SAN ANTONIO - Learning to play with San Antonio Spurs' Manu Ginobili might prove to be difficult, especially for a new teammate. From his frenetic style of play to pin-point passes from seemingly out of no where, Manu does bring flare to the court which may confound new players as they adjust to his style of play.
The newest member of the team - forward Jeff Ayers - will soon get a taste of life on the court with Ginobili and Manu is expecting to mesh with the big man quickly.
"That is another connection we need to make," Ginobili said. "We need to get used to each other."
Getting used to Manu's style is something that takes time and more importantly, experience.
Since Manu became a Spur, players have learned one thing - expect the unexpected. Look away at the wrong time and you might see a pass from Manu sail out of bounds. Think you are in traffic and Manu will find the seam to get you the ball for an easy layup.
Fortunately for Ayers, he will be coming off the bench with Manu which should speed up their chemistry as the season moves along. He can also take solace knowing he wasn't the first big man to take time.
Tiago Splitter went through "Manu 101" when he joined the team. Fast forward to today and the two work the pick-and-roll brilliantly making the them a nice one-two punch off the bench.
"It used to be Tiago from the bench with me. Now it will be him (Ayers) or (Aron) Baynes," said Ginobili. "I need to know how he rolls on the pick and roll, how he posts up. He has to be able to expect my passes."
The Spurs signed Ayers to a guaranteed deal which means he will be going to battle on the court for sometime. Once the Spurs passed on DeJuan Blair, it opened the door for Ayers to make his mark on the team and be the type of big man for San Antonio that Blair was not.
In a competitive Western Conference - which include big men such as Serge Ibaka, Dwight Howard, Kevin Love, and Marc Gasol - Ayers will have his hands full nightly. However, unlike the aforementioned big men, he will have at his side Ginobili who will find him for either clear looks at the rim or easy buckets, so long as he is ready.
"Usually it takes a bit with guys you haven't played with," Ginobili said. "We both want to understand each other and we are going to do it."
My question is who is Jeff Ayers and should we really care? The rotation is basically already set in stone and I do not see Ayers being any part of it. Also Manu is over the hill now. He sould be worrying about being able to play his next game without falling apart than finding chemistry with a player that will most likely not see any minutes on the floor.
Ayers has looked solid thus far. He strikes me as a cerebral kind of player as well, which is the polar opposite of what DeWhine is/was. I think this well help him to decrease the typical learning curve in SA.
Another reason to love Manu. The guy is a coach on the floor and assumes responsibility for his unit and making sure guys feel comfortable and work well together.
Rebounding is still a big concern for the Spurs. I definitely like Ayers of Blair, much more well rounded game and it's pretty much known that Blair was much closer to 6'6" than his listed 6'9"-Ayers is a legit 6'9". He definitely has a more expanded offensive game.
What is going to be needed from that second unit-and it's going to have to come from Ayers and Baynes, is physical D and rebounding.
As it stands now, the Spurs really only have 2 guys that are known commodities as rebounders: Duncan and Leonard. Rebounding was a huge reason we lost the Finals-giving Miami 2,3, 4 or 5 chances on the offensive end, and not getting enough offensive rebounds. That would have made all the difference in that series if we had someone else Pop could put in to control the boards with Duncan.
Tiago will always be an average rebounder, Diaw, below average, Bonner, a poor rebounder. I don't expect Bonner to get offensive boards as he is a stretch 4 and away from the basket. But on D? The guy averaged I think 1 rb a game. That's tragic. Spurs can't afford to put all that pressure on their SF to pick up the slack of what 4/5's should be doing. Or, to look at it another way, they can't afford to have the top 4 guys they play during the regular season at the 4/5 to only have one (Duncan) who actually is a consistent rebounder. Not fair to Timmy and places too much weight on his shoulders.
All this to say: Here's hoping Ayers and Baynes will provide consistent rebounding on both ends of the court off the bench. If they can do that, then there will be times that Pop can go to lineup with one of them playing alongside TD for the purpose of controlling the boards, at least on the defensive end.
This (rebounding) is a glaring issue.
When Splitter and Ginobili were paired together on the second unit, a couple seasons back, they were wreckin' shop! Even when TJ Ford was here, they (Ford/Splitter) had their fair share of connections. Having a roll guy dive to the basket for easy deuces puts pressure on the defense and gives the player the confidence that they're getting opportunities to contribute on the offensive end. What I like about Ayers is that he has both a soft touch around the rim and/or could finish with authority if need be.
@slapdoghoops Apparently you haven't seen either of the Spurs 2 preseason games or their inter-squad scrimmage. Ayers has played pretty well, showing a nice shooting touch, working hard defensively and running the court. Manu has also played well and has actually been the Spurs best player thus far. The two haven't connected on the pick an roll, but as Manu noted, it is simply a matter of getting to know each others games. If Ayers continues to play well he will have a good shot at supplanting Bonner in the rotation.
@JeffProjectSpurs Blair ate the bar
@gymbear Agree, Ayers appears to be an upgrade over Blair and will give the team the prototype PF size and shooting touch they lacked with DJB. My only concern with Ayers thus far has been his lack of boxing out on the defensive end. I'm attributing this to him still learning the system and being out of place at times defensively, but I'm sure that with more playing time he will improve on the defensive boards, With TD not traveling to Denver, I'm expecting to see a lot of Ayers tonight.