Whether or not you think he’s a good fit for the San Antonio Spurs, there’s no denying that Tiago Splitter is getting better. He’s had slight improvements this year in almost every statistical category. Even more than that he just seems to understand things better. He looks a lot more like an NBA player than he did when he entered the league two years ago.
Splitter has appeared in all 50 games this year for the Spurs, starting in 28 of them. He’s scored in double figures every game for the past month, bringing his scoring average up to 10.6 points per game. He even dropped 25 on New Orleans a couple weeks ago when Tim Duncan was out with an injury.
Even the biggest Tiago Splitter critics (myself included) have to admit there’s been a big improvement. We’re seeing a more confident, effective guy down in the post, but where is this change coming from?
“I think it’s a little bit of everything,” Splitter said. “Understanding the system better. Being here with Pop longer. Having more confidence with him. Getting more minutes and experience on the court.”
Confidence is probably a big part of it. When Splitter started in the NBA, he really looked scared out there. Even though he’s almost seven feet tall, he played like he was the smallest guy on the floor. Now he goes after rebounds more aggressively, he drives harder to the rim and he plays like he’s not afraid to go against anyone in the league.
For the Spurs, this comes at a great time. For the past few years, the team has been looking for a big man to shoulder some of the load from Tim Duncan. It’s even time to start thinking about life after Duncan. Could Splitter be the guy to follow in TD’s footsteps?
I’m not ready to go that far. I don’t think the Spurs are convinced either. They brought in Aron Baynes and now we have rumors of a trade for Al Jefferson involving Splitter. But no matter what the Spurs decide to do, if Splitter stays in the silver and black, he’s going to be a big part of the post game for a long time to come. Hopefully he continues to improve.
The starting Center for the Spurs is almost 7'ft tall averaging 5.8 rebounds per game. The starting Small Forward is 6'7" averaging 5.5 rebounds per game. At half-time, Splitter had 8 points and 3 rebounds in 14 minutes. Dejuan Blair had 2 points and 5 rebounds in 5:38 seconds. Splitter finished the game with 10 points and 6 rebounds in 28 minutes. Blair finished with 8 points and 10 rebounds in 15 minutes. I can understand having off nights, but this is the usual from Tiago Splitter. It's like he's comfortable with his performance. He was given more minutes with Duncan not in the lineup and still had the same old numbers. Al Jefferson in 28 minutes against the Bulls already has 9 rebounds and 26 points, and it's still a lot of time left in the 4th Quarter. Spurs need better. For those of you who think rebounding doesn't matter, think again. The Pistons out rebounded the Spurs 49-33 in tonight's loss. If we had rebounded, more than likely we would have won tonight.
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