Robbed of a legitimate chance at the 2017 NBA Championship due to devastating injuries, many question if the San Antonio Spurs dynasty is indeed over. Tim Duncan is gone, while it’s only a matter of time before Manu Ginobili follows suit. Tony Parker’s leg injury may not allow him to play effectively anymore, while David Lee had to be carried out of Game 3 vs the Warriors on a wheelchair, so who knows if he’ll ever be the same as well.

Despite their season ending in a disappointing Game 4 home loss, there are various bright spots in the Spurs organization that can keep their excellence going for the next 20 years as well.

Kawhi Leonard

The 15th overall pick in the 2011 draft has made all the teams that passed on him regret their choice. Solidifying himself as arguably the 2nd best player on the planet behind LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard put up a career best 25.5 points per game, having increased his scoring average every single season he’s been in the league. His newly found offensive arsenal, along with his prowess as the best perimeter defender in the NBA, give the Spurs their superstar for the next 10 years.

The Western Conference Finals would most likely be tied 2-2 right now had the 2 time reigning Defensive Player of the Year not suffered an ankle injury in Game 1. The MVP candidate will come back hungry for redemption next season, so when you start betting on the 2018 champs, keep the Spurs in mind, again.

LaMarcus Aldridge

Few, perhaps none, received more criticism than LaMarcus Aldridge through the 1st three rounds of the playoffs. In the series vs the Houston Rockets, the 5x All-Star went up and down, having a good game one night and struggling the next. It was against the Golden State Warriors, however, that he somehow failed to perform anything like his old self. Despite the injury to Leonard, one could say that this series would still be on if Aldridge played like he is capable of. This raises an interesting question: Should the Spurs trade their power forward?

Impending Free Agency

Six Spurs will become free agents this summer. Manu Ginobili is a lock to re-sign for the minimum if he doesn’t retire, and Johnathon Simmons will get some love after putting up notable performances in Leonard’s absence. Dewayne Dedmon, Pau Gasol, and Lee all hold player options.

This leads up to the million dollar question: Who will start at point guard for Gregg Popovich in 2017-18? It certainly won’t be Tony Parker, due to age and injury. Patty Mills has been with the Spurs since 2012, and was a contributor to their 2014 championship run, he loves his team and his city and would like to stay there. If Mills does indeed return, he may find himself playing behind the likes of Chris Paul or Kyle Lowry.

Nine-time All-Star Paul is still in search for his first ring, which probably won’t come from the Los Angeles Clippers. The same can be said for Lowry and his Toronto Raptors. At any rate, San Antonio will certainly receive heavy consideration from both star point guards.

Let’s not forget that the Spurs hold the 29th pick in June’s draft. Keep in mind that franchise legends Parker and Ginobili were late picks. Whatever happens, it may not be too early to say that whoever wins the 2018 NBA Championship will either have to beat the Spurs or beat a team that beat the Spurs, as has been the case for the past six years. Never count the silver and black out. They’ve been good for a fifth-century, and will continue to be so for many more years.

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