Sure they play two centersâ€”Tim Duncan and Kurt Thomas. At least they did the other night. The starting rotation of two centers, two small forwards and a point guard says something about the Spurs. Theyâ€™ve geared up for the playoffs and are ready to play tough and rough inside-the-paint basketball. That fact could be a major plus for the club as they head towards the second season.
The deal that brought Kurt Thomas to the Spurs from Seattle a few weeks ago may be the most important transaction of the mid-season in terms of team upgrades. Thomas in San Antonio could be more of an immediate factor than Oâ€™Neal in Phoenix or Kidd in Dallas. And certainly Sean Marion, who was sent to Miami for Oâ€™Neal, wonâ€™t change the fate of that team this season.
The other night, Thomas started at center and played 17 minutes. Tim Duncan also started at center, going for 35 minutes. Thomas had six points, which was fine. But more importantly, in a short amount of time he grabbed 9 rebounds, stole 2 balls and blocked a shot. Thomas, who is 35 years old, brings a veteran presence, a fine work ethic and drive.
The fact is that Thomas contributes something to the Spurs that they neededâ€”a big body guy who knows how to play in the frontcourt. Oâ€™Neal will contribute to the Suns, but heâ€™s aged quite a bit and may slow down the clubâ€™s offense. For the Jazz, Jason Kidd can certainly play defense and offense. He can score, steal and dish off assists. But the Mavs may simply be missing the toughness they need inside as power forward Dirk Nowitzki seems to be lacking the qualities needed to steer his team through the post-season maze. The relatively young Sean Marion at power forward may certainly have more of an effect in the long run as a member of the Heat than Oâ€™Neal will have with the Mavericks.
Other pluses for the Spurs include a good mix of vets and young guys, a sound backcourt and a fine bench. The teamâ€™s got depth.
It could work out that Kurt Thomas is the right man in the right place at the right time. If thatâ€™s true, look for San Antonio to make real run at the Western Conference title and win it all.