Best in West?

With little fanfare, Tim Duncan and the Spurs look like title contenders.

Updated: March 13, 2003, 12:57 PM ET
By Bill Walton
It doesn't matter that the Spurs have a point guard, Tony Parker, who's playing in just his second season. It doesn't matter that their center, David Robinson, is a shell of the player who's had a Hall of Fame career. And it doesn't matter that their two athletic swingmen, Stephen Jackson and Emanuel Ginobili, have played few NBA games with much at stake.

What does matter is that the Spurs are legit contenders in the Western Conference, and it boils down to two key factors: coach Gregg Popovich has done a remarkable job in assembling the top "character" team in the league; and, most important, Tim Duncan has been phenomenal in pulling together a roster populated by a bunch of no-names. NBA Insider and Basketball Hall of Famer Bill Walton will again serve as a game analyst for ESPN's NBA telecasts. He joined ESPN and ABC Sports' in their inaugural season of NBA coverage in 2002.