Perhaps, the San Antonio Spurs believe that they can’t keep up with the Golden State Warriors speed and youth that the Texas team would rather load up on veteran smarts and experience.
The Spurs acquired Andre Miller and Kevin Martin, both from the free agent buyout market, earlier this week and sharing 27 seasons of NBA experience between them. That’s exactly the age of Stephen Curry (27 years old) and Miller-Martin’s combined NBA experience is older than Draymond Green (26), Klay Thompson (26) and Harrison Barnes (23).
Miller is 39 while Kevin Martin is 32 years old—combined, that’s 71, just a shade below the Warriors’ target of 72 to match the all-time record set by the Chicago Bulls in 1995-1996.
The Warriors are on a record-setting pace with a 55-5 win-loss card with 22 games left for the season. By a mile, they are considered the favorites to win the NBA title this season.
However, the Spurs have gone under the radar and almost underrated this year; at 52-9, they are still just four games behind the Curry and the Warriors for the top seed in the West.
The Warriors are motivated to beat the Bulls’ record of 72-10, yes; but they also want that homecourt advantage against the Spurs in the NBA Playoffs, if and when they meet, most likely in the Western Conference Finals.
So why acquire Miller and Martin?
Miller’s lack of three-point shooting makes him a curious acquisition for the Spurs, who is known for maximizing the potential of the shot from behind the arc.
However, Miller is a true point guard and his veteran smarts is important for a squad known for its ball movement. Tony Parker has battled with injuries as well in recent years so Miller will be an insurance at the point guard spot should the French PG get hurt late in the regular season or playoffs.
Martin’s lack of defense and reputation of being a “chucker” makes him an even more curious acquisition for the Spurs, who is known for their flawless ball movement and team play.
However, Martin is a true scorer and his scoring off the bench is important for a squad that relies contribution from the bench. Manu Ginobili has missed a number of games this season due to injuries (groin and old age) while the likes of Jonathan Simmons, Kyle Anderson and Rasual Butler are all serviceable but might disappear or be too inconsistent in the postseason.
Martin will add a scoring punch off that bench and if he adjusts immediately to the Spurs’ balanced attack, he could be an important piece come the playoffs.
No, Miller and Martin won’t stop (or even guard) Curry and Thompson when the Spurs and Warriors meet in the postseason; but they will have minor contributions the rest of the year and playoffs for the Spurs.
Photo courtesy: Keith Allison/Wikimedia Commons