3-on-3: Personnel moves and the postseason

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truehoop-network-3-on-3In this edition of 3-on-3, we provide quick reactions to the Spurs recent personnel moves, the latest of which is the signing of Boris Diaw, in advance of the playoffs. Our players are Aaron McGuire, Jesse Blanchard, and, making a guest appearance, Wayne Vore.

1) Boris Diaw? Does this signing look better on paper or on the court?

Aaron McGuire, Gothic Ginobili/48MoH: On paper, it doesn’t actually look that great. Diaw’s production has tailed off significantly since Phoenix, and his currently awful shape is the stuff of legend. On paper he’s worse than any of the big men we currently have on the roster. But when actualized he can be a large, floor-spacing PF to spot Tim minutes and get Tiago more time. That’s a good thing.

 

Jesse Blanchard, 48MoH: The only paper we have to judge by is what Diaw accomplished in a terrible situation in Charlotte. Similar paper trails showed Stephen Jackson to be a terrible acquisition. On both fronts I believe the Spurs are better equipped to maximize their unique skill sets.

 

Wayne Vore, The Big Fundamental:  I think anything the Spurs get from Boris Diaw on the court is better than it looks on paper. On paper, it cost them nothing. Whatever Boris can give is a plus.

 

2) How would you grade R.C. Buford’s performance over the last month?
McGuire: A-. The only minus is that he had to give up a pick to get Jefferson off the books, and that’s why it isn’t a perfect ‘A’. But Buford has put the Spurs in a position where they’ll have max cap space to play with in the 2013 offseason while simultaneously upgrading some bench spots as we prepare for a playoff run. What more could he have done? Not much.

 

Blanchard: B+. Buford upgraded the small forward position while saving money and at worst threw depth at the two glaring holes in their roster. Given what was available, the Spurs came away a deeper, more versatile team without really losing anything or taking on significant salary.

 

Vore: An A-. I’m holding out A+ to see what the team does in the summer and how much Capt. Jack gives us next season. I’m also interested to see the terms of Diaw’s contract. If R.C managed to get him for another year or two at a very low salary then he’s a master ninja. Which we knew already.

 

3) How do the recent personnel moves effect the Spurs’ championship hopes?

 

McGuire: While none of the acquisitions are very large in theory, this could be a Green-for-Perkins type addition by subtraction swap. With Jefferson gone, Kawhi and Neal will get more playing time. With Diaw in the picture, Tiago can spend more time at center without Tim. With Green gone, Ibaka was free to eat more minutes and transform the Thunder from a good team to a contender. That could happen here with Kawhi and Tiago. I think the moves will help the Spurs’ cause.

 

Blanchard: Interior defense remains the Spurs biggest problem, and that wasn’t really addressed, though they have doubled down on versatility and firepower. But the Spurs title hopes rest on the Big Three and the additions biggest effect would be the additional depth preserving Duncan, Ginobili, and Parker for the playoffs.

 

Vore:  I think Jackson for Jefferson increased the championship chances so far as Jackson provides more of what the team needs — playmaking and defense — and the other moves don’t effect it much at all. Tony’s hammy, Tim’s knee, and Manu’s body are where the championship hopes rest.
  • theghostofjh

    Aaron:

    “But when actualized he can be a large, floor-spacing PF to spot Tim minutes and get Tiago more time. That’s a good thing.”

    Why would this give Tiago more time? The point of getting Diaw is to allow Pop to feel more comfortable in giving Bonner LESS time. Diaw is really not much different than Bonner as a “floor-spacer”, especially in the playoffs (where Bonner as a threat falls off the map), but he’s a better all-around player. Diaw theoretically gives Pop some reason he may be able to justify to himself to reduce Bonner’s minutes, but we’re still going to need Blair’s rebounding and inside scoring presence next to Duncan. And as you know, there’s only 96 mpg. to spread around at the 4/5 spot.

    “With Diaw in the picture, Tiago can spend more time at center without Tim.”

    But again, why? Diaw and Bonner (Tiago’s best potential partners) are average to below-average rebounders at best. And Tiago is a modestly above average rebounder himself when you take into account the opponents he typically goes up against. Tiago already plays with Bonner often. Diaw could only steal the minutes that Bonner already gets with Tiago, and the minutes that Bonner already gets with Duncan. Conceivably, Diaw could also steal some minutes from Blair, but that would hurt our inside presence and rebounding, and the Duncan/Blair tandem is 80-25 in its last 105 games of starting together. Why mess with that?

    And as far as the general conclusion rendered as an outgrowth of the rest of the article, the championship hopes (slim as they are) rest on pinning Bonner’s butt to the bench as much as possible against most match-ups in the playoffs, and instead go mainly with Diaw & Splitter off the bench. That’s a must. Then, everything else in the heavens would have to just about perfectly align. For example, we’d have virtually no chance if we, as is common, shorten the rotation in the playoffs. We simply must get a lot out of all of our top ten players. The big three are obviously critical, but they are not durable/young enough in playoff intensity BB to carry the team for heavy minutes all the way to a hoped for championship round. Not gonna happen.

  • Jacques

    This is totally unrelated, but ESPN thinks DeJuan Blair is a point guard hahaha 
    http://espn.go.com/nba/team/depth/_/name/sa/san-antonio-spurs

  • grego

    But again, why? Diaw and Bonner (Tiago’s best potential partners) are average to below-average rebounders at best. 

    >Leonard has been in a lot of those lineups. With the spacing, it’s easy for him to sneak in and overpower his defender, who isn’t used to being in the lane. You can’t do that with Blair since his guy will be stuck in the paint. 
    Now if we are talking about defensive boards, the rebounding differential between Bonner and Blair is not that big. 3.2 rpg vs 3.0 rpg. For a guy known for his rebounding prowess, he grabs less than 4 a game. And he’s being beat by Leonard. 

    Now, Diaw with the Spurs will likely have more opportunities, so I’ll wait and see on that one. 

  • Aaron McGuire

    As things stand, Tiago can only play with Tim and Bonner. If we want to give DeJuan any minutes they need to be with Duncan, and Tiago can only spell Tim if Bonner is on the court. There’s a general precipitous quality to our big man rotations where certain guys require certain guys, and can’t spell them. By acquiring Diaw we now have a rotation where Tiago can play with 3 players that deserve minutes, Duncan can alternate to forward if he chooses on a more regular basis, and we simply have more flexibility. Given that Tiago is our best non-Duncan big by almost any means of measurement (and our best chance at fighting back against the Lakers in the playoffs) anything that can increase the number of minutes he CAN play is a good thing for us.

    On the rebounding front, it is true that Diaw/Bonner are poor rebounders. I’d note however that Blair’s rebounding has collapsed since his rookie year, primarily due to the fact that teams have a better sense on how to properly box him out now and keep him from getting into his rebounding sweet spots. It’s a minor fallacy to assume that a lineup with the 6’7″ Blair instead of the 6’8″ Diaw is going to be significantly worse on the boards — Diaw isn’t a fantastic rebounder, but he’s about equal to DeJuan’s current state. And in terms of his inside presence, DeJuan has been bollocks this season inside — Diaw and DeJuan are about equal there as well, unfortunately. Both are below average at the rim, though Diaw is significantly better with his back to the basket in close range. 

    Kawhi’s emergence as a rebounding wizard has taken a lot of the pressure off of our bigs to rebound effectively, though, and in that sense the fact that we’ve already traded RJ and given Kawhi more minutes should allow Pop the levity to play poor rebounding frontlines like Tiago-Diaw or Tiago-Blair a bit more often. And in turn should improve the team a bit. I think that Bonner would have to play 15 or fewer minutes per game in the playoffs for the Spurs to win out, but I also think there are certain teams he kills every single time that he’d need to get decent time against — specifically the Thunder, who Bonner has essentially destroyed for the last 4 years running. That said, yes, our chances at a title are rather slim. I do think what R.C. did at the deadline should improve our shot while improving our long-term flexibility, though, and at this point of Duncan’s career that’s a wonderful thing to get out of a relatively quiet deadline.

  • Tyler

    Diaw, Hollins, Turiaf, et al were released for a reason. I’d be surprised if Diaw has any impact in the Spurs’ playoff run.

  • Bankshot21

    Something tells me they meant to put Gary Neal. Lol

  • theghostofjh

     “If we want to give DeJuan any minutes they need to be with Duncan, and Tiago can only spell Tim if Bonner is on the court.””IF” we want to give DeJuan minutes? Look what happened last year when we took DeJuan out of the starting line-up, and cut his minutes back, particularly in the playoffs. As I said, the DJB/TD pairing is 80-25 in the last 105 games. Would a different pairing really have a better record? I doubt it.”Given that Tiago is our best non-Duncan big by almost any means of
    measurement (and our best chance at fighting back against the Lakers in
    the playoffs) anything that can increase the number of minutes he CAN
    play is a good thing for us.”I disagree. It’s not the absence of additional Splitter minutes that’s the problem as much as it is the excess of Bonner minutes. Bonner is simply not a meaningful threat to opponents in the playoffs against the vast majority of match-ups. He is hurting the team by taking minutes away from Blair, probably Diaw, and even Splitter in some cases. And please don’t reply back to me with Bonner’s +/- numbers. We could be here for days debating a topic where firm and meaningful conclusions require a minutia of statistical data, some of which we simply don’t have at our disposal (it isn’t tracked).”I’d note however that Blair’s rebounding has collapsed since his rookie
    year, primarily due to the fact that teams have a better sense on how to
    properly box him out now and keep him from getting into his rebounding
    sweet spots. It’s a minor fallacy to assume that a lineup with the 6’7″
    Blair instead of the 6’8″ Diaw is going to be significantly worse on the
    boards — Diaw isn’t a fantastic rebounder, but he’s about equal to
    DeJuan’s current state.”Number one, Blair’s rebounding has not “collapsed” since his rookie year, and Diaw is far from “about equal to Blair’s current state”. Blair’s rebound rate his rookie year was 20.6, and now it’s 15.6, yet still good for 19th out of 80 qualified PF’s in the NBA according to Hollinger. Conversely, Diaw is ranked 68th. Also, “height” does not always make a good rebounder. There are plenty of shorter bigs that out-rebound taller bigs (also, Blair’s standing reach of nearly 9 feet may very well be higher than Diaw’s).One of the biggest reasons Blair had a high rebound rate his rookie year is because he was not playing much at all with Duncan (the 7th best rebounder in NBA history), and he was playing much more against inferior 2nd units. Conversely, a high proportion of Blair’s minutes this year have been with the revived, 6’11”, long-armed Duncan, who is currently 3rd in the entire NBA in defensive rebound rate. “DeJuan has been bollocks this season inside — Diaw and DeJuan are about
    equal there as well, unfortunately. Both are below average at the rim …..”
    Your very article, posted earlier today on this blog I believe, shows that DJB’s FG% at the rim is SECOND highest on the entire team (a full 5.6% ahead of Diaw), only behind Splitter, who regularly goes up against inferior competition.

    ” ….. though Diaw is significantly better with his back to the basket in close range.”Well, we don’t really need the guy playing with Duncan to be that great with his back to the basket because Duncan does his share of that himself. Also, I don’t see any data presented that looks at back to the basket FG % from up close. I don’t think there’s a significant difference there between Blair & Diaw. Your article shows Blair at 38% from 3-9 feet, and Diaw at a steaming 40% (probably getting some of these close in makes in the excess of blow-out games with Charlotte), though this did not distinguish between back to the basket and face-ups.”Kawhi’s emergence as a rebounding wizard ….. should allow Pop the levity to play poor rebounding frontlines like Tiago-Diaw or Tiago-Blair a bit more often.”I agree, to a certain extent, but the Spurs are not exactly lighting the world on fire in total (16th) or offensive rebound rate (26th), and Blair is by far our best offensive rebounder. I see no case for running line-ups too often that reduce our rebounding effectiveness (a HUGE part of the game), or in not keeping significant minutes for the Duncan/Blair tandem, who again, are 80-25 as starters together over the past two seasons.”I think that Bonner would have to play 15 or fewer minutes per game in the playoffs for the Spurs to win out …. “I’d say 10-12 minutes max, though this could be highly variable between games or series depending on the match-up. Maybe 18 mpg. (if he’s shooting well/aggressively) against the Thunder, but probably very few against the Bulls, for example.Finally, I agree that the Spurs moves before and just after the deadline were helpful. The Jackson deal alone could pay some dividends in a number of ways.

  • theghostofjh

    Blair starts every game. Bonner & Leonard have not. Blair plays against superior players on the glass, and he plays with the 7th leading rebounder in league history, and the 3rd ranked defensive rebounder this year at age 36. Duncan of course also has the reach, and 5 inches in height advantage on Blair. If Blair played off the bench and little minutes with Duncan, his rebounds would kill Bonner and Leonard at both ends (and Leonard is an impressive rebounder for a small forward – very Gerald Wallace-like).

  • STIJL

     Reason being for Diaw…he simply had no desire to play inspired ball on a team that wa going nowhere fast.

  • STIJL

    Wow…great read that I just now happen to open and some of my comments being influenced after the victory over Dallas last night.

    The obvious of the big 3’s health will always be the contentious factor in the Spurs chances for a successful playoff run.  That aside…the recent acquirements of Jackson and Diaw can also be considered as “addition” without so much the subtraction theory to the Spurs chances of playoff success giving their level of past talent and experience if both rise to levels they once exhibited. Which I think could easily be the case in a different environment AND being they are not that far removed from productive status in this league.

    What I think is an under tone to these recent events is the fact that Diaw and Jackson were once teammates on a once playoff contentious Bobcat team.  And probably become a solidifying agent for the primary bench unit for the Spurs.  Think about it…once the team is healthy…a bench of Diaw, Jackson and Ginobili?  Throw in Splitter…and the recipe is there for a second unit that would probably be the starters for the majority of nba teams.

    To that…this may have been the case of preparing the Spurs playoff chances even if an injury were to happen to one of the big 3 but agree if any one of the big 3 get injured the road to the finals is traveled via the detour route.

    Though be it with some very capable wheels compared to last season.

  • Len

    The never ending discussion.  How about if we just agree that adding Diaw to an already deep team gives Pop ALOT of options.  And that’s a good thing.  Bonner, Blair, Splitter and Diaw all brings distinct skill sets.  All have things that they each do quite well and things that they stink at.  And most importantly, ALL the strengths and weaknesses are different.  This gives Pop options when it comes to matching and hopefully over matching teams in the playoffs. 

  • theghostofjh

    I agree with much of what you say. But Aaron was suggesting that the addition of Diaw likely means more minutes for Splitter, and implied that Blair could be the odd man out by receiving less minutes. I merely explained why I disagreed with that argument, and that it is Bonner that should have his minutes reduced on average with the addition of Diaw. Other than that, I do agree that getting Diaw is a net positive for the team, however, that positive IMO would be negated if Blair’s minutes are cut back in any substantial way overall in favor of Diaw/Bonner.

    In my view, assuming they all play every playoff game, the following should roughly be the AVERAGE mpg. for the five bigs:

    Duncan: 32
    Blair: 20
    Splitter: 20
    Diaw: 14
    Bonner: 10

    If we do some “small ball”, reduce everyone’s minutes by 1-2 per game.

    If we sit one of the bigs in some games, on average Bonner should sit the most.