advanced stats combo fan in existence. Of course, there are other crazy Spurs fans. He had a ton to say about the Spurs.

How did the Thunder keep the Series so Close?

After two quick wins, the series was evened. However, E.J. starts by pointing out that using point differential, the series was not as close as it appeared. A few important factors - Tony Parker was injured, and Ibaka came back.

We actually give Westbrook some props. As we repeatedly say, overrated doesn't mean a player isn't good. Although, E.J. points out that a player on the same team as Durant that takes more shots than Durant is doing something wrong. Westbrook shot 123 shots in the conference finals to Durant's 122. A bigger problem is easily how many minutes Kendrick Perkins and Derek Fisher got. Of course, that's nothing new.

E.J. has a point on the Thunder's athleticism. They're a fast team, meaning the refs can miss things. Case in point: Ibaka's "block" in game six. On the subject of blocks, Tim Duncan has been called a very efficient blocker compared to flashier ones by advanced stats. Also, there was a great interview with Marcus Camby I can't seem to find. If this rings any bells with you, please link it in the comments!

Settling Family Business?

The Spurs have had a ton of posteseason success. However, they've had a lot of post season heart break.

  • In 2004 Derek Fisher scored with 0.4 seconds left to win game 5 against the Spurs
  • In 2006 the Spurs lost to the Mavericks in 7 games.
  • In 2012 the Thunder swept the final four games of the series after the Spurs went up 2-0 in the conference finals.
  • In 2013 the Spurs were a half a minute away from a title before the Heat and Ray Allen dashed their dreams.

This season the Spurs are settling their affairs Godfather style. They took down the Mavericks in seven games. They beat the Thunder and sent Fisher to retirement without another finals appearance. That only leaves the Heat!

An interesting note, Fisher has "turned it up in the playoffs", but Kobe's clutch is a tad overstated.

By the way, Manu Ginobili is a first ballot Hall of Fame player. Much like Dikembe Mutombo, his greatness may be underrated. Seriously though, first ballot.

Tim Duncan trash talks? Or does the media leave out important contextual words like "hopefully" Worth noting Tim Duncan called LeBron James the future of the NBA after the 2007 finals.

Also, how absurd is it that the Heat are the old beat up team? Additionally, who could have predicted that LeBron James and Tim Duncan would make a legitimate rivalry?

Also, one of the few metric that make Kobe look extremely good is longevity. Of course, Tim Duncan is smashing that by keeping up top play for almost two decades.

Players like Tim Duncan, Kobe Bryant, and Steve Nash work really hard to stay at peak level late in their career. I feel this is often underrated, as it is not an easy thing to do.

Tim Duncan

Tim Duncan definitely wins the "player after Jordan" question. At one point that may have been a Shaq vs. Duncan debate, but clearly no longer. Arturo's put it best that Tim Duncan's face would go on the Mount Rushmore of basketball greats.

The Spurs Dynasty

Here's a fun stat, this is the top five (six due to ties) teams in regards to consecutive seasons of a 60%+ win percentage.

  • 1998-2014 San Antonio Spurs (17 seasons)
  • 1980-1991 Los Angeles Lakers (12 Seasons)
  • 1957-1968 Boston Celtics (12 Seasons)
  • 2001-2011 Dallas Mavericks (11 Seasons)
  • 1996-2004 Los Angeles Lakers (9 Seasons)
  • 1980-1988 Boston Celtics (9 Seasons)

To the only dig against the Spurs, which is the lack of consecutive titles, it's worth noting the Lakers didn't do this until 1988. Also, the Spurs have had close misses, as we point out above, which shouldn't count against them for dynasty (in my opinion)

It's worth noting that while Richard Jefferson was a bad signing by the Spurs, his corner three shooting was amazing (thanks Chris Chan for pointing this out to me!).

One question that's come up a few times. Are the Spurs disadvantages actually advantages? For instance, not having top draft picks means they aren't pressured into wasting picks on hyped players. Having less money, due to the St. Louis Spirits deal, means they have to look for undervalued players. Of course, lucking into two number one picks doesn't hurt (unless you're the Cavs!)

Also, as we've said, the Spurs have been Moneyballing for years. Unlike Moneyball though, they keep their mouths shut!

One part of the Spurs staying competitive is the addition of Kawhi Leonard. I have slammed the Pacers for trading him. E.J. offers a weird perspective. The Pacers had the option of

  • Taking a point guard they knew the Spurs liked
  • Trusting the could draft as good as the Spurs.

This logic hinges on the Pacers trading their pick, not Kawhi, which is, for instance, how Dirk Nowitzki ended up on the Mavericks. I can't verify the Pacers traded their pick before getting Kawhi though.

Wrapups and Shoutouts

E.J. and I have podcasted a few times. Of course, there's one I mention a few times that I have still yet to post. E.J. suggest we just never post it and continuously grow the myth of it.

My shoutouts this week are Brian (@boxscorebrian) for an amazing Westbrook tweet.

and to E.J. Fischer and Manu Ginobili for a great regression to the mean interview.

I know, I know, my shoutouts are to other people on the show. Still, their stuff was awesome this week!

E.J. had some awesome shoutouts. The first was to Monica Byrne (@monicabyrne13), author of the book "The Girls in the Road", which has already gotten rave reviews from people like Neil Gaiman.

Next, E.J. shouts out to Genevieve Valentine (@GLValentine), who just published "Girls at the Kingfisher Club" and author of the site Questionable Taste Theatre, which reviews only bad movies.

Great shoutouts, great coversation, great guests? I had a ton of fun on this podcast, hope you enjoy listening! See you next week.

In the Hill/Leonard poll, you've got a picture of David West, not Hill.
John,
I liked the incredulous look, but I can see the confusion, hope you like the new photo!
Does E.J. Fischer have a pen name of something? I am trying to find his sci-fi novel(s).
Dre, putting your thumb on the scale a little bit with that poll title, aren't you? We still don't know if they traded Kawhi or merely the 15th pick.

Tommy_Grand, no novels yet. (Working on it!) I've published some stories. You can find out more about me at my website, eugenefischer.com
Huh. Actually, if this article is to be believed, then Dre is right and I'm wrong, and the Pacers did literally trade Kawhi for Hill. Well. I know how I'm voting in the poll now!

http://grantland.com/features/analyzing-kawhi-leonard-george-hill-trade-2013-conference-finals/
I don't think the Spurs are going anywhere. They're the best at drafting talent, developing talent, spending money, coaching offense, coaching defense and maintaining their players health and longevity. It's like Tiger being both the both ball striker and best putter. GLWT to the rest of the league.

To me when we are old we will see the Spurs like the Yankees in the first half of the 1900s. Gehrig Ruth made a smooth transition into Dimaggio era, which transitioned into Mantle era and the winning never stopped. Duncan and Manu will retire but Parker, Kawhi, Green, Splitter etc. is good enough to keep winning 50 Gs+. Once Parker retires they'll have drafted the talent around Kawhi/Green/Splitter to keep winning.

First the Kobe quote on age limit quote now this. Andres, Camby was playing for the Nuggets when he said this:

http://www.denverpost.com/sports/ci_8400413
The ineligible draft player controversy with the Wolves.
http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/blog/ball_dont_lie/post/wolves-second-round-pick-lied-about-age-should-have-been-ineligible?urn=nba,wp5562
Also interesting note about the minute management. Pop might have gotten that idea from the international teams who have done this for awhile. Spurs are more of a global team than the conventional NBA team.
The Spurs in their present incarnation are like a hydra: they have size, speed, depth, can beat you on the perimeter and in the post, can run or walk the ball up the court and execute. An amazing job done building and managing that franchise. Their approach definitely flies in the face of the "Big Three" and lottery pick models.
No talk of the Spurs losing in the first round as a 1 seed and a 2 seed to the Grizzlies and the Mavs in 08-09 and 10-11? The Spurs seem to have as many disappointments as triumphs for a team as consistently good in the regular season. Might be contributing to people constantly underestimating them.

The Pacer poll question is a bit unfair. In retrospect, it was a bad move. Leonard was an unknown quantity who had nice measurables and giant hands but couldn't shoot, while Hill was Pop's golden boy. Maybe Pacer's don't develop Leonard as nicely as the Spur's renown staff. Maybe he gets buried behind Paul George and Granger.
DG,

We actually mention them a bit in the podcast, but it's hard to hit all the stuff we do in an hour long podcast in the notes, especially because E.J. and I are kings of tangents and trivia.
Andrew,

Wow you rock! Thanks.
The problem with evaluating the Kawhi Leonard-for-George Hill trade is the same as all Spurs personnel-related questions. That is, are the Spurs ridiculously good at evaluating talent, or are they ridiculously good at developing talent? The easy answer is "Both," but that is sort of non-responsive. The point is that Leonard likely has developed as a player in San Antonio in ways that are not possible elsewhere.

I am a UK grad, and was at UK when we had Tim Couch. He is perceived as a bust in the NFL, but he was drafted by the Browns. A quarterback's success is largely determined by what sort of organization drafts him. We haven't seen this phenomenon so much in the NBA but it appears to me that we are seeing it with the Spurs.

Here is a question that I've never seen asked: Will Lebron consider signing with San Antonio this summer? Why wouldn't he? And if he signs with San Antonio, how many championships in a row will he/they win? Three? Six? San Antonio can easily clear the cap space, obviously.
Also,
Kobe has never been a top 5 player in the NBA so while longevity is impressive, it still doesn't put him in a conversation with MJ or Lebron.
Huh. And I need to correct myself again. In the post game press conference Duncan said "hopefully," but on the court immediately after the game he didn't. So it was still a somewhat constructed issue, as the journalists selected the more provocative phrasing to quote, but it wasn't as unjustifiable as I made it out to be on the show.

Not that it matter. Either way, he was right. They got it done this year.

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