Going from playing, and even dominating, overseas and then transitioning into the NBA via draft or free agency signing can be quite humbling.
Even some of the most highly-touted international players never make it in the NBA or have rough transitions before carving out a role.
It's rare to see a player like San Antonio Spurs guard Manu Ginobili go from playing in Italy to making an impact on a championship team the next year.
If anyone can speak of this transition period, it's soon-to-be third-year Spur Tiago Splitter. Splitter was considered the best big man internationally for years and dominated while playing for Caja Laboral. Everything seemed to be lining up for Splitter to have a good rookie season, especially when many Spurs veterans spoke so highly of the Brazilian in training camp.
But after being injured in training camp and struggling to find a role, Splitter's rookie year was littered with bumps in the road. Last season, he showed marked improvement after playing a full training camp and finding a spot in the rotation. Splitter still has plenty of work to put in and he'll have to show even more improvement in his third season.
With rookie Brazilians Fab Melo and Scott Machado entering the league, Splitter warns his fellow countrymen of the trying times they could have in their first NBA season, noting his experiences.
Game 6 of Western Conference finals last season, against the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Brazilian took an earful from coach Gregg Popovich after not executing what he was asked. By the same token, he is cautious in giving advice to two compatriots who are about to debut in NBA: - It is never easy because it depends on many situations of minutes on the court, not having injuries ... I wish the best for them, but I notice that it is not easy. My first year was the most complicated, adapting to the new style of play.
Splitter also said, via R7 Esportes, that Spurs forward Tim Duncan has helped him along the way.
He helped me from the beginning, especially in my second year. This is a guy who has already shown, within and outside the court, how special he is.
Having Duncan work with Splitter is important if the Spurs plan on using Splitter in the post-Duncan era, and it'll be equally as important this season if the Spurs want to make another run at a title.
With the Thunder remaining strong, and the Lakers becoming an early favorite, unless the Spurs are somehow able to bring a decent big man aboard, Splitter's performance against bigger teams could be a key to their postseason success.
Splitter also said that while the Thunder, Lakers and Heat are early championship favorites, the Spurs should not be ignored, regardless if they are favorites or not.
If Splitter takes another positive step in his career, he can assure they'll receive plenty of respect and attention.
The reason Splitter did not play much against OKC in the WCF is simple, Splitter did not have the talent to stay on the court. He shot 37% from the free line (hack a Splitter) and 2.8 rebounds. If Splitter played 36 minuntes a game it would only be 7.6 rebounds a game and that "won't cut it" so Splitter became a complete liability. Although Splitter made improvement from the previous season, and averaged 5.8 points a game in the playoffs, which was mostly against Utah and Clippers, Spurs need two more bigs to replace Bonner and Blair. Splitter's talent is very limited, but he can be a solid bench player.
Pop is such a great coach with a great system that it hides Splitter, Bonner and Blair weakness in the regular season, but in the playoffs against teams like OKC and Memphis you cannot hide the weakness. OKC has some of the best talent in the league, thats why they had 4 Olympians. OKC has two of the best Bigs in the game in Ibaka (blocks) and Perkins (defense) their Big off the bench Nick Collison is equal or better than Splitter, Bonner and Blair. Thats why Splitter, Bonner and Blair did not see much time against OKC in WCF because Pop new he could not match up with OKC's Bigs.
@PopKat What do you think of splitter now? do you still think collison is equal or better than splitter ?
Splitter's stats look good and are similar to that of Collison wth the exception of avg 10 pts, so at this point through the regular season Splitter stats are better than Collison. But Splitter must show up in the playoffs with identical numbers or better in order for the Spurs to have a chance. Splitter cannot disapear in the playoffs as he did in last year's WCF againt OKC.
@PopKat We won 20 games in a row. By playing the way we played all year. We lose one game and pop changes the line up. We won games because we played our game, if we lost we lost but we played our game. We went away from what got us there and we lost. We were up 2-0. There is absolutely no reason for losing four in a row.
Yea 20 games in row, WOWt, but its not a championship. You see, regular means nothing, it only fills up the seats in regular season, the ring is what we are after. If you really want to understand the playoffs and why a team loses look at the stats in the playoffs. Scott Brooks is a good coach but he is not a better coach than Pop. Pop just had less talent., You fail to relize playoffs are different than playoffs..
Spurs lost 4 in a row because they do not have the Bigs. Look at their stats.
Face it, OKC has better talent than the Spurs and coaching can only take you so far.
can you retrieve the Spurs training camp roster, if so can you forward website. Thanks
@PopKat @mjs2377 Ya, it would just be a choice on who they thought most likely would help us get over the hump re: trading Jax..Imo a lot depends on DJB and Splitter. If DJB ACTUALLY improved, we may be able to use him in crunch times( but dont bet on it) And Splitter I do actually expect to improve a bit. If DJB is the same guy, we really need to package him and Jax and go HARD at a good big.
And those bigs I used were just as example for what many bigs make $ wise (although I do think more than a couple of them could help us more than Jax) I also didnt list any younger less expensive bigs..could go that route as well and possibly bring in 2 guys..
France bigs were Ali Traore http://london2012.fiba.com/pages/eng/fe/12/olym/player/p/eid/6232/pid/38129/sid/6232/tid/282/profile.html
Kevin Seraphin (Washington Wiz) http://espn.go.com/nba/player/_/id/4289/kevin-seraphin
And of course ronny turiaf (now a clipper) http://www.cbssports.com/nba/players/playerpage/555979/ronny-turiaf
Imo Kevin Seraphin would be the only choice, but it sounds like Wiz are high on him now.
Altough I somewhat concur with respect to $10M salary, I'm not a fan of trading Jax, he is such a clutch shooter, was clutch on the team he received a ring on and played clutch in the WCF especially the last game. Jax also provoides tough attitude and in conjunction with Lenoard played respectable defense against Durant. We are going to need that tandem against Durant.
I will agree Verajao is a player that would work, contract would be an easier fit at 25 mins a game, at 7 and 7, but I did not realize he was 29,. so he may have playoff experience.
In the past, Byron Scott has missed out on talent that San Antonio has captilized on i.e., Jax and Danny Green, so you may have something.
In the Olympics, France had a couple of athletic Bigs that look pretty good. One of the guys was left handed I think he was 6'10 and 250. I really like him. There was another guy but he was already in the NBA, I thought he was with Toronto.
Not really a fan of Josh Smith and contract (13M) but his game would be a good fit, he's an athletic Big. Horford has a nice game and mentailty, but big contract at 13M.
Not impresse with the others.
@PopKat @mjs2377 There are loads of bigs we could chase if we shop Jax and one or 2 of matt, blair, or neal. That would get us in the realm of 11 -14 mil players...think josh smith, horford, Andy Verajao, Nene, McGee, Bogut, T Chandler, etc. There will be teams really wanting that 10 mil expiring deal of jax to be serious players for FA in summer (cap room) etc...Jax alone could get us Andy V+ Casspi (and if its obvious Cavs got no shot at POs as season goes along, a forward thinking FO would seriously consider a deal like that to be serious players in FA)
I love Jax as a spur, dont get me wrong, but reality is, he is not close to being actually worth 10 mil as a player.
Yes ideally we need a player who can give us 10, 10 and 1.5 blocks approx 30 mins. Reason: Most pure scorers have a bad games in the clutch and/or playoffs. We do not need a one dimensional player, but we need rebounding, defense and block shots first. There are no bad days for defense.
The 6'10, 6"11 atheletic players hat I wanted to see as a Spur have already signed or been traded to new teams, so at this momemet I don't know who we can get.
Spurs desperately need a Big who can compete and/cover the outstanding young Power Forwards in the west. Nobody has won NBA championship with spreading the floor on onfense and no defense. We don't have any defense. Our defense needs to be ranked in the top 5 to have a chance at a championship.
Thanks. From my perspetive, Pop did the right thing in benching Green and I consder it a typcial NBA playoff adjustment, but Ibaka's 11 of 11 performance was a game-changer. It was completely unforseen and that's when the series changed to OKC's favor. From that point on, the Spurs had to respect his outside shot, which meant defensive adjustment as he was no longer a one dimensional player.
Yea, I had fogotten that Danny Green had a bad playoff series against OKC. He lost his confidence, 3 point shot and on a critical play he let Cephlosa get an easy offvensive rebound when he should have blocked him out. And as you stated, since he had no playoff experience and little NBA experience these were the reasons and they are acceptable.
But Bonner's performance, who has plenty of NBA and playoff experinece is unacceptable.
Do you know what game Ibaka went 11 of 11? If anyone knows please reply.
@mjs2377 Honestly, I think it wasn't just that DG's #s going down that prompted pop to bench him and change the lineup..I think DG did something else to make pop think DG wasn't likely to rebound from it quick enough. Maybe he got too down on himself or something. I could definitely see that happening to a young guy with virtually no playoff experience and little NBA experience. I'm pretty sure that's what happened with JA too. Confidence was shot. Pop tried to do something to turn that around, and the gamble didn't pay off..simple as that. Sometimes you have got to make tough decisions.
I expected Spurs to loose the third game and maybe the fourth game thats just NBA playoffs. From my perspective the series changed when Cepholosa guarded Parker and Ibaka hit 11 in a row and they weren't all dunks. What game did Ibaka go 11 for 11.That was the back-breaker the real difference in the series and once again this the area of the BIGS, where we are weak.
All i'm saying is after game 3 when we lost by 20. Pop made a change in what the team had been doing for the last 10 straight PLAYOFF GAMES which they won. 2 or those against OKC in the PLAYOFFS. I'm fine with OKC have more talent and beating us. I'm not fine with changing what we have been doing for the last 10 PLAYOFF GAMES after one lopsided lost. I don't think Pop was out coached by Brooks. I think Pop coached himself out of the game.
All this being said I do want us to get some size. I think bonner needs to go before blair. if you can get rid of both for a solid big man great. And tiago is a big I believe can score is and average rebounder. He will never turn into something great but he is very capable of being pretty good.
@PopKat Unfortunately..you are correct
Can someone explain to me why tiago only played a few minutes in the last three games against OKC. Actually, why did he only average 12 mins a game in the playoffs. He shot 63% from the field. I agree that we need more size. But he was our size and POP didn't play him.
I do think that pop did a terrible job against OKC. We had the players to beat OKC. As cool as pop is during the regular season, always acting like whatever happens happens. As soon as OKC beat us in game 4, not game 5 he freaked and changed the line up. OKC knew he was scared and it showed. I love POP but OKC beat us mentally and that's a coaches fault. The Bottom line is we had enough to get there. I think the FO knows that and are not going to do something stupid. Don't get me wrong I would love to get rid of bonner and add a bruiser defensive player. But if we don't I hope Pop does a better job this time around.
@mjs2377 TS was making the same defensive mistakes repeatedly apparently..thats why pop freaked on him