The Spurs are once again the No. 2 team in the Western Conference and a given to qualify for and contend in the playoffs. A recent hand injury to Pau Gasol, however, could change that. Ben Alamar of ESPN has explored the impact that Gasol’s absence will have in San Antonio, citing the big man’s staggering efficiency from mid-range as one of the biggest voids that the club will have to fill.
On the other side of the ball, Gasol has long-established himself as a heady defender capable of providing paint protection. This will now fall to reserves Dewyane Dedmon and David Lee. Though Dedmon and Lee have been respectable back ups this season, Alamar isn’t sure they’ll have the same impact as Gasol has with his ability to block shots and limit his fouls.
Gasol, Alamar writes, is second on the Spurs in defensive win shares behind only Kawhi Leonard.
The veteran was scheduled to undergo surgery to repair the hand fracture on Friday. No recovery timetable has yet been announced.
There’s more out of the Southwest Division:
- Though not shy about expressing his frustration with a lack of playing time, Alexis Ajinca has reportedly not requested a trade from the Pelicans, tweets Justin Verrier of ESPN. Ajinca has racked up 11 DNP-CDs since his last legitimate taste of action on December 23 and has played just three minutes total in January.
- Offseason addition Mike D’Antoni has made a serious case for Coach of the Year, writes Chris Mannix of The Vertical. His decision to move James Harden to the point has been one of the highlights of his brief tenure. “I watched a lot of tape of him,” D’Antoni told Mannix. “His skills are enormous. Point guard made sense. He was that anyway. We just cut the fat off. The way he plays now, he’s making an impact every minute. So we can play him less minutes. And he’s fresher.”
- The 2016/17 campaign won’t go down in history for the Mavs, at least not in a good way. Eddie Sefko of the Dallas News has come up with a list of things that have officially gone wrong, chief among them significant injuries to Dirk Nowitzki, Andrew Bogut, Devin Harris, Deron Williams and J.J. Barea (again).
- For the first time this season, the Spurs featured Dejounte Murray prominently in their rotation and the rookie guard responded with a career-high, 24-point showing. “I felt like I had a rhythm the whole game,” Murray told Jabari Young of the San Antonio Express-News. “I was confident even before he Gregg Popovich told me I was starting. I always stay ready. … My teammates, when they heard I was starting, they cheered me up tried to keep my confidence high.”