The lack of size in the San Antonio Spurs' front court isn't a secret. Boris Diaw and DeJuan Blair are both undersized. Matt Bonner is a surprisingly good post defender (in addition to his obvious shooting prowess). Then there's Tiago Splitter. Tiago's really good, you guys. He can score in the low post, he's a great roll man, he can pass. He can rebound pretty well and he can defend the post. He's so skilled that if he got starter minutes, we'd be talking about Tiago Splitter as an All-Star candidate.
There were just a couple of problems Splitter's first two seasons in the league. The first is that between injuries and the lockout, Splitter never had a full training camp to acclimate himself to the Spurs' system. It appeared that in his second year he was beginning to pick up the Spurs' offense but his ability to adapt to the Spurs defensive system lagged. This was especially true in the playoffs when he looked lost at times on the court. Second, the Spurs haven't figured out how to use Splitter and Duncan together. Both have high basketball I.Q.'s, both can pass and if Splitter goes to the low block, Duncan can step out and shoot a 15-18 footer. For all of the above reasons, you would think coach Gregg Popovich will figure out a way to get them on the court together especially against team like the Lakers, Grizzlies and Mavs, all teams that still frequently use a two big system.
Don't let Splitter's post season, especially his lackluster series against the Thunder, dissuade you from his value. Splitter's per 40 minute numbers were staggeringly good. He averaged 19 points and 11 rebounds per 40 minutes last season. He's a deadly pick and roll partner with Manu Ginobili and makes defenders pay who allow him to get deep post position. According to NBA Advanced Stats, Splitter show 72 percent from the restricted area, which is obnoxious for a guy that uses a funky baby hook more than he dunks.
It's easy to say Kawhi Leonard's development in year two is the most important ingredient to an improved Spurs' season. It is going to become incredibly important, especially if he can become a lockdown defender. However, improvement from Splitter is even more important than Leonard. An improved Splitter means easier baskets, hopefully more stops on defense and more rest for Tim Duncan. We're all watching Kawhi Leonard's development, but let's not forget about Splitter's improvement as he enters his third year (and first with a full training camp) with the Spurs.
Oh I forgot about splitter, Good article Now I know why pop doesn't want to sign curry nor powell. I think pop is teaching tiago to be a good low post defender and scorer and I think he'll improve well these long season.
Tiago plays scared, and that's one thing Pop won't tolerate. Package him with Bonner and either Neal or Joseph, and ship him to Cleveland for Varejao. You'd be saving Cleveland about $14M in salaries for 2013-2015. Neal rolls off next summer, Joseph has one additional rookie contract year, plus options if they want, and Bonner can be bought out for $1M next summer. Tiago would be a good transition player for them as they rebuild, and there would be no pressure for him to wilt under there.
Tiago is trying to adapt and support in his role. He needs to be more of "the man" down low on offense. He does have good double moves that he gets layups on. His confidence needs to grow. He needs to take more personal responsibility about defending the bucket too. He roams on defense and his man goes back door on him too much, or he will be too focused on wings and not come over and help defend a driver coming straight to the basket. Tiago better work on his free throws as well. He is unacceptable in that department. With that said, he does have a high IQ and his numbers don't lie. I really like his game and so does Pop. He had a disappointing Thunder series, but he was not the only one...that's for darn sure. If we want to get to the finals, Tiago definitely needs to AMP IT UP !!
Go Spurs !!!
Tiago Splitter can score in the low post? The only post move I've seen him execute is the hook shot which barely goes in. He gets most of his points off passes from Parker or Ginobili during pick and rolls. He's a terrible free throw shooter (who air balls back to back free throws?), and he always seems scared and uncomfortable in the paint. He can defend the post? I do remember Derrick Favors abusing Tiago during the Utah series last year. I've seen plenty of times where Tiago would be one on one with his guy in the paint, no double team or anything, and he would just scan the floor looking for someone to pass to instead of taking his man on and scoring by himself. When you said Tiago is so skilled that with starters minutes, he'd be an all star candidate, I almost fell out of my chair. That is arguably one of the most outrageous things I've read in a LOOOOONG TIME! I love my spurs and I hope that we win it all, but Tiago an all star candidate if he only got extra minutes? That is blasphemous! He may be good and play better and be more productive with more minutes, but an ALL STAR CANDIDATE?????? Blasphemy! Tiago is decent at best. It's not like if Pop adds on 10 more minutes to his playing time, Tiago will start producing 20 ppg and 10 rpg, that is not it at all. I don't know why so many people like Tiago's game, I have not been impressed with him one bit.
@ajd21 I couldn't quite tell, you're saying you're not a big fan of Splitter's game?
@yowhatupT It's not like I absolutely despise Tiago's game, because there were times where he played well and was productive. But the majority of the time, he disappoints me. I just haven't seen him do all that much. I understand his first two seasons weren't great with injuries and the lockout and whatever, but from all the hype about this guy coming to town, I have not been all that impressed. I could be wrong for this season for all I know, Tiago may come out balling and be a stud. I sure as hell hope that happens, and I want him to prove me wrong, but right now, he's mediocre and decent at best.
@ajd21 @yowhatupT If Tiago got twice the minutes that he gets now, his stats would be comparable to howard's and bynums... but of course, there are a lot of factors not taken into account (fatigue, opponents on the floor, etc.)... but the stats are comparable...
NAME MPG FG% FT% OFF DEF RPG APG SPG BPG TO PF PPG
Splitter 38 0.618 0.691 3.2 7.2 10.4 2.2 0.8 1.6 2.94 4.54 18.6
Howard 35.2 0.558 0.692 3.2 8.6 11.8 1.4 0.4 1.9 2.53 1.73 18.7
Bynum 38.3 0.573 0.491 3.7 10.8 14.5 1.9 1.5 2.2 3.24 2.94 20.6