Couldn't agree more. Berman is one of the top 10 (wait...let's double check ESPN's roster...), top 5 talents ESPN has. In fact, I propose a White House petition to bring back, back, back, back, back the Berman/Jackson NFL Primetime.
Spurs Overall Team Grade
R.C. Buford made more draft magic again for the Spurs. A year after stealing DeJuan Blair in the second round, San Antonio made two great picks. Anderson is a proven scorer who adds some punch to the wing and is ready to be a rotation guy from the opening tip. I really like Richards' potential and think he has the chance to be a valuable NBA player even if he ends up staying in Europe for another year or two. (Grade: A)
20. James Anderson, SG, Oklahoma State
The Spurs do it again by getting an NBA-ready player who can bring some scoring to an aging roster. He should fit in perfectly in San Antonio. (Pick Grade: LOVE IT)
49. Ryan Richards, F/C, England
Richards really impressed me at the NBA Draft combine and I love his upside. He wants to come over to the league right away, but the Spurs have had success developing players overseas and may ask him to stay in England for another year. Regardless, I love the pick this late and think it will be another international thievery for the Spurs. (Pick Grade: LOVE IT)
2009-10 Season Summary:
It's been said for each of the past three seasons (at least by me) but apparently I have to say it again; 2009-10 was the beginning of the end for the Spurs. They've aged another year, their bodies have more mileage on them, and the effectiveness of their top three players has decreased.
Tim Duncan stayed relatively healthy all season, which was a plus, but he had the lowest rebounding and scoring outputs of his career. Tony Parker missed 26 games due to injury and when he was on the floor, he had his worst statistical output since 2004. Manu Ginobili was effective this past season, but not great and certainly not worth the 3-year, $36 million extension management gave him during the season. Most importantly, Manu's mark on the 2009-10 season will be his insistence on wearing a maxi-pad on his face to "protect" his broken nose.
Through all of that regression from the Spurs Big 3, the team still surprised the Mavericks in the first round with a 4-2 series drubbing that gave the Spurs fans something to cheer about for one more season. And cheer they did... until they were swept by the Suns in the second round. One big positive for the season was the emergence of rookie DeJuan Blair as an effective paint presence who could handle opposing NBA big men in short spurts. The Spurs capitalized on his slide in last year's draft and he capitalized on the opportunity.
2010-11 Projected Depth Chart:
C: Tim Duncan/Tiago Splitter/Matt Bonner
PF: Antonio McDyess/DeJuan Blair
SF: Richard Jefferson/Manu Ginobili
SG: James Anderson/Alonzo Gee/Gary Neal
PG: Tony Parker/George Hill/Garrett Temple/Curtis Jerrells
NBA Free Agents:
SG Roger Mason (UFA)
2010-11 Team Salary: Approximately $68.0 million
2010-11 League Salary Cap: $58 million
Spurs release SG Malik Hairston
Spurs re-sign SF Richard Jefferson to 4-year, $38.8 million deal
Spurs sign SG Gary Neal to 3-year deal
Spurs sign F/C Tiago Splitter to 3-year, $11 million deal
Spurs and F/C Matthew Bonner agree to 4-year deal
Spurs SF Richard Jefferson opts out of contract
NBA Offseason Needs:
1. Youth, Youth, Youth- I'm not saying the Spurs are old but... wait, strike that, yes I am. The Spurs are old. They have only George Hill and DeJuan Blair as key returning players under the age of 27. Four of the top six minute-loggers from last year will start the 2010-11 season in their 30s. Blair and Hill were very good in their roles last year, but if they are going to be part of the regime that turns this franchise over, they will need help. Now is the time to start adding young players in bunches because the seasoned veterans the Spurs still have something in the tank to teach them how to be savvy NBA players.
2. R.C. Buford Brilliance- The Spurs are over the projected cap with only seven contributors returning to the roster. In order to return to the playoffs for a 14th consecutive season, the Spurs will need their general manager to get creative to fill out the depth chart with players with postseason-quality talent, some of which may come in the form of returning free agents (i.e. Keith Bogans, Matt Bonner, Ian Mahinmi, etc). Additionally, Buford's draft success must continue with his two picks in the 2010 NBA Draft.
3. Explore the Inevitable- I thought last year was the year to blow the team up, and you could argue that I was partly right or partly wrong. I'm not going to just echo my opinion again this year, but I think the option needs to be reviewed. The extension given to Manu Ginobili makes him relatively untradeable, but Tony Parker and Richard Jefferson are both entering the final year of their contract, and it isn't a stretch to think that either will be on the trading block. If one of the teams with cap space strikes out on the free agents they targeted, it's not unreasonable to think they would take on Parker or Jefferson, and if the payback was a decent long-term solution. The Spurs should at least mull it over.
4. Tell Manu to Stop Wearing a Maxi Pad- OK... That's the last time I'll make that joke, maybe. But seriously, somebody get the dude some Rogaine.