When the San Antonio Spurs were knocked out of the first round of the 2015 playoffs by the Los Angeles Clippers in an epic seven-game series, many fans and experts wondered whether we had seen the last of the great Tim Duncan and his great teammate Manu Ginobili.
The rumours were that if the Spurs had won their sixth championship last season then both would have sailed off into the sunset with as little fanfare as possible.
The fact that the Spurs went out of the playoffs in such a heartbreaking fashion and the fact that the front office was able to re-tool and sign the prized free agent on the market in LaMarcus
Aldridge and well as the seasoned veteran in David West meant that both were keen to play on.
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The cracking pace that the Golden State Warriors have made this season may have unsettled some of their rivals, but not the Spurs who at 26-6 clearly have the second-best record in the NBA and are on a mission to not let the Warriors run away with things in the regular season. The two teams have not met this season, with the first meeting taking place on the January 25 in Oakland.
For as long as many can remember Duncan and Tony Parker were the architects of the Spurs offence, this season that has all changed. Both players are averaging the lowest minutes of their NBA careers, and, in turn, this has seen their overall stats fall to career lows. However such is the professional nature of both players, you won't hear any sign of discontent as for them it is all about winning another championship.
The torch has been passed to 2014 Finals MVP and 2015 Defensive player of the year Kawhi Leonard. The 24-year-old in his fifth season has put up career-best scoring numbers, averaging 21 points per game so far this season to go along with two steals and one block per game.
Meanwhile, Aldridge is making steady progress averaging 16 points and nine rebounds. He is also a valuable part of the Spurs defensive structure which has allowed only 88.7 ppg which is clearly the best in the league.
It is fascinating that while the league seems obsessed with the offensive side of the game thanks to the success of the "splash brothers" at Golden State, Gregg Popovich and his coaching staff have engineered an alternate way of winning games while keeping their offensive game very solid, currently, they average nearly 102ppg.
The Spurs are the oldest team in the league with an average age of 30.8. However their nucleus of Leonard, Aldridge, Danny Green and Patty Mills all have plenty of years left in the league and while the regeneration of the Spurs will be very sad for fans to say goodbye to all-time greats, the future of the franchise will be in very safe hands for a while yet.