Tim Duncan’s six points and why that might be a good thing

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There aren’t too many nights Tim Duncan will be the lowest scoring big man on the team. Yet, that’s what he was in the Spurs’ 105-83 win over the Atlanta Hawks. Duncan scored just six points on 3-7 shooting in the victory, behind 17 points each from Matt Bonner and DeJuan Blair, and 16 from Tiago Splitter.

Your first instinct may be to think, “crap, that’s not good.” Mine was. Truth is, though, Duncan being the only big not in double figures (I’m not counting Malcolm Thomas here) might be a better indicator of the offense is running well.

Duncan himself can can be force fed in the post and reasonably expected to score. He doesn’t necessarily need a play run for him. The other three get their buckets in the constructs of the offense. Only occasionally do they score by their own devices. I think it’s practically impossible that all three end up above 15 points and it not be a function of the offense running smooth.

And looking at the numbers, the Spurs shot over 50% from the floor. Their offensive efficiency was 108.2, according to Hoopdata. The major glaring imperfection was the 20 turnovers, six of those belonging to Blair. If I may defend Mr. DeJuan for a moment, several of those came early in the game when I thought he was being overly aggressive and his decision making was skewed. He toned it down as the game wore on, but it shouldn’t become a habit. He doesn’t possess the ball long enough to justify multiple turnovers.

The Spurs had a lot of success running the side pick-and-roll on the left side of the floor against the Hawks. Early in the game Tony Parker came off the side screen and whipped a couple of bounce passes down low to open bigs. The first Duncan converted for a layup and the second Blair turned it over forcing a pass to Duncan. When the Hawks adjusted, the Spurs had open shots on the perimeter.

“They have good play sets and pick-and-roll play. They had us confused on pick-and-rolls,” Hawks forward Josh Smith said after the game. “Any kind of step in, they were finding [Bonner] with his quick release.”

Bonner shot 5-7 from 3-point range.

Tiago Splitter also impressed with his back to the basket game, as Tim Varner mentioned in the postgame recap. I can’t tell for sure, but it looks like Splitter has altered his release point on his hook shot some. It’s not higher like one might hope. Instead, I think he’s releasing the ball farther away from the basket, instead of out in front of his body. While not a great improvement, I think it’s keeping the ball and his release farther from the defender and, thus, giving it a better chance of actually going in. Which it did on Wednesday night.

No one will confuse him with Tim Duncan in the post, however. He still had two turnovers out of the post in four possessions, according to Synergy Sports. But with Splitter’s plethora of effective up-fakes, an improved hook shot should send Tiago to the free throw line more, where he’s hitting almost 73% on the season. We shall see.

  • Anonymous

    These out of reach games are the games Tiago should be on the court soaking up minutes instead of putting in a solid 20 minutes they should have rode him a good 30 minutes especially with the way he started playing the game when he came in for the first substitution, but instead had him sit next to Timmy. He’s young he should be piling up the minutes in those cases. Probably would have had 25-30 pts 13 rebounds had he gone 30 minutes. Damn Pop didn’t let him get his double double. But 16 pts, 8 rebounds, 2assists, 1 block shot and +27 still good. I can only imagine if they ride this guy in the low block the entire time his on the court. Oh well I’m starting to get greedy now.

  • http://radsci.uthscsa.edu/index.php/User:Nima Nima K.

    it is a good thing. I agree.

  • http://radsci.uthscsa.edu/index.php/User:Nima Nima K.

    The thing that worries me is what the hell we’re going to do if Tiago goes down with an injury. Our frontcourt will literally be gone. And I fear we wont go that high in the lottery either.

  • chris

    Can’t fathom why Splitter isn’t seeing more playing time, or the ball in the low post more often.  Pop can be hard headed to a fault sometimes.  

  • Aaron McGuire

    A reasonable fear, given that we’re already just 4 wins separated from my projection model’s projection for the Bobcats. Honestly, tanking-on-purpose makes absolutely no sense at this point — even if we finished the season out 10-37 (which would take a huge, incredible tank job), going by my season prediction model’s updated projections… we’d still end up with the 8th overall pick if we had that theoretical 22-44 record. Which is pretty gross. Not worth it at all. We might as well just go for it at this point. Little else to lose.

  • grego

    When you have a schedule like the one you have this year, you don’t want to overplay Splitter in games that are like this. Garbage minutes aren’t as useful for him since he’s playing against other garbage guys. This is the type that Blair and Bonner should pick up their extra minutes. 

  • grego

    He shouldn’t in a game where it turns into a blow out. 

  • Anonymous

    If you’ve followed any college basketball this season and what may seem to come out in next years draft the first 3 picks are going to be good and even picks all the way to 10-12 spots are pretty good enough to get minutes next year and help a team like ours. Some of these big men at the 6’10” range and there’s quite a few after the 1st three picks are pretty good. Man if we end up with a 10-15 pick we might find land something good enough to help in the front court or get a 6’7 true small forward out there. I know we need a big but there will be talent to use at those spots.

  • Bob

    He should at least be starting. His defense will be needed in the playoffs against the big and talented power forwards in the west.

  • Bob

    Bonner and quick release seems like an oxymoron. Seriously, it seems like Bonner has been working on making his release quicker. That will definitely help in the playoffs and in being able to knock down clutch shots. Clutch shots are harder to hit when you take too much time.

  • Anonymous

    I think another thing I’m noticing that Splitter is developing is NBA court vision.  He’s starting to make some nice passes in his repertoire of improving abilities.  He made some nifty passes to Blair and perimeter players in the Atlanta game.

    If this keeps up…I think he’ll be the closest to Duncan regarding not necessarily needing a play run for him.  Imagine having another big that can direct a play from in the post instead of always having to develop it from the perimeter.

  • ZeusVizzle

    Well, I think the front office might be on to something this Summer…

    As per Buck Harvey, the Spurs decided not to pick up the 3rd year option on James Anderson, making him a restricted free agent at the end of the year.

    At the same time, the Blazers couldn’t come to an agreement with Nic Batum as he will be a RFA, too.

    So, knowing the cap situation at the end of the year, we can outbid Portland for his services and perhaps pickup a premier post player to boot (contingent on the more-than-likely scenario of the amnesty of RJ as well as restructuring TD’s contract to a reasonable one). We can pick up a Hibbert, Lopez, Hawes, Ilyasova, J. Thompson, Kaman, Ryan Anderson, or possibly Bynum. I’m just naming those who will be free agents this Summer–not necessarily saying they’ll choose us, but there is always a spec of a possibility.

    I’m pretty sure we’ll make 2 huge pickups this year (not counting a draft pick in a loaded ’12 class) and our future looks considerably bright compared to our 3-year Dark Age (RJ Era).

  • Anonymous

    Exactly.

  • Anonymous

    In a normal season I would have to agree.  In this compacted season, I would tend to disagree.  The evidence of so many players getting injured this season is overwhelming to want to play any player more than they have to.

    If the Spurs are posting a huge lead…no need to subject one of your best players to a grueling experience that may lead to a debilitating injury for the rest of the season.  Keeping all the players healthy so they can play throughout the season is the best way to allow a player like Splitter to garnish more playing time throughout the season to improving instead of him risking injury and having to wait another year to get NBA acclimated.

  • grego

    This is probably why he’s been missing more often. They also seem to be making him dribble and stop for a midrange a little bit more. 

  • grego

    In the post season, sure, but the Spurs have a big hole in the second unit without Splitter or Duncan. Now that Duncan’s minutes have to be managed greatly, it makes no sense to start the two. To close out a game, sure, like the NO one, but no way you can start the two together. Otherwise, their rests would occur near each other. 

  • grego

    And as you say, injuries are a big part of this season. Heck 2 of the 3’s ball handlers are out until late Feb/March… 

  • Anonymous

    I think it makes him (Anderson) an unrestricted FA.  To which the Spurs could not get anything of value from him except his current salary included in next year’s cap space.

    Anybody know for sure?

  • Sam

    i dont know y some fans talk about tanking the season,   we are not in a bad position in the standings.    sure we are not playing at our best potential ,  but it is best not to peak at the wrong time of the season,    remember last season when we had the leading record and had 2 injuries last 2 weeks and lost in first round??.    
    this is a short season,    but we r not playing our players alot of minutes , like other teams.  and jinobli  will have alot of time to find his rythm back and be at his best before the playoffs.      

    even now a top 4 spot is not out of our reach and it is not unreasonable.   (teams like denver , utah, oklahoma, clippers)  are young teams and they are playing well for now but as the season goes they will get tired and they won’t be able to keep this pace up. 

    hopefully by next year rj will be traded for another player (he reverted to his old self)  and kawai can work on a jump shot over the summer.  he will be a better replacement for rj.    

  • Bentley

    No you’re right about Anderson’s contract situation. If the Spurs wanted to resign him, it would have to start at what his option as for next year, which I think is 1.5 million

  • Anonymous

    I don’t agree. I think every opportunity for him playing is only going to make him better.

  • Anonymous

    The reason many of these players in the NBA that are getting hurt were pretty much inactive. I don’t consider a street ball game here and there a means of staying in NBA game shape. Splitter is young and he was playing during the summer in organized professional ball not to mention playing for the Brazilian team also. That in itself has kept him in shape and healthy enough to play even in this shortened season. His confidence is growing every game and it’s translating into quality playing time. I say ride the train while you can it well spell dividends in the playoffs if we get there.

  • Anonymous

    What your treating him like Duncan now? Get him on the court where he needs to be.

  • Anonymous

    No different from what he did in Europe he’s just getting playing time now. This was RC’s pick and now Pop has to live with it. Pop hates being wrong.

  • Anonymous

    I would go after Batum and Ryan Anderson. Ryan is starting to show some game. Kevin Love 1.5 maybe? The only way you get Bynum is through a trade and LA isn’t going to let him go unless it’s DHoward. But they don’t need Howard they need a good point guard.

  • Anonymous

    Next year KL will be just as good as RJ overall or better.

  • Bentley

    I think its pretty sad that all RJ does is spot up in that corner. We all know that Bruce Bowen was very limited offensively except for hitting that same corner 3 pointer. Bowen as a head and shoulders defender than RJ is. For us to pay a guy so much that only gives us about what Bruce did offensively and absolutely nothing defensively is a travesty. I’m hoping RJ will end up in the second unit, because Kawhi will be better.

  • Anonymous

    Which leads me to ask…Parker wasn’t Pop’s choice; Splitter wasn’t Pop’s choice; Green wasn’t Pop’s choice…(don’t know about Ginobili) …just who out of all the Spurs players have been Pop’s choice?

    Out of all the front office personnel (both past and present)…who has the “Final” say so about who the Spurs select if they haven’t been “Pop’s Choice”.?

    I find it odd that so many important players on this team have not been of Pop’s original thought.

  • Anonymous

    I tend to agree with many of your points of views.  On this one I don’t.  The Spurs HAVE to be cautious and prudent (this year) regarding minutes played by their players.

    Don’t get me wrong…I agree (and think) Splitter “deserves” more playing time.  And perhaps towards the end of this crammed regular season he will.  But if the Spurs are going to make the playoffs…I’d just as have a healthy team for the playoffs instead of limping into the playoffs.

  • Deeds130

    Batum has not yet delivered on the promise he showed as a rookie, which was the only year he started. There’s a reason POR didn’t extend him. Hollinger pissed all over his defense, and the kids reputation (due to his rookie year hype) simply outweighs his performance. I expect teams to overbid on him, but the should be measured in their desire. He lacks aggressiveness, deferring too much, and is extremely inconsistent. Maybe a starting role is what he needs, maybe not.

    Bynum is on a team option this summer, so forget it. Honestly.
    ORL will DEFINITELY match on Ryan Anderson. Hibbert will remain a Pacer. Hawes’ injury casts some doubt, but PHI needs him as much as anybody. Lopez is a questionmark, but last I checked he was soft.

    It’ll be curious to see if JA gets offers. A conservative deal in SA wouldve been my move to keep a youth movement going here. Green and Ford could walk, and JA needs time to develop before giving up on the youngman. They kept Hairston around for how long? And cut ties with Beno and Ian prematuely, without upgrading their respective roster spots.

  • Bob

    RJ was playing pretty well when Manu and Ford were healthy. His role with the second unit was helping him.

  • Anonymous

    There’s got to be something in the James Anderson situation that made the Spurs not guarantee.

    Perhaps it’s a simple as them wanting to establish as much finance as they can to land a top F/A next season instead of taking a chance on a player who’s type of foot injury is the type the majority who suffer this type of injury don’t fully recoup from.  History shows that many players that have suffered this type of foot injury have vanished away from the player they used to be after suffering such an injury.

  • Deeds130

    Is this injury comment pure speculation on your part? His struggles this year don’t seem to be related to his physical ability, as much as his as yet undeveloped style of play. If what you’ve written turns out to be true, then the 19 other teams were right in passing on him in the draft, and the Spurs’ gamble was a poor one… hardly the steal of the draft.

  • Deeds130

    Buford gets credit for drafting Ginobili.

  • Anonymous

    “Is this injury comment pure speculation on your part?”

    Waiting on permission to post the link where I read about the number of nba players to have been adversely effected by this type of injury.

    But one big name to have his career ended by it is Yao Ming.

  • Anonymous

    If they keep running Parker at the mpg they have been running him at…your worst fear just might come to fruition.  He can not continue at this pace (this season) and expect to be 100% come playoffs.

  • Anonymous

    By declining it at this point he gets kicked off the rookie scale.  If they end up resigning him, they won’t be looking at a mandatory jump to 7 or 8 million per year after his 4th year like they would if he were to play out his entire rookie contract.

  • spursfanbayarea

    Unfortunately thats not saying much. He already impacts the game in more ways than jefferson. 

  • Tyler

    Not true. All 3 you mentioned were in part, Pop’s decision. Pop is also the president of basketball operations for the Spurs. If he didn’t feel comfortable bringing them in, most likely they wouldn’t be playing for the Spurs.

    The great thing about the Spurs organizations is that they let their employees do their job. Peter Holt isn’t overruling Pop or RC, and both Pop and RC really listen to their scouts. 

  • Anonymous

    From  http://www.spurstalk.com/forums/showthread.php?t=190368

    “Unfortunately, after feeling pain in his right foot, an MRI showed a
    stress fracture in his fifth metatarsal. Anderson had surgery to insert a
    pin to help stabilize the bone. A couple months later, he was back on
    the court — but he hasn’t been the same since.

    Shooting went from Anderson’s biggest strength to his most glaring
    weakness. Last season, he hit just 8-of-26 three-pointers (30.8%) after
    his return. This year, he’s even worse, having hit only 6-of-28
    three-pointers (21.4%). For a player who hit 38% of his three-pointers
    in college and 50% of his three-pointers in the NBA, it’s been a
    stunning drop.

    At first, I attributed Anderson’s drop in shooting accuracy to a small
    sample size exacerbated by an inconsistent role. But after researching
    the history of players who suffered similar injuries, I now think it’s
    his injury that has sidetracked his shooting.

    Travis Outlaw, Roddy Beaubois and Brandon Jennings all recently suffered
    similar injuries and underwent similar surgeries. Outlaw went from
    being one of the best bench forwards in the NBA to being literally the
    worst player in the NBA — mostly due to a lost shooting touch. In his
    two years prior to his injury, Outlaw shot 39.6% and 37.8% on
    three-pointers, respectively. Last year, he shot 30.2% on threes. This
    season, the 27-year-old is shooting 14.3% from deep.

    Beaubois might have seen his stock drop even further. After his rookie
    season, the Mavericks went on record as saying they wouldn’t trade him
    for anyone outside of the two best players in the NBA. That year, he
    shot 40.9% on three-pointers. But after his foot injury, he shot 30.1%
    on threes in his sophomore season. Currently, Beaubois has gone from a
    player the Mavs built their marketing campaign around to a guy with an
    uncertain future in the league.

    Jennings suffered his fifth metatarsal injury last season. Prior to his
    injury, he was shooting 36.7% on three-pointers (and he shot 37.4% the
    previous season). After getting the surgery and returning to action,
    Jennings was just 51-175 on three-pointers — or just 29.1%.

    Going further back in history, George Lynch had the same procedure prior
    to the 2001-02 season. He was coming off a season in which he shot
    44.5% from the field and made 15 three-pointers. But after returning to
    action, Lynch shot just 36.9% from the field and made just one
    three-pointer in 45 games.

    Bill Walton’s career was derailed by a fifth metatarsal injury. Yao Ming
    injured his fifth metatarsal in 2006. Previously, Yao had only missed
    two games in his first three seasons in the NBA. After the injury, he
    was never healthy again.

    And let’s not forget David Robinson. The injury that forced him to miss
    the entire 1996-97 season? A broken fifth metatarsal. And while Robinson
    was still a great player after returning to action, he never did
    reclaim all of his previous athleticism (thankfully, he had athleticism
    to burn).

    In researching fifth metatarsal injuries, the main reason why this
    injury is so damning is because the foot never regains complete mobility
    or stability. In fact, I read a study that shows that up to 40% of
    athletes will require further surgery after the initial procedure. Of
    the players I listed, Beaubois, Walton and Yao needed multiple
    surgeries.

    Another player, Damion James for the Nets, injured his fifth metatarsal
    last season and underwent surgery. This year, he experienced more pain
    in his foot and tests showed he needed a second surgery and is now out
    for the season. (By the way, he too saw a drop in performance following
    the injury. The second-year forward shot 44.7% as a rookie but only
    37.1% from the field this year.)

    Could the Spurs have decided to not pick up Anderson because they don’t
    think he’ll fully recover? It’s possible — and the above examples show
    their skepticism may be valid. Even worse for Anderson is the fact that
    he suffered a fifth metatarsal injury to his left foot when he was in
    high school. I couldn’t find an example of a player who had a successful
    career after injuring their fifth metatarsals in both feet”

  • Anonymous

    Thanks.  And it doesn’t surprise me that’s how it’s done.  I was just wondering if Pop has ever picked out a player on his own and said…”That’s my guy”.

  • AS

    As Thiago, Manu was playing professional ball during the summer and….

  • Anonymous

    What I meant to say better in the system.

  • Anonymous

    Do really think will keep RJ next season and give up $ cap relief?

  • Anonymous

    I wouldn’t let Green walk. It’s his aggressiveness  on the defense that motivates the 2nd unit. Not to mention he gets up in peoples grill and swats away some shots. He has good timing. 

  • Anonymous

    I don’t know about all the others you mentioned but as for Splitter I read it in a sports magazine and even heard it from some color analyst as saying Buford was high on this kid early in his European career. Before the draft comes around I think they both go to a fancy bar and grill get blitz on beer and wine and appetizers and draw toothpicks to see who picks who. But that’s just my guess.

  • Anonymous

    Heard it with my own ears on a telecast that RC initiated that pick now as to deciding maybe they both came to an agreement in selecting him.

  • Anonymous

    Tiago played a little more. He played for Brazil and one of those Spanish teams. And he’s way younger than Manu and even Tony. He can handle it. It gets me that probably 90% of the people on this blog wrote him off last season while I was bitching to get him more playing time when he was healthy (and he was healthy toward the last part of the season) and felt he was useless but now they want to pamper him so he doesn’t over excert himself. Get real! He needs to play and play a lot while he can. This is when you put the gas pedal down to the floor and let him go.

  • Anonymous

    What are we being careful he doesn’t get a Splinter? He’ll get one sitting on the bench.

  • Anonymous

    I feel sorry for whoever guards Love. Don’t let me down Tiago. That’s asking a lot. The only way you get good is to get schooled by the great ones. Hope it’s not that bad. What I want to know who is guarding Rubio? GSG!