Defending my change of heart

by

When the dust settled after Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals and the Spurs’ season had ended, a season that for at least a couple of weeks looked like it would be the cherry on top of the Duncan Dynasty sundae, I wanted the Spurs to go back. Back to the years of the Twin Towers. Back to the suffocating defense and inside-out offense. Back to the 92-87 final scores. This new Spurs style in which the silver and black beat teams by out executing them offensively and employing a bend-but-don’t-break-too-often defense had to go.

The Spurs came close last season, but the beauty of relying on your defense is that it’s much easier to battle through an off-day. You can power through a bad day defensively with effort and grit. It’s much harder to hustle your way through a bad or, worse yet, tentative shooting night. This was part of my thinking at the time. Back to what we’ve seen work. Back to the defense.

I’ve since changed my mind.

I loved last season, Games 3-6 of the WCF aside. That Spurs team was beautiful and fun to watch, and we got to see it a lot, not just during the playoffs when a national audience caught on. It hit its peak with a behind-the-back pass in Game 2 of the Conference Finals when Manu Ginobili found Tony Parker in transition for a corner 3. It all went downhill from there, but that’s beside the point. That play was everything that was good about this team.

And they won a lot of games while they were at it. I know some will (justifiably) argue that they didn’t win the ones they needed to, but right now I don’t care. They won a lot of games the last couple of seasons while playing an aesthetically pleasing style of basketball. Some might call it sexy.

As I’ve wrestled with this change of heart, I’ve wondered if it’s enough to simply enjoy watching a team play. The players, coaches and front office should want to win at all costs, with any style of play. To them, winning is all that matters. It’s their job. For me as a viewer? I want to be entertained. Fans and audience members deserve to see a performance. That’s why people tune in to telecasts or go to games in the evenings, in their time after work or school. This is entertainment.

We’re well aware that the Spurs primary hole is a defensive big man to make up for what Tim Duncan has lost with age. Unfortunately, there are only so many defensive bigs in the league. Actually, there are so few defensive bigs. The defensive big man — not the type labeled as such because he’s incredibly raw offensively — but those who simply excel at defense, are scarce and generally hard to find. The Spurs can’t simply sign one for the veteran’s minimum or convince any team to trade theirs to San Antonio. There’s no guarantee the Spurs will find one between now and when Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Gregg Popovich are gone. So what do you do?

It’s hard to argue with reinforcing the advantages you do have. The Spurs boast a beautifully elite offense and spent the summer bringing back players who should be better pieces in it than last season (Boris Diaw, Danny Green and Patty Mills) and another who should fit right in (Nando De Colo). None of those players will help stop Dwight Howard down low or lock down a Russell Westbrook-Serge Ibaka pick-and-roll, but they’ll help the league’s best offense be even more efficient than last season. As much difficulty as the Spurs face defending an elite big man and protecting the rim, opposing teams have the same trouble slowing the Spurs offense when everyone is aggressive.

The days of the Twin Towers are gone. The Spurs will not be a Top-5 defensive team anymore, Gregg Popovich has said as much. They don’t have the horses to hold teams to 42% shooting night in and night out. I’ll look back fondly upon those down. But I’ve moved on, and while it’s unknown if the Spurs’ current style of play will ever win them another championship, I’m in full support of the movement.

  • lvmainman

    I’m disappointed that the Spurs didn’t go after Anthony Randolph in the offseason. I’m even more disappointed that the Nuggets signed him for $2 million a yr for 3 yrs!!! That is only .5 million more than the Spurs wasted on Nando De Colo (He had more turnovers than assists in the Olympics playing with familiar teammates and a familiar coach, I can’t wait to see what he doesn’t do as a Spur).
    The Spurs as currently constructed can’t win a championship without an athletic, talented, mobile, shot-blocking big to counter the Bosh, Gasol, Nowitzki, Garnett, Stoudamire, Zach Randolph, Griffin type 4 men in the NBA on good teams. The Spurs as constructed are in my opinion, behind the Thunder, Fakers, and the Clippers. The Spurs have had the best record in the west 2 years running but have only won 2 playoff series. I’m looking at the Spurs winning the 1st rd playoff series this year and that’s it.
    I applaud Pop for adapting the style of play to his personnel, but I’m disappointed the front office hasn’t done more to address the weakness in personnel.

  • GoSpusGo

    While I found Randolph also to be compelling due to his athleticism, the Spurs have proven time and time again that character matters. The fact that Randolph has played on 3 teams in 5 seasons,and signed for a pittance is a clear indication that he was damaged goods.

    Shot blocking bigs who can guard the Bosh’s,Dirks, Z-Bo’s, etc.of the world are not going to be found in the bargain basement. When you are scraping together ateam from spare parts,sometimes you have to take the best pieces you can find and rearrange your team around them.

    Yes, winning the NBA championship is tough. That the Spurs have stayed relevent in the conversation as a small market, with no high draft picks, and no ability to attract players looking for a big market is a testament to the whole front office.

  • STIJL

    I want it all! Sexy offense and tough defense. Is there no way to accomplish that in the nba? Baseball teams (the good ones for the most part) have both good offense and defense. Most championship nfl teams have both. Good offense and good defense. Why is it hard to put together an nba team that can provide both? I take that back…Miami has both. And soon will the Lakers. Spurs can put a “glamorous” offensive product on the court which is fun to watch….but it’s just as ugly to watch a team that can’t stop an opponent.

    But this doesn’t mean I support the team any less. And the team doesn’t need another “in the post 7 footer” to help it’s defense. Athletic 3/4 types of players are what’s in order in today’s nba regarding what works best defensively. And it’s not necessarily “protecting the rim” that defines a good defensive team anymore. It’s the ability to lock out, adjust laterally, defend the weak side, and close out that best defines good defensive team’s these days. And I think the Spurs could improve defensively without snagging a “premier” talent of that description. They just need to “improve” defensively in the areas I just mentioned. Can they do it with the personnel now assembled? Kawhi and Green are youthful enough to improve so the team already has two that could help. Who I like that the Spurs invited to camp is Derrick Brown. He fits perfectly as that type of defender. If he can prove himself in that aspect…I sure would hope the Spurs don’t eliminate him just because he can’t shoot 40% from the 3.

  • spursfanfromLA

    tiago+ timmeh suppose to be our twin towers >.>

  • SargeSmash

    I think your reaction about defensive bigs not being common is spot-on. Really, how many Duncan-level bigs (even at this point in his career) are there out there that the Spurs could grab? And how many of them are simply a black hole on offense, something that would absolutely destroy the current flow of the offense? They may luck into something eventually, but it’s just that, luck. I mean, how lucky were they to pair two of the greatest defensive bigs of ALL-TIME on the same team?

    That being said, I’d have loved to have taken a chance on someone like Kirilenko, but they were in no position to chase him, anyway. I’m sure the front office has tried their best to get someone in to fill that gap, but I suspect the deals would not have swung the Spurs’ way. I mean, for crying out loud, most of the deals we talk about putting together are for DeJuan Blair and Matt Bonner. I’ve got soft spots for both, but really, how much can we reasonably get back for those two?

    Anyway, I’ll cross my fingers that the FO can work some miracles. Also, remember that Tiago was supposed to be that guy. Maybe he’ll make that jump this year. If he does, we’re good to go. If not… well, let’s hope another year in the offense for the newer acquisitions will carry the day.

  • Tyler

    I’m afraid Randolph will always be high on potential, low on results. It’s tough not to compare him to Stromile Swift….

  • lvmainman

    The fact that Bruce Bowen has played on 3 teams in 5 seasons, shows he’s damaged goods. Oh wait, his number has been lifted to the rafters. Jeremy Lin has been on 3 teams in 2 yrs, but he can sign a contract to be a starting point guard. Gary Neal has played overseas, surely he can’t play in the NBA. People can play in the NBA, but sometimes it takes an opportunity with the right team to excel.
    Anthony Randolph is only 23 yrs old. He has the athletic ability to be good. Will he? I don’t know. But, was he worth the risk? Absolutely. When the Spurs play the Nuggets, I’ll look to see if he outplays the Diaw/Blair/Bonner combo.

  • Graham

    I’m willing to trust the Front Office’s evaluation of prospective players over our pipe dreams. They are VERY rarely wrong.

  • Graham

    That’s the thing. It’s not like we’re a defensive sieve. We’re a middle of the pack defensive team that can get abused by a powerful and offensively gifted big man (all what, 3 of them in the league?). Given our options I’m happy with that, wringing every ounce of potential out of our finds and competing hard night in and night out. It’s all we can really ask for in our situation.

  • Titletown99030507d

    Yeah as long as they keep getting undersized 4-5 players like Blair and Diaw they deserve to get spanked in the interior. Who we fooling? 30 minutes for Diaw night in night out only to flame out in the playoffs. that’s what we did with Blair the last 3 years. Since we are talking defense how do you expect to protect your rim with those guys. Yeah Diaw can shoot a three so what? We need him down low to block shots, deter shots and such. I’d rather have Bonner down low guarding the post than Diaw. What the hell is Diaw going to do in the paint on defense? What a joke! You’ll see again when they play the teams that matter and have real post players. You say Tiago sucks. He doesn’t have the luxury to garner 30 minutes a night and polish his game like Blair and now Diaw. Why keep him. Send him to the Lakers, Celtics, or Thunder if he’s that bad. Stop with the nonsense. Small ball will end up sending you home again watching the finals on TV. Got it Pop? And oh yeah you too Andrew.

  • Titletown99030507d

    “Also, remember that Tiago was supposed to be that guy” They need to play him some DAMN minutes first! Oh yeah Diaw is now getting all of the 30 minutes night in night out that Blair had. Good luck with that.

  • Titletown99030507d

    We can’t do that because Pop has undersized crappy players for Timmy to babysit. If we lose the undersized useless weight hanging around we could see that beneficial pairing. Until then Tiago is a wasted commodity. Can’t get better if your on the bench watching undersized players getting abused.

  • Titletown99030507d

    Forgot to mention now we have two Center/PF that are undersized and overweight. The few pounds any of those two shed will be right back on there fat a$$ as soon as the season starts. Ouch did I say that?

  • Titletown99030507d

    Enjoy your spurs during the regular season. It will be fun and exciting but after the 82nd game you’ll need to take those Spurs colored glasses off and accept the reality that is again. I’m pissed on the sorry ass off season we had to address the main deficiency that we have. No I’m not pretending we are going to win another for Timmy. That line is getting old especially with the neglect of improving our front court. Sorry but they made no effort in getting someone for Blair or/and Bonner. Id package both of them with Neal and a first rounder to get some interest just to not see that stupid front court rotation again this season. Bad enough now I have to see Diaw there.

  • GoSpursGo

    All the players you named had very little doubt about their hunger, work ethic, or character(except Neal). The same cannot be said about Randolph. The Spurs are built entirely around culture and chemistry. Why would you sacrifice that to take a flier on a playr who has not impressed anywhere he landed? I know it can be tempting, as fans, to wish for the front office to take wild gambles on long shots, but i think the Spurs front office has earned the benefit of the doubt.

  • Tim in Surrey

    Please everybody, put the Anthony Randolph crack pipe down. There’s nothing there. He’s very, very talented but clearly doesn’t care. It has been four years since he was drafted and he’s the same player now that he was then. He hasn’t developed his game at all and often sleepwalks through entire games. If you have ESPN Insider access, check out his player page and click the “Hollinger” tab to see John Hollinger’s scathing analysis. My favorite part:

    “The defining Randolph sequence came in the final game of the season against Houston. In a close game, late in the fourth quarter, the Rockets were able to get consecutive dunks because Randolph walked back on defense. Not jogged. Walked.”

    The guy has potential but he just doesn’t seem interested in developing it. He may be a perfectly nice guy; just because you’re tall and athletic doesn’t mean you should have to want to play basketball. But he’s of no use to the Spurs because he doesn’t like to play defense and he doesn’t play well within a system. I know you guys want big men, but guys like Randolph and Darko, who don’t particularly care about winning, simply aren’t the answer.

  • STIJL

    “That’s the thing. It’s not like we’re a defensive sieve. We’re a middle
    of the pack defensive team that can get abused by a powerful and
    offensively gifted big man”

    Or talented youthful, quick, agile, athletic 3/4′s. And there’s a lot more of them in the league than prototypical big men.

    But I too can’t wait for the season to start. To see what improvements Leonard and Green have amassed as well as improvements that may have formulated with Diaw, Splitter, Neal and even Blair. I say Blair because it will be interesting to see how he plays after losing the weight he lost in the off season and supposedly developing a more consistent J. And we can’t forget Mills. A full pre-season plus time spent last season and a terrific Olympic performance by him. The one thing the Spurs didn’t have last season they should have unequivocally next season is a dependable back up for Tony. Thus allowing Neal to play at his natural 2G position which I think will help Neal be better than last season.

    By the way…(not directed at you Graham) would be nice to know the reasons one gave my original post a “v”. I wasn’t disagreeing with Andrew. Only saying the Spurs would need to “improve” defensively with who they have and possibly land a decent 3/4 type of defender to help in that improvement without disassembling their current roster.

  • DorieStreet

    Yes, we Spurs fans can be buoyed about the last two seasons–newcomers fitting in and contributing to a team that seldom disappointed in effort and excecution game after game (once the kinks at the start were worked out). But the achievement of that seamless, selfless play, and the always applicable goal of getting better, should have this Spurs team aim and strive to improve on defense in 2012-13—say becoming a top 10 squad in that catergory (by whatever means).

  • STIJL

    Totally agree. And I think they may have the personnel to achieve at least top 10 to 8 in defense if some emphasis on bringing in a talented 3/4 player who doesn’t necessarily diminish the Spurs offensive attack more so than elevate their defense to such numbers. And it wouldn’t take a “premier” defensive specialist to achieve that goal. Just a formidable and talented enough player to implement in times when the offense is hitting a snag.

  • Graham

    Oh definitely on the 3/4 athletic playmaker point. But what teams really can stop the LeBrons and the KDs right now? Kawhi’s shown flashes and SJax is underrated there too. I didn’t mention it because I’m more confident we can get there with the pieces we actually possess right now to develop that versatile Defender

  • Graham

    Diaw had minimal issues with both the Jazz and the Clippers, not sure this is entirely valid. We need Splitter to back up Timmy, since Timmy can’t exactly play the 4 at an elite level against young and talented guys who can play outside.

    All starting splitter will do is stunt our offense and removes a vaulable defensive presence from our 2nd unit for a dubious defensive gain for our starters. Do you really want to see teams with big but skilled 3/4 guys like KD and LeBron carve up that lineup?

    If you have a solution that Hasn’t already been tried (remember what a disaster starting Tiago was in 2010?) I’d love to hear it. And no generic ‘we need to get bigger’ comments,I want names of players we can realistically get.

  • Titletown99030507d

    Your wrong in regards to Tiago stunting the offense. By the way he hardly played in 2010 he was injured! I don’t see why Tiago can’t run with the small ball type of play everybody wants and be productive. That was his game in the ACB. Then again he played real minutes in the Liga. He’s a player that gets better the longer he’s on the court. Pop hasn’t figured that won out yet but I know he has but he has favorites and he don’t like Tiago PERIOD! When Timmy sat and he played butt loads of minutes he performed rather well on the offensive side as well on defense. He’s a waste sitting for Blair, Bonner and Diaw IMO. What? You want to see everybody going down court just to throw up junk at the arc or watch the occasional shot from Timmy at the top of the key. When those shots stop going down all you have left is for everyone to depend on ancient Timmy and like you said he isn’t playing at an eleite level anymore but just having to settle and hoping for his top of the key shot to drop which by the way he missed a butt load of those in the playoffs remember? Tiago is a hell of a lot quicker than Timmy rolling to the basket or has better foot work down low to get inside to score. Now if the can package Blair, Neal, and whatever to get one of those many bigs from the Nuggets crew or even pull in Fesenko at least they can play Tiago a hell of a lot more than the 10 minutes of bones they’re throwing at him.

    Having that extra real big will eliminate the excuse for not playing Tiago longer than 15 minutes because of undersized match ups we currently have.

  • Titletown99030507d

    They carved up Timmy’s line up with Diaw. What now?

  • Graham

    Why would the nuggets agree to that? It’d be trading for more of what they have.

    Specifically I was referring to the Memphis series in 2010 btw, and sure Tiago will be more productive with more time, but he simply can’t play those minutes, not because of endurance, but because he tends to be a foul magnet.

    Again, Timmy Tiago as our 4-5 just substitutes one problem for another, letting the Dirks and the Loves and any other big with a halfway decent shot light us up from outside, or god forbid smallball lebrons, melos and KDs who can iso up on thbe big guarding them with the dribble drive. They can hide them on the defensive end because Splitter’s not as effective if the other team has a decent help defender.

    I like Tiago, but he’s hardly the missing offensive piece you make him out to be, and the end result isn’t an improvement on what we have. Being a top 4 team is nothing to sneer at, and I still like our chances in the playoffs to compete for a title. Blowing the team up now is pointless, just let it ride out while we are getting good results.

  • Titletown99030507d

    Wrong again. I’m not emphasizing putting Timmy an Tiago together for most of the game I just want to see Tiago get more playing time like 20+ minutes that he should be getting. The Nuggets have more 7 footers than they can play in any given game. Either Mozgov or Koufos will be seeing more bench time and either one of those two would fit nicely on the Spurs in regards to shot blocking and rebounding and protecting the rim. and they are not expensive. Trade for either one of them. I’d rather see either one of those two with tiago on the court than Blair or Bonner with Tiago. And that isn’t busting up the team. Your upgrading your front court and getting rid of either one of those two worthless pieces of meat in Blair or Bonner. Bonner doesn’t space jack anymore and Blair well you know his story. Nobody respects either one of them on the court on the offensive side. At least Tiago still garners more respect than any of those two on the offensive side by drawing his man out and allowing for plays to be set up. PNR, SNR. You know the stuff we all saw he does best at. He’s behind Chandler in FG% I guess you forgot that.
    And oh yeah why don’t you piggy back on top of each other (literally) 2 guards to cover KD or Melo (not impressed), or LBJ since Pop is overdosing on guards. Please next.

  • Bry

    Tiago’s minutes are somewhat limited (although he did have nearly 20mpg last year) because he has trouble defending power forwards. He’s 6’11″ (significantly bigger than the average NBA starting PF) and not particularly athletic. He’s good defending the PnR, but he is really a Center. That is primarily why Pop rarely plays him along side Duncan. That’s the problem with playing two towers. Somebody’s got to guard the opposing PF. (The Lakers have, and will continue to have that problem because 7’1″ Gasol simply cannot cover adequately opposing PFs). Whether you like it or not, Diaw does so better than Splitter. So, unless he regresses (not likely with a full training camp under his belt) Diaw (who is a very normal 6’8″ PF height) will continue to start with Duncan at center and Splitter will be the first big off the bench for likely 22-27 mpg. Blair (who shot over 53% from the field this year and got 5.5 boards in just 20mpg) is still a fine offensive contributor, and his salary is still next to nothing (and a fraction of Splitter’s). So, instead of obsessing about constantly trying to match up with tall All-NBA players (Dirk and Gasol at the 4, Durant at the 3 and… oh, right, those are really the only ones that the Spurs have to worry about and NOBODY in the league has figured out a way to consistently stop them). The Spurs problem is not height. It’s just your weird obsession. Their starters are (once again) 6’11″, 6’8″, 6’7″, 6’6″, and 6’2″ (Duncan, Diaw, Leonard, Green, and Parker… and the height of a PG is largely irrelevant). That’s slightly taller than average in the NBA. Their first 5 off the bench is presumably 6’11″, 6’9″, 6’7″, 6’5″, and 6′? (Splitter, Bonner, Jackson, Ginobili and however talls Mills is). Again, that’s taller (and much more talented overall) than most benches in the league. Bonner, Blair, Green, Leonard, Neal and Mills all make very small salaries. Tiny really, when you consider they are all either starters or rotation players. The Spurs have plenty of size and talent (thankfully signed to smart and reasonable contracts). They don’t need any silly trades or salary dumps; they just need to keep doing what they’ve been doing for the past few years (most of the time); avoiding injuries, and winning at a level most NBA teams would kill for.

  • http://48minutesofhell.com Andrew A. McNeill

    As a very tall person myself, it’s my estimation that Diaw is closer to 6’9″ than 6’8″, though he’s usually listed at the latter.

  • Right in the the Pass

    I’m still a believer for a title this year. Games 4-6 of the WCF where all down to the wire and it is not only Spurs folk who point out the referreeing in those games seemed in the favour of OKC.
    The Spurs simply need the internal improvements players like Green, Diaw, Splitter, Mills and Leonard to outweigh any tapering off of Duncan and Ginobilli and they will be right in the mix this year.

  • Tyler

    And your solution is…….Mozgov or Koufos??? Hate to break it to you, but neither is an upgrade….

    And since when does Tiago draw his man out or space the floor?

    So you want someone to draw his defender out (again, Tiago is not that guy), yet you suggest Mozgov and Koufos, two guys that do anything but space the floor and garner zero respect on the offensive side of the ball?

    I found your entire post confusing. And on top of that you end the post with “please next” as if it makes your point stronger….

  • Titletown99030507d

    It’s an upgrade over Blair and Bonner and you know it. Don’t bring that mess here.

    “The Brazilian has pretty impeccable per-minute numbers (16 points, 9.8 rebounds per 36), but has only received 15.6 minutes per game from Gregg Popovich through two seasons. I don’t believe Splitter has a reputation as a poor defender (have I missed something?), so at some point, I do think Pop will loosen the reins and let Splitter fly.” —-

    you must have missed this article. Fickle fans.

  • Titletown99030507d

    Diaw still sucks at guarding any power forward/center!

    I’ll post this again for you

    “The Brazilian has pretty impeccable per-minute numbers (16 points, 9.8 rebounds per 36), but has only received 15.6 minutes per game from Gregg Popovich through two seasons. I don’t believe Splitter has a reputation as a poor defender (have I missed something?), so at some point, I do think Pop will loosen the reins and let Splitter fly.”

  • Titletown99030507d

    So who’s the center and who’s the PF? Timmy or Splitter? Which one. Right they both play either positions. Diaw is still fat like Blair and you’ll see he won’t be any better than last season. Please that’s the best we can do Diaw? Oversized PG and undersized 4/5. Just like Blair. Please to lather it up too much.

  • http://48minutesofhell.com Andrew A. McNeill

    “Diaw still sucks at guarding any power forward/center!”

    Proof?

  • Titletown99030507d

    OKC series. I guess you didn’t watch. Good passing and passing up the sure shot and getting waxed by the opposing big is not a recipe for deep playoff success.

    He didn’t do shit in the OKC series!

  • Titletown99030507d

    Diaw- Leave the passing to Tony!

  • Titletown99030507d

    He still can’t cover Durant. HAHHAHAHAHAHAAHH!

  • Titletown99030507d

    I think it’s many spurs fans obsession not just mine about getting a reliable big 7 footer who can block shots coming into the paint and is half decent moving side to side. Mozgov and Koufos are better at it than Bonnie or Blair and don’t try to sweeten it up saying otherwise. It just doesn’t wash here.

  • http://48minutesofhell.com Andrew A. McNeill

    Do you have any numbers or video evidence to bring to the conversation, other than the one other-worldly shooting night for the OKC bigs (Game 5, I think)? Otherwise, i’m just going to assume you’re simply shouting to support your claims.

  • Graham

    Name one guy out there who can besides Lebron?

    Splitter will get 20 plus minutes a game as tim’s time comes down, you can relax about that. And the idea of putting someone like Mozgov out there instead of diaw is a joke.

    This conversation is starting to look increasingly less productive.

  • Tyler

    You just confused me even more…..I realize Tiago is a productive player, that’s not what I was arguing.

    Neither Mozgov or Koufos is an upgrade over Bonner or Blair.

  • STIJL

    Got to chime in on the Splitter debate. I don’t think anyone has said Splitter is not good at what he does. But that is exactly the point. What he does. His greatest asset in the offensive scheme is being receiver from the PnR. He’s not a developed “creator” and has one of the ugliest low post (other than receiving a pass for a driving layup on the PnR) moves I’ve seen from a big man.

    He’s not mobile enough to defend the weak side and must be facing his opponent to defend efficiently. Which he does well in those situations.

    Can he improve. That’ll be up to Tiago. Does he have talent…No Question. But him and Timmy on the court at the same time is just begging for punishment by a quicker, more athletic line up than your typical twin big line up. Which in this day and age of the nba…there are more teams with quick, athletic 3/4′s and 4/5′s than there are typical twin big lineups.

    Splitter NEEDS that quick counterpart to help him be as productive as he can be. That won’t happen with a slowing and aging Tim Duncan.

    And as far as pairing with Diaw…that could be Splitter’s biggest asset to him having great games. That AND better recognition by the team to get him more touches through PnR situations. But that’s not the fault of the talent level next to him in the paint….that’s recognition and execution of the perimeter players on the court during the same time.

    Point being…Splitter is limited to the type of player he is. He’s not a face up creator. End of PF discussion. He’s not quick enough to defend more athletic 3/4′s 4/5′s in this league…again…end of P/F discussion. Timmy is aged and not quick enough to play P/F anymore…end of Splitter and Timmy on the floor together per Splitter explanation prior.

    Now it would be awesome if the Spurs could land an athletic 3/4 or 4/5 that can help Splitter when on the court. That I agree. But it would take more than Mozgov or Koufos to achieve that. And if the Spurs were to be exploring that option…for that type of player…it will via trade.

    Otherwise…Splitter had a good season last year. He’s sure to improve even if the roster stands pat in the interior department because the entire team will have a full training camp, pre-season, and closer ties to each other than they had last season.

    Conclusion…Splitter doesn’t need to be defended about or crucified regarding last season. He just needs to improve his personal game regardless who he’s paired with. I think he will.

  • Jimbo

    @Graham, that’s because the guy you are responding to is mentally ill.

  • Bry

    Splitter is fine defending Centers. But, he has trouble covering PF (just like pretty much any 6’11″ unathletic guy does). When you have a Center guarding quick PFs; they often get lit up. Duncan is now mostly a Center. Unfortunately for Splitter, Duncan is by far the best defender and rebounder on the Spurs, and now plays the same position as Duncan. In fact, Splitter and Timmy’s numbers usually add up to 48 minutes, cuz they play the exact same position. Pop very rarely plays them together because probably Pop doesn’t like either of them guarding the opposing 4. Splitter has trouble, understandably, and Tim isn’t as young and quick as he used to be. Also, if you have Timmy guarding the 4, you’ve taken him away from the basket which can marginalize our best rim protector and rebounder. Your obsession with oversized (7 foot) PFs doesn’t make rational sense. I’d say that Diaw is a mediocre defender. Not great, but not bad either. The point is that he defends the power forward position better than anyone on the team (although Jack and Leonard can defend the undersized PFs of the league). Unless Splitter morphs into a Forward at some point, his minutes will always be limited to backing up Tim Duncan at the Center position. That’s just the way it is. And, apart from the bizarre game 5 freakshow, it worked extremely well for the Spurs from the moment Diaw arrived.

  • Titletown99030507d

    I don’t have the video any longer because I was disgusted with the whole game so I deleted it. But here’s some numbers for your starting PF after the series got tied 2-2.

    Game 5:
    Diaw- 25 minutes, 3 Rebs, 5 pts, 2 TO not to mention their PF scored more than he did.

    Game 6 – 25 minutes, 5 Rebs, 0 pts, 3 TO, 4 PF again their PF scored more than he did.

    Those numbers for game 5 and 6 to me pretty important games IMO yielded pretty crappy numbers for a starting PF garnering 25+ minutes. Those are the numbers and they don’t lie. That’s shit performance in my book. He just doesn’t cut the mustard period. I don’t care about the regular season it’s teams like this in the playoffs they need to do something in regards to the rotation being thrown out in the court. If he was that great he would have produced decent numbers in those games. The scores weren’t that far apart and it mattered had he played better. There’s nothing to argue about the guy just isn’t PF material.

  • Bry

    @TitleThat was two games. What about the Utah series and the Clippers series? What about the early Thunder series? Utah and LA have All-Star or near All-Star PFs. Diaw, like the entire team, played well up until those two games. You seriously don’t see any connection at all with SA picking up Diaw late in the season and the Spurs going on a historic run? They won 10 straight playoffs games with him as the starting PF. Even past Spurs championship teams didn’t pull off the records they set last season. With Diaw starting their offense was absurdly good. Maybe you think it’s all coincidence, but I don’t. And Pop certainly doesn’t either.

  • Titletown99030507d

    STIJL,

    He needs minutes to improve. 10-15 minutes isn’t going to catapult him to the next level if he has one. I think he does have a next level but it’s going to take 25+ minutes to get there.