Corporate Knowledge: August 3, 2012 – On big men, Olympics, and Nando De Colo


  • “Haddadi’s defensive game is a little bit rough around the edges. He’s got size and talent, but as with many of the players we’ve been covering recently, his decreased mobility makes it hard for him to cover guys with serious NBA quickness. In particular, Haddadi gets tired covering teams that run the pick and roll into the ground, which made him doubly ineffective last season against San Antonio.”

-Aaron McGuire, Gothic Ginobili

From the early to mid portions of Tim Duncan’s championship career the San Antonio Spurs displayed a dominant defense predicated around funneling ball handlers into two seven-foot shot blockers. A quite effective strategy when you have an MVP version of Duncan, even more so when you pair him with David Robinson.

To some, the simple solution then would be to go back to a similar twin shot blocker arrangement. Perhaps that’s why names like Chris Kaman get bandied about so often in our comments section. After all, they’re seven-feet tall! They block shots!

Over at Gothic Ginobili, McGuire—our sometimes stats expert—has taken on the brave task of profiling every legitimate NBA player from last season. I pulled this selection on Haddadi because I’ve seen his name pop up a few times when people discuss possible Spurs targets.

Duncan and Robinson were a unique pairing, not just because their length, but their mobility. After Robinson, an MVP-level Duncan had enough defensive range to cover his frontcourt partner’s lack of mobility or shot blocking enough so that their strengths could shine through.

As McGuire notes, too many NBA big men have trouble defending legitimate NBA quickness. The Spurs, as currently constituted, would love a shot blocker but would probably benefit a lot more from a mobile big man that can disrupt a pick and roll and recover to rollers or shooters.

Last season the Spurs did a commendable job defending the post and preventing shots at the rim. They struggled in pick and roll coverages. Finding a big man with defensive range (the ability to cover ground) should be higher on the priority list than a plodding center merely for the sake of size and an occasional blocked shot.  

  • “If I think about it selfishly, I don’t care. I am done, almost for sure. But it would be disappointing,” said 35-year-old Ginobili, who is playing in his third Olympics after earning gold at the 2004 Athens Games and a bronze medal in Beijing. “But it would be disappointing. If I was 24 right now, I would be crying in the corner that I wouldn’t have this opportunity in my life.”

-via Larry Fine, Chicago Tribune

As we mentioned earlier today, there is some thought that the NBA and FIBA would partner up to turn the Olympics into a 23-under tournament in favor of having countries’ full national teams compete in a World Cup-style tournament.

Such a tournament would be a joy for all basketball fans. But such audiences were going to watch whichever basketball competition was presented regardless. The Olympics are a much grander stage.

Just as hardcore gymnastics or swimming fans need little incentive to watch their best athletes compete in any setting, a basketball tournament will always find its followers. But the Olympics offer a display of athletic feats to those who would otherwise have no interest in basketball.

There are some Olympic basketball stories that deserve to be placed in context beyond just basketball. Ginobili and the Argentine national team winning gold in Athens is one of them, the Dream Team obviously another. And while a teenaged Ricky Rubio destroying other teenagers holds some interest, watching him hold his own against grown men is downright exciting.

Please, David Stern, don’t ruin these experiences for the rights to control and monopolize profits from international basketball.

  • “When we played against France in preparation, I could see in     Nando true form for the first time and I love it,” Brown said. “He had swag, he has the game, he has a hardness that reminds me a little younger version of Manu because he plays without fear, he can get up close and he has great confidence in him.”

-Australian head coach and Spurs assistant coach Brett Brown, hat tip to Air Alamo

So obviously Nando De Colo is not, nor will he ever be Manu Ginobili. But it is encouraging for De Colo to display such confidence. He will need it to get through the rookie lumps he is sure to experience next season. For what it’s worth, Brown also compares De Colo a little bit as Dragic as a player. Probably more in style than actual production.

For now De Colo is still a mystery, but a picture is starting to form.

  • Nando averages nearly as many turnovers as he does assists, and while those statistics look a bit better from a Per 40 standpoint, those are still numbers that surely surely won’t sit well with Gregg Popovich if the trend continues in San Antonio. Of course, numbers don’t tell the entire story, lest we forget the case of Ricky Rubio, whose Euroleague numbers, including his passing, turned fans into critics before he had even donned his Timberwolves jersey. In the case of De Colo, the numbers certainly don’t show his exceptional vision, passing and pick and roll savvy.   One would think that De Colo’s talents, like Rubio, are better suited to the less structured, more wide open play of the NBA.

-Jordan White, Hardwood Paroxysm

White is correct that De Colo’s Euroleague numbers do not necessarily reflect his true value. Though one could hardly expect a similar leap to the one Rubio made. Chances are what we have seen in the Olympics will be a good gauge for what to expect in the NBA, given that the system and roles will be almost identical to what he will play under in San Antonio.



  • imwithstupid

    Nice read Jesse, you have been on a roll!

  • mike

    Ok how about forget da gaurds.n get a big like darko milic.he can help in middle.just to at least take some pressure off of tim.

  • mike

    Ok and ryan richards is going to b an awesome energy guy.i could see richards,lorbek n duncan as the veteran to show these young guys.

  • mike

    Ill say this richards,lorbek and duncan to teach them scary for opposing teams now dats out.


    Apparently the Spurs are interested in signing Andre Blatche off the waivers. Even though he’s a knucklehead, I feel like the Spurs could discipline anybody and at 6 11, he gives us some desperately needed length in the front court. If the Spurs do indeed take him off the waivers(although Miami has interest in him to) I feel like that would pretty much put the nail in the coffin of Blair’s career in San Antonio given all the speculation of a possible trade involving Blair.

  • imwithstupid

    He cleared waivers, no one wanted to bid on him… Guess this means there could be lap dance Wednesdays at Rick’s hosted by Blatche in the near future.

  • Tim in Surrey

    Blatche has been a knucklehead, it’s true. But it should be pointed out that when he joined the NBA straight out of high school he was joining a team led by Gilbert Arenas. Think about that for a second: A 19-year old kid suddenly made a millionaire, with Agent Zero as the guy to look to for a role model. Blatche might still turn out to be a knucklehead, but it’s worth a shot to see how he handles his first experience as a member of a professional sports organization. Because the Wizards, in my opinion, don’t qualify.


    Do you really think it was more of organization than personal complications? Not questioning that you may be wrong. Just wondering that IF that be the case…I would guess the Spurs would be one of the top destinations for him to go.

    But still…even when he wasn’t a distraction to both his team and himself…does his best performances as a player fit what the Spurs need in the way of bigs? He’s never defended or boarded well. And his “black hole” approach on the offense sure wouldn’t fit with the spread the ball on offense approach the Spurs incorporate.

  • Tyler

    I’d be willing to overlook some things if the player in question played hard all the time; if he had a good motor. But Blatche simply doesn’t and I don’t think that’s something you can really teach.

    Just looking at the type of players the Spurs bring in, one of the common threads I can see is that they are all workers. Take Jax for example. Even though he’s had a few off the court issues, I think everyone would agree he plays hard every second he’s on the court.

    Blatche, for all the “talent” and “potential” he possesses, has never really show a willingness to put in the work. That scares me more than the off-the-court or lockerroom issues.

    Plus, I’d rather keep the 15th spot open as a revolving door for the Toros/10 day contracts.

  • Tim in Surrey

    This is all a chicken and egg kind of situation, so who knows. Remember, this was a locker room full of guns, where guys thought it was funny to crap in each other’s shoes. And even his “good” role models in Washington were guys like Rashard Lewis (see above re: rebounding and defense). That said, Blatche actually made Javale McGee seem well adjusted, which ain’t easy. Again, I’m not saying he’s not a knucklehead. But with his talent it’s absolutely worth finding out if he can learn to play D. Because if you want a long, quick, athletic big who has demonstrated that he can produce at this level, he qualifies. And there aren’t a whole lot of those kinds of guys lining up to play for minimum contracts. Plus, I think the presence of Jax makes it a (spectacularly remote) possibility. He’s got the kind of combination of cred and leadership that someone like Blatche might just respond to–and Jax is certainly tuned in to Pop’s broadcast.

    But yeah, you’re right, it’s probably a dead end.


    No. Not a dead end if all the factors you suggested were to come to fruition. And YOU could be right in that regard. All I have to go by is his past.

    But the Spurs are one of the best organizations for either turning a troubled player into a positive participant OR quantifying a players true personality.


    Speaking of bigs. If Blatche were to become a member of the Spurs at minimum. This trade certainly establishes a 180 front court rotation.
    125% of Smith’s salary (16.5 mil.) would certainly be with in reason for the Spurs to pay Smith for the future. 11 to 12 mil. would certainly be with in the Hawks to pay Milsap for a new deal. Jazz receive 2.5 mil. more in the expirings of Jackson and Blair than if they keep Milsap till the end of the year.

  • Titletown99030507d

    Looks like the Lakers bought yet another string of Championships with the acquisition of DHoward. Crap first they get Shaq in 96 and get 3 titles, then they get Gasol years later for practically nothing and get 2 more titles, now they get Nash and Howard. That’s why they piss me off they buy their Championships. When is the last time they actually won a championship by developing their own players? Bastards.

  • DorieStreet

    Outside of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the ’80-88 group was pretty much built from within— Norm Nixon, Magic Johnson, A.C. Green, James Worthy, Bryon Scott, Kurt Rambis— all began their NBA careers as Lakers. But before, during, and after that (near) decade, LA has always gotten outstanding and superstar players from other teams to bolster their chances to win more championships, year after year, decade after decade.

  • Titletown99030507d

    Exactly, and that was my point it’s been a long time since the original showtime actually accomplished those feats but thru their own development. They are just the yankees now but instead they bounce a ball.

  • DorieStreet

    I left off Michael Cooper (how could I forget him?).
    To show how disgusted many NBA fans are with this most recent episode of ‘The “Let’s Make A (Hellofa) Deal” Lakers’ — I’ve read on a couple of blogs that once Steve Nash finally gets his ring and retires, LA lines things up to bring in Kyrie Irving.
    “The Beat Goes On…..”

  • Graham

    I’m not really convinced this really makes the lakers ‘better’. Sure they are more flashy now, but I really don’t think this moves them past third best in the west still behind us and the Thunder. Nash and Howard together certainly aren’t going to solve the Spurs offense, and is Howard REALLY going to do that much more damage down low than Bynum was? The only new wrinkle is they get a pretty effective PnR game (which is anathema to Kobe’s game) and lose a bit more on perimeter D.

    Not guaranteeing anything, but Certainly don’t crown these Lakers a dynasty yet. After all the Heat weren’t an overnight success, and how Kobe ‘really’ handles now being the third wheel is a huge questionmark.

    With any luck they suffer a playoff beatdown and dismantle themselves next year.


    We can hope it be the case the Lakers don’t vastly improve regarding their off season acquisitions. But I think they’ll be a little more than just a new wrinkle. And as far as Kobe…I don’t envision him being a “third wheel” more so than an intricate part of a now diverse roster and at his tenure in his career will probably be more receptive and rejuvenated in attempting one more title as a participating member than trying to be the focal point of the team.

    We’ll see.


    Wouldn’t surprise me in the least. LA will always have the funds (media revenue) and attraction for premier players to migrate to.

  • Graham

    From what I’ve seen these olympics, I don’t see how kobe can really mesh. He’s every bit the ballstopper Melo is, but he always had the luxury of being the focal point until now. Can he really mesh with a PnR style headlined by the Nash Howard tandem? Recent history says no.

  • Jimbo

    @Graham, I have to disagree. Only three things can stop the Lakers IMO: (1) their age shows and they have a lot of injuries as a result; (2) chemistry problems, probably Bryant shooting 30 shots a game and pissing all his teammates off; or (3) Mike Brown’s poor offense and tendency to play starters 48 minutes a game. But those concerns aside, they are basically an all-star team. Howard is so much better on D than Bynum it’s not even funny. Double teams against they are going to be virtually impossible, unless it’s against Bryant (he might shoot even if he’s triple teamed). The West will be a 2-horse race between LA and OKC, and I think LA will go on to win the title.

  • theghostofjh

    Basically agree. And it’s still hard to believe that Nash is so underrated. The guy is amazing, and now look at the talent around him. He’s going to have a field day.

  • theghostofjh

    He’s never played with Nash before either. He’ll adapt or die. I’ll bet the former.