Clippers Vs. Spurs - A Spurs Blogger Answers Your Questions

Tonight is the third meeting of the season between the Clippers and the Spurs. I've exchanged questions with blogger SpursfanSteve from the SBNation Spurs blog Pounding the Rock for each of those games (check them out here and here), but frankly I was running out of things to ask.

But I knew that the Citizens of Clips Nation would have all kinds of good questions, so I decided to groupsource the task. Many of you submitted questions for SfS to answer, and he picked out the best ones (or maybe just the ones he wanted to answer). His responses are below.

We did the same thing on Pounding the Rock, so you can look for my answers to questions from the PtR community over there. Let me know what you think of this variant on the Q&A process. I think it went well, and certainly as an alternative to the blogger-to-blogger echo chamber it's worth doing in the future. In fact, it may be that this becomes the de factor standard, since you guys can probably come up with better questions than me anyway -- after all, there are more of you.

Thanks, Steve for the great answers -- see you next season (or maybe in the playoffs).

NewCavsfan: Did you like the trade of George Hill for Kawhi Leonard?

How has Leonard played so far, and what do you think will be his role in the future? Basically, what are your expectations of him?

SpursFanSteve: Well, that's a good question. I'm having to temper my expectations for him, because sometimes I get a little carried away. I wasn't sure what to think of the trade when it first happened- I don't watch a lot of college basketball, so I'd never actually even heard of Kawhi. I trust the front office to make good decisions, though, and I knew that since George was one of Pop's favorite players- a true, consummate professional and defensive minded guy that does absolutely anything you ask him to- that Pop would have to be pretty impressed with someone to give him up. Turns out, Kawhi is the same type of guy, but taller. Throw in the fact that the Pacers threw in the rights to a couple Euro guys who might crack our rotation next year, and we absolutely stole the show with that trade. He's played pretty well already and I think he's got the potential to be a more defensive minded player that can score efficiently when called upon. He's not going to be Rudy Gay or Danny Granger, but he'll be significantly better defensively and maybe just a tier below them on offense.

wilriv21: Tim Duncan is a PF. Blake Griffin is a PF. Who will have the better career? Most rings?

SpursFanSteve: I've got to think Duncan. Blake may end up scoring more points, but he's not near as polished a player as Duncan was-even when Duncan was a rookie. He was definitely better defensively. I think Griffin will probably win a championship or two, but until he gets fundamentally sound (usually that doesn't happen once you're already in the NBA) on both sides of the ball I'd have a hard time predicting his future be brighter than what Tim's done. Also, in ten years once his athleticism starts to go, is he going to be crafty enough (like, say, Antonio McDyess was) to re-tool his game and remain effective? I don't see the ability there yet, but he's super young and has lots of time to make those adjustments. Duncan, though, could have made that kind of transition any time he wanted because he was so incredibly skilled.

I'm a weird guy. Crazy athleticism isn't as attractive to me as a smooth up and under move- so keep that in mind, too.

banandy: Looking at the upcoming western conference playoffs...which team poses the most problems for the Spurs?

I ask this, because I think the Spurs are the only team that could handily sweep the Clippers in a playoff matchup.

SpursFanSteve: I'm glad you think so. I think that might be a bit optimistic, even for a Spurs fan. You must be one of those closeted Manu lovers- it's ok. Come out. There are multiple communities and maybe even a religion or two devoted to the man. His chiseled Argentine face. The shiny bald spot on the top of his head, his ability to pass, the way he always goes left and everyone knows it but still can't stop him- even his giant..... schnoz. A truly majestic creature. Like the rarest of Pokemon. (Too far?)

Anyway, on to your actual question- Memphis and Minnesota to me are the two biggest matchup nightmares. If Lamar Odom starts playing well for Dallas, maybe throw them up there too. Teams with two big men who crash the glass and can score, and solid wing defense are tough for us. If you can find a way to pack the paint against Tony Parker and keep us from shooting three's, you're going to give us problems. Minnesota has already done it this year and Memphis did it all last series- and while a healthy Manu would have helped, I'm not sure he would have put us over the edge. That being said, I think that we could have beat Dallas and OKC last year. OKC this year, too.

UC.Clipper: As the age of the Big 3 climbs, will the Spurs consider a fire-sale to rebuild the team?

SpursFanSteve: I don't think there's a chance in hell Manu, Parker, or Duncan go anywhere unless they ask to- and I don't see any of the three of them asking to.

Presuming they don’t stumble upon another first round, first overall, pick.

twistedwrister: Can we trade VDN + Jumbaco for your coach?

SpursFanSteve: Sorry to disappoint, but Pop isn't on the block. Those jumbaco ads, though...let me make a phone call. We can work something out. I really shouldn't make trades when I'm hungry.

shap: There has been some debate about the order of the big three on your team.. Until quite recently it felt like Manu had stepped into the spotlight overshadowing an aging Tim Duncan, but with Manu’s constantly wavering health and Tony Parker’s knack for leadership (already a finals MVP), who would you say is the current leader of this team? Or without high maintence egos, does that even matter anymore?

Also..

The Spurs are lauded for their incredible culture within management, and the team in general. The idea of "changing the culture" has been a big sentiment within the Clippers the past couple of years.. As someone who has seen proper maintenance of a winning culture, how do you see the recent direction of the Clippers and their attempts to maintain a winning atmosphere?

SpursFanSteve: Both of these are really good questions. Let me tackle the first quickly: Manu Ginobili is our best player. This is Tony Parker's team, but Tim Duncan and Gregg Popovich built it. There aren't really any egos, though, which is nice. Since Pop built it that way, I guess you could say it's his team, but you only gave me three options and Manu and some of the other's keep saying it's Tony's team so I'll have to agree with them.

The second question. I'll be honest- I haven't followed the Clippers enough to know what direction you're heading in. I think you overpayed for Caron Butler, I think Kenyon Martin was a great signing. The Chris Paul trade was a total steal. I really liked Eric Gordon, but I'm not sure he'll ever be a "franchise player" and I think Paul is, or is at least a lot closer to it. I think for the most part the right moves have been made, but it's too early to tell. Sometimes, franchises make the right move at the wrong cost. It's good for owners to be willing to spend money, but if they spend too much it can send the team spiraling in the wrong direction.

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