There's an incredible emergence from San Antonio Spurs starting center Tiago Splitter. Described as a disappointment his first two years, he's now seen an improvement in his play that's energized the team.
He's been running the floor, defending better, rebounding, and making his free throws. Some may argue that we shouldn't be too surprised at this new Splitter as its final year on his contract, but Splitter has a different take on it.
"I think it's a matter of trust. What I do now as I did before in my career in Europe, but now I do it with confidence....I know I'm going to have my minutes, my time in court and I know I can fail" (ESPNDeportes.com)
It seems the pressure is off of Splitter now that he can play his game without worrying about if he'll get benched or not. He's running the floor quicker and not second guessing if he should pass or shoot. He's also developed an inside game with a hook shot, something he hadn't had the last two years. While Tiago gives us a different explanation, there might still be a fear he's over performing because he's looking for a longer and bigger contract next year.
Either way, the Spurs have one goal this year and that's to win another NBA title. Whether Splitter is playing up to his potential or playing for a new deal, the Spurs and their fans are hoping he can keep this up when the playoffs begin. With a more active Splitter starting, that likely makes Tim Duncan the fourth or fifth option unless needed to put his stamp on the game. This saves Duncan's knees and keeps him healthy for the drive to a fifth NBA championship.
A more active Splitter also leaves Spurs fans with a better picture of what they can expect once their current core of stars retire. He's still young at 28 years old and with the league being less physical, it could help Tiago's long term future with his athleticism and height. Spurs fans will keep tuning in to see if Tiago can keep it up, but at least Splitter knows he's earned his minutes out there with his play and there's no short leash to his minutes.
I don't think it's a matter of either/or. It's both, quite frankly. He is playing and building upon his potential because that's what he's paid to do. And the better he becomes, the better off the team and his career. If he was lazy, selfish, or had the footwork or work ethic of an old and Charles Barkley, he wouldn't be here. And logically, like any player in his position, one would assume he would like to be rewarded for this hard work in the present with efficient minutes to help benefit the greater good of the team and at some point down the road acquire a bump in salary.
WE still need to find and develop and post scoring threat to replace TD. Not necessarily all of TD qualities but more of a threat than Tiago Maybe Baynes or Richards can develop to fill this role. A guess an athletic 4 like L Sanders would suffuce.
I thought it was going to be Kawhi's improvement that might push the Spurs over the top, but lo' and behold it might be Splitter's.
@merkin I thought Leonard was the future but his game is going backwards...
I don't think it's going backwards, it's just slow to develop. I think Pop is taking a long term approach--no need to overburden the youngin with scoring responsbility when the team has no problems scoring. Instead Pop wants him to focus on the defensive end and allow his offense to progress slowly.