Rudy Gay

Warriors vs. the West: How Dubs match up against Spurs in 2019-20

Warriors vs. the West: How Dubs match up against Spurs in 2019-20

For the first time in five seasons, the Warriors find themselves in new territory entering the 2019-20 season. With Kevin Durant gone to the Brooklyn Nets, Klay Thompson rehabbing his surgically repaired left ACL and eight new players on the roster, the Warriors are not the preseason NBA title favorites. 

As the Warriors reconcile a new reality, the rest of the Western Conference has retooled with superstar talent. Over the next seven days, NBC Sports Bay Area will examine teams that are expected to challenge Golden State's Western Conference throne.

First up: The San Antonio Spurs. 

Offseason transactions

In an offseason dominated by superstar player movement, the Spurs biggest summer splash was the re-signing of forward Rudy Gay, who agreed to a two-year, $32 million contract. Gay averaged 13.7 points in one of the most efficient series of his career. 

Joining Gay in San Antonio was DeMarre Carroll, who was acquired in a sign-and-trade with Brooklyn and agreeed to a three-year, $20.65 million contract. 

Spurs rounded out the roster signing big man Trey Lyles and drafting Luka Šamanić, Keldon Johnson, Quinndary Weatherspoon. But perhaps the biggest addition will be the return of point guard DeJounte Murray, who missed last season with a torn ACL. 

Strengths

The biggest strength the Spurs have maintained since Tim Duncan's retirement is coach Gregg Popovich. Despite the departure of Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio won 48 games behind the core of DeMar DeRozen and LaMarcus Aldridge. While DeRozen shot a career-high 48 percent from the field, Aldridge had one of most efficient seasons of his career, averaging 21 points and nine rebounds on 51.9 percent.

With the duo's effectiveness, the Spurs were among the best shooting teams in the league last season, making 47 percent of their shots, second only to the Warriors. 

Under Popovich's leadership, the Spurs have made the playoffs the last 22 seasons, a streak that should continue with the current roster.

Weaknesses

The Spurs were one of the worst defensive teams in the league, posting a 110.5 defensive rating -- 11th worst in the league. 

Part of the slump could be attributed to the absence of Murray, the team's best perimeter defender, and Leonard's departure to Toronto. However, with the additions of Carroll and Murray, the unit should improve.  

How the Warriors match up

With eight new players on the roster, the Warriors have very little idea of how cohesive the team will be by their first matchup against the Spurs on Nov. 1 in San Francisco. Worse - with Andre Iguodala traded to Memphis and Thompson out - the Warriors will be without two of last year's top perimeter defenders.

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Compounding their wing defensive woes, Willie Cauley Stein is the only true center on on the Warriors roster, meaning Golden State could struggle against Aldridge in the frontcourt.

Until the Warriors find a defensive identity, the Spurs could be a problem this season.

Examining long road Kevin Durant faces in recovery from Achilles injury

Examining long road Kevin Durant faces in recovery from Achilles injury

Kevin Durant revealed he had surgery on his ruptured Achilles tendon Wednesday.

Now comes the hard part.

Durant faces a long road back in his recovery. Just how long is hard to say right now, but by looking back at the recovery times of other players with similar injuries, we can get a better idea of when he might next be able to play in an NBA game.

Sportsnet's Faizal Khamisa has done just that, compiling a list of prominent NBA stars that have torn their Achilles tendons and their respective recovery periods.

As you can see, there's a reason why an Achilles injury is considered to be one of the worst an NBA player can suffer. Of those five players on the list, the average recovery time was 280.6 days.

Durant's recovery clock started Wednesday. That average recovery period would have him returning to game action on March 19, 2020. For reference, the Warriors played the final 12 games of their 2018-19 regular-season schedule after March 19 this year.

So, yes, it's possible Durant could play in an NBA game next regular season. But, as we know, no two bodies are the same, and recovery times vary from individual to individual. Typically, the track record for players returning from Achilles injury has been better for smaller types, and less so for big men. 

Durant's current teammate, DeMarcus Cousins, ruptured his Achilles in January of 2018. Not only was his recovery the longest of the five players Khamisa listed, but he also clearly hasn't fully regained the form he had before the injury.

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Whether or not Durant is able to do so is up in the air, and will be for some time. We have no idea how his body will respond, nor do we know which team and doctors will be assisting in his recovery. His impending free agency looms over all of this.

The Warriors are certainly hoping to retain him, but more importantly, they just want to see him back on an NBA court in the not too distant future.

Kevin Durant injury: Two NBA players share experience with calf strains

Kevin Durant injury: Two NBA players share experience with calf strains

The immediate reaction was a fear of the worst. Twitter doctors everywhere concluded Kevin Durant tore his right Achilles tendon when left Game 5 during the third quarter Wednesday night. 

A collective deep breath was then felt from Oracle Arena to NBA Twitter from one single tweet. 

Durant suffered a right calf strain and did not return to the Warriors' 104-99 win over the Rockets, which gave the Dubs a three-games-to-two series lead with Game 6 coming Friday. Spurs forward Rudy Gay, however, had a hunch right away that the injury was to the calf and not Durant's Achilles. 

Gay, then a member of the Sacramento Kings, tore his left Achilles tendon in January of 2017. He played 57 games the next season for the Spurs, averaging 11.5 points per game, which was the lowest since his rookie year. 

Eddie Johnson, who played 17 seasons in the NBA, offered insight into what a calf strain could mean for Durant and the Warriors in the playoffs. 

Durant strained his calf last season, too. When the injury occurred, he missed three regular-season games over seven days. Coach Steve Kerr reportedly has already ruled his star forward out for Friday's Game 6.

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Durant will undergo an MRI for further results on Thursday.