Ask any team, any player or any fan and they’ll agree on one thing: role players are important pieces of the puzzle that contribute to a franchise’s pursuit for greatness.
If the coach wants hustle, role players are out there diving for every loose ball. If they want defense, they are the ones that bang bodies and get that much needed possession. If the play calls for a specific action, role players are called to do the dirty works.
Role players are not superstars, but they are the best at what they do. They are “Jack-of-all-trade” players: versatile ballers who know their place and that their efforts will eventually pay off. They don’t score in bunches, but they make it count. Every time their names are called, they make it a point to go all out like fireballs to give their respective teams a boost, a jolt to overcome a deficit or to stop a run from going out of proportion.
The Spurs have had a lot of role players in their roster, both past and present. In 1999, they signed Mario Ellie and Jaren Jackson. Defensive specialist Bruce Bowen and banger Malik Rose joined San Antonio in 2003. Bowen even helped the Spurs in their three title runs. Three-point sniper and former Slam Dunk champ Brent Barry and “Big Shot Bob” Robert Horry were crucial inclusions in the Spurs’ 2005 and 2007 trophies. So did Michael Finely in 2007. Boris Diaw, Tiago Splitter, Patty Mills made it a point to shut down the Miami Heat.
Whether we like it or not, the Spurs’ lineup is underrated. DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge are All-Stars, yes, but they primes have passed. We can just imagine a Portland-esque LA and a spunky Raptor playing now and our team would be dangerous. Hell, the Spurs can win the WCF if this was the case.
The Spurs lagged in the 3 and D department for the last couple of seasons. Danny Green blacked out during the postseason, and the team was left with Marco Belinelli and Davis Bertans, who didn’t really played that well, especially when it comes to shooting the three. Denver exploited this weakness and limited the efficiency of DeRozan’s perimeter and Aldridge’s post game.
San Antonio needs a fresh start this season, and that is why most fans were happy when they signed DeMarre Carroll from Brooklyn. We could’ve used Marcus Morris, but it’s a story that’s best forgotten. Carroll on the other hand is an effective 3 and D player that will most likely be comfortable in the Spurs’ rotation. He is hardworking and has helped the Nets, Hawks and the Raptors in his previous stints.
Carroll can guard the 3 and 4 and if situations call for it, can stretch to lock down the opposing team’s point and shooting guard. Him and LA can guard the post and perimeter defense. Offensively, he can score on his own. Carroll can knock down 15-footers, can do the offensive glass and garbage points well.
The Spurs are known for their defense,and it’s time to bring that back this season. Dejounte Murray, Derrick White, DeMar, LaMarcus and now, DeMarre can all play D. If the team can improve on this aspect that they once dominated, they can make for a Playoffs berth. Offense wins games, defense wins championships, as they say.