The San Antonio Spurs have arguably gotten better during the offseason and two of the main reasons are the arrival of Tiago Splitter and James Anderson.
Splitter finally came over to San Antonio after three long years. His basketball credentials are well chronicled. He averaged 15.7 points, 6.7 rebounds, 1.9 assists on 58.3% shooting from the field and at the ACB Spanish league where he was named the league MVP.
In the Euroleague, his numbers were also a solid 13.0 points, 5.4 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 53.5% field goal shooting. And in the 2010 World Championship, he managed to held his own against the world's best big men as he led Brazil to a 9th placed finish while averaging 12.8 points, 5.2 rebounds on 54.2% shooting from the field in six games.
On offense, Splitter is primarily a low post player, with great footwork and spin moves. He's good when playing back-to-the-basket and has an effective jump-hook. He can also finish with either hand and is extremely aggressive on putting the ball on the floor and has excellent coordination and fluidity. With his skill-level and high basketball IQ, he can be a good low-post scorer in the NBA. Tiago also has good passing skills, runs the floor pretty hard and is very adept playing the pick-and-roll.
On defense, he will be a huge asset because of his size, strength and length. He is mobile enough to step out and hedge screens with great accuracy. The intensity he displays on the defensive end of the floor tends to get him in foul trouble at times, but this is something that coach Pop will probably talk with him. For him to be effective, he has to learn how to stay on the floor.
Nevertheless as good as Splitter is he not a great rebounder and has become even less productive in this department especially on the offensive end and his lackluster free throw shooting is something he needs to improve.
Anderson was a prolific scorer in college. He averaged, 22.3 points, 5.8 rebounds, 2.4 assists on 45.7% shooting from the the field, 34% from behind the arc and is an 81% free throw shooter, numbers that earned him the Big 12 Player of the Year honor.
During drills prior to the 2010 draft, Anderson looked excellent, knocking down spot-up three pointers with ease and looked very smooth coming around screens. Sadly, a hamstring injury prevented him to play at the summer league where he could've showcased his talent and skills more.
Nonetheless, a lot people, including ESPN's Rece Davis and CBS Sports college basketball analyst Clark Kellogg, are impressed with Anderson's basketball skills and great character and believe he can fit right in to provide an immediate impact for the Spurs. Whether it is accurate or not, we will soon find out.
At 6'6" Anderson has the size to spell either Manu Ginobili or Richard Jefferson as the teams' backup shooting-guard and small-forward. Jefferson is the only "true" small forward in the roster with Alonzo Gee probably getting a few minutes at the three spot should the Spurs decide to bring him on the roster.
Andersons' terrific range and smooth shooting was impressive in college and coach Popovich seemed pleased with what he has to offer. After overseeing his workout since the injury, the Spurs noticed his offensive proficiency and that could be helpful for the team.
Last year, the Spurs traded for Jefferson to provide more offense but it wasn't enough because the team still lacked a reliable outside shooter. Anderson figures to be an excellent kick-out option for the Spurs because of his smooth shooting stroke.
His 34% shooting from the 3 point range belied his shooting accuracy because he was the focal point of the Oklahoma State's offense back in college and he faced a lot of defensive attention. With the Spurs, he will have more open looks as most of the opposing teams' defense will be focused on containing Duncan, Ginobili and Parker.
Know this: Anderson is more than just a spot-up shooter, he can shoot off the dribble, and he only needs little space to get his shot off. Plus he is able to fade away and create enough separation from his defender to get a good look, while still holding his mechanics steady. He is also a steady ball handler, is very under control and turns the ball over at an extremely low rate considering he was the main offensive weapon at Oklahoma State.
However, Anderson was not known for his defense. That will be his main challenge going into the NBA. If he really wants to earn more playing time this upcoming season with the Spurs, he has to focus more and develop his defensive game.
On paper it looks like Splitter will provide more help to the Spurs than Anderson. Nonetheless, if Splitter's arrival made the Spurs frontline looked better, Anderson definitely made the backcourt deeper and with more firepower.
If both these players impress during training camp, I wouldn't be surprised to see them on the starting lineup by mid-season especially if Popovich decides to keep Ginobili as teams' super sub.
What are your thoughts? Splitter and Anderson are nice offseason additions but who will eventually provide the greater impact for the Spurs? Leave us a comment.