NBA

Pau Gasol and Tim Duncan.

Tim Duncan day: The Spurs have replaced Big Fundamental but is it enough?

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Today is Tim Duncan day. An annual event in San Antonio to remember the legendary forward who hung up his sneakers this month after 19 years in the NBA with the Spurs.

After being drafted with the first pick of the 1997 draft, he won it all with the franchise; helping them win their first championship - going on to secure five in total - while claiming three Finals MVP awards and two Most Valuable Player titles.

However, the time for looking back on his career will be reserved for fans. Within the Spurs camp, it is all about looking forward and claiming their first ring in the post-Duncan era.

The 2015/16 campaign ended in complete disappointment for the organisation as they slumped to a 4-2 Conference Semi-Finals defeat to the Oklahoma City Thunder having recorded a franchise-best regular season finish.

With all the euphoria surrounding Kevin Durant's decision to join the Golden State Warriors, the Spurs' movements in free agency have fallen by the wayside to anyone outside of the Texas city - and that's just the way they would like it.

Golden State Warriors Introduce Kevin Durant

But in Duncan's retirement, they have a team that could - maybe - spring a surprise in the Western Conference. They were one of the franchises to secure a sit-down meeting with Durant, but, in reality, they were never likely to turn his head. However, the Spurs are the Spurs for a reason, and they remain a contender.

Popovich covered his bases ahead of Duncan's retirement and brought in Pau Gasol, at the age of 36, he is approaching the end of his career but is still capable of producing the goods when called upon. His 16.5 points, 46.9 shooting percentage and 11 rebounds per game are a vast increase on the numbers the Big Fundamental put up last year.

It's a like-for-like change at the AT&T Center that should, in reality, see the franchise produce more on an attacking front. But the primary concern will be how they failed to strengthen massively while the Warriors advanced leaps and bounds.

Chicago Bulls v Indiana Pacers

LaMarcus Aldridge is entering his second year with the organisation and could have Miami Heat syndrome. There were times last season when the former Portland forward failed to integrate into the playing system Popovich wanted, however, it all began to come together in the second half of the campaign and he developed into the primary threat we all expected.

His 18 points an outing were some of the lowest numbers in his career, but his field goal percentage of 51.3 was a career-high. Given more time to gel, it would be no surprise to see Aldridge producing the numbers he so regularly did during his time in Oregon.

San Antonio Spurs v Charlotte Hornets

With Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green, the Spurs are the second-best team in the west alongside a fully-fit L.A. Clippers, but their problem comes in the strength of Golden State. San Antonio, on paper, are stronger than 12 months ago. Duncan's retirement has been softened by Gasol while they haven't lost any pieces.

But the aging Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili - along with Pau -  are a problem when matched up with an in-their-prime Warriors machine. The Spurs have improved, but it probably isn't enough. However, if anyone can get the best out of this roster, it's coach Pop.

Topics:
San Antonio Spurs
Southwest Division
Western Conference
NBA
Tim Duncan
Pau Gasol
Chicago Bulls
Central Division
Eastern Conference

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