This is a bold question to ask. We all know that the Warriors are on pace for a record season and that they are revolutionizing the way the game is being played. They are a remarkable team with a remarkable set of players, and will finish atop the NBA with the best record as they close in on trying to make history.
This being said, lets look at the Spurs. Currently they sit only 3.5 games behind the Warriors and are undefeated at home. What is even more impressive in my mind is that the Spurs rest their key players yet are still winning games.
Lets examine the three most effective players on each of these two teams. Kawhi Leonard, LaMarcus Aldridge and Tony Parker for the Spurs have each played 70 games on average this year with not one of them appearing in more than 71 games. On the other hand, Steph Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson for the Warriors have each played on average 76 games this year with none of them playing in less than 75 games. Over the course of a long season, this difference can become important come playoff time.
While there has been notable drop-off in production from Spurs players such as Tony Parker, Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili, Kawhi Leonard has had a remarkable season. He ranks 6th in player efficiency rating, 3rd in three point percentage, and 5th in defensive plus minus. In addition to Leonard, LaMarcus Aldridge has been an amazing acquisition for the Spurs. While his overall scoring has gone down, Aldridge is shooting at a much more efficient percentage this year - 51.5% from the field - compared to last year on the Trail Blazers where he was shooting 46.6%. Aldridge is also a fantastic free throw shooter who currently ranks 3rd in free-throw percentage among power forwards at 86%.
While the Spurs are not “fun to watch”, the team has built a winning culture. It is amazing to think that every year since 1997, the year when I was born, Greg Popovich and the Spurs have never missed the playoffs. The Spurs really embody what it is to be a team. Players on the Spurs make sacrifices. For example, David West declined a $12 million player option with the Pacers in exchange for a $1.49 million option with the Spurs that allows him to have a much better shot at a title.
This year, as Tim Duncan turns 40, the Spurs have had their best record as a franchise. This is all while staying undefeated at home and occasionally resting their star players. Watch for the Spurs to come out strong throughout the playoffs and really challenge the Warriors for a shot at the title.