Every now and then we do these Q&As with other blogs. We have a great San Antonio Spurs blog here at SBNation in Pounding the Rock. Wayne took some time out of his holiday weekend to answer some of my questions. I have to say, his answer to #4 is one of the greatest answers we ever had in a Q&A. I'm going to give him a bit of a break on #5 as it was a knock on him early in his career.
TDS: What is your ceiling for the Spurs this year, what is your basement?
PTR: It’s changing weekly. I really like the way things have come together the last couple weeks. We have a glaring weakness though, and that is a lack of frontcourt help for Tim. I think we could really use PF who could make a couple mid-range shots and grab some boards. Somebody who plays like Luis Scola, for instance. As a ceiling, I think we can win it all if we stay healthy. I’d still favor the Lakers over us, but I think we would be about a draw with anybody else in the upper half of the west. If we stay healthy, I could also see things falling apart a little for us down the stretch and getting beat in the first round. We won’t go lower than that without more injuries. Btw, Bill Simmons IS a jackass and deserves the middle finger for excluding the Rockets as title contenders. I also agree with your comments that he is getting lazy. He uses too many of the common talking points from the media in his analysis. It’s been 3 years running since he has anything to say about the Spurs besides they are old, but you can’t count them out. End of analysis.
TDS:Where do you rank Greg Poppovich on the all time coaches list? I have him in the top 5 easily, but I can't quite peg where in that top 5.
PTR: I have no idea where to put Pop in an all time coaches list. Auerbach, Jackson, Riley are obvious guys to consider near the top if all you take into consideration are number of rings. I think there have probably been a large number of coaches who were exceptional who didn’t have the talent given to them that these guys got. I’m going to punt on your question and twist it and make the question “what aspect of Pop’s coaching gets overlooked?” Pop gets credit for a lot of things: X’s & O’s, talent evaluation, relationship with Tim, etc. What you don’t hear a lot about is his ability to learn himself. Pop gets portrayed as a very stubborn man, but I think his ability to adjust and learn from mistakes that has been a huge factor in the Spurs success. Look at the way he has handled three rookie point guards. Parker, Udrih, and Hill. His patience and demeanor with Hill has been substantially different than with the first two.
TDS: George Hill has had a few really good games of late. Having two good point guards is a nice problem to have, but is he this good, or is he still a few years from consistently contributing?
PTR: George Hill. I just like saying the name at this point. He’s played five outstanding games in a row. I was a big fan of George’s after I watched the first summer league game, so at this point, I barely have rational thoughts about him. Most lean toward the supernatural – or is that preternatural -- like wanting to have his baby. Throwing out the caveat “he may regress” first, I think he is going to be ridiculously good. He will consistently contribute this year because he is lucky to be on a team that will want him to do the things he can do well already AND not want him to be anything he isn’t. George’s job is to play defense and run the second unit. That’s it. His job isn’t to score. His job isn’t to stay out of foul trouble. His job isn’t to break his man down off the dribble. Sometimes, he doesn’t even get the job of bringing the ball up the court. What is making George so good right now is that he is contributing without making jump shots. He is getting to the line almost 8 times a game in the last 5 games, his assist/turnover ratio is highest on the team at 2.81 – at PtR we don’t include Jacque Vaughn on the team, he rebounds, and he comes up with incredible steals and hustle plays. When he does score, it is usually in the paint. I believe those are all things he can continue to do. Give him two years to develop his jumper and I think the Spurs will have one hell of a ball player. If you want any more evidence of what kind of a Spur player he is, check out this interview (http://www.nba.com/spurs/
TDS: Tim Duncan is the greatest PF in history, that's not anything I think someone could argue against, but what's your favorite part of his game? Is there something that gets overlooked?
PTR: My favorite part of Tim’s game, huh? The subtlety. Tim knows how to cheat, if you will, very well. He knows how to exaggerate contact just enough to get the call. It’s not flopping and I would say that it is usually short of “selling it”. He grabs you with his off hand. He nudges you with a hip. He moves on his screen just a bit. He gets you to lean the wrong way. He gets you to lower your hands so he can make a pass. He knows the intricacies of the offense and how every foot on the court effects spacing. Watching him all the time you start to notice all these little things he does. The overlooked part of Tim’s game is his defensive effort. Not his ability, he gets first or second team all-defense every year. But, he never takes off. He always hustles and busts his ass on the defensive end. He frequently coasts through the early stages of the season offensively, but never defensively. There are not many players who will focus and put in the effort on the defensive end game-in and game-out. Tim does.
TDS: Who was the better player in your opinion, Duncan or Olajuwon. Yes, I just asked that.
PTR: Wow. Duncan or Olajuwon? You couldn’t have picked a tougher one for me. I was a big fan of Olajuwon. I think it comes down to whether or not you favor consistency or explosiveness. When Olajuwon was on, he was an all-time beast. He could go on runs, over several games, where he just dominated the game on both ends of the court. Plus, he was a highlight reel when he was making those plays. Tim isn’t a highlight reel guy. He just works and works. If I recall correctly, one of the knocks on Olajuwon was his selfishness, or need for numbers and touches, that isn’t something you’ll ever hear about Tim. I think if there is an area that would make Tim better it would be in that teammate sense. But straight up, head-to-head, ability to dominate an opponent, I would have to go with The Dream Shake.