Advanced Scouting: Memphis Grizzlies at San Antonio Spurs – is Manu slipping?
Memphis Grizzlies at San Antonio Spurs 6:00 CST February 27, 2011
San Antonio Spurs at Memphis Grizzlies 7:00 CST March 1, 2011
The Spurs begin a home and home against the Memphis Grizzles tonight in San Antonio. Quietly, the Grizzlies have been on a tear in recent weeks, winning 13 of their last 17. However, only 3 of these games were played without Rudy Gay. Gay is expected to miss a few more weeks, which obviously includes tonightâ€™s contest.
Despite Rudy Gay’s strong start, Zach Randolph has clearly taken over as the team’s best player. Gay was averaging 23.4 PPG at the end of November. Randolph had missed a few games to that point and was contributing merely 16.4 a game. Since then, their averages have gone in opposite directions and currently Randolph is scoring over 20 PPG (and grabbing over 13 rebounds a game), while Gay is at a hair under that scoring threshold.
Rudy Gay also missed the last matchup in San Antonio as the Spurs pulled out a 112-106 win on December 18. My scouting report of the Grizzlies highlighted many of Rudy Gayâ€™s contributions and tendencies, before Gay was officially suspended for that game.
Since the Spurs last played Memphis, Zach Randolph has increased his offensive rebounding average to nearly 5 per game (his OR% of 14.8 is tops in the league). His scoring efficiency of 0.87 points per possession in the post is below last season’s rate, but still respectable. This rate should be considered all the more impressive after considering Randolph’s ability to clean up his own missed shots. Randolph averages 8 post plays per game and 4 putback attempts per game. Denying him the ball down low and boxing him out should be two of the Spurs primary defensive focuses.
The last meeting saw big nights from both Tony Parker and OJ Mayo. You could make a strong argument that both guards played their best games of the season. Mayo drained 5 of 8 threes and scored 27 overall. As great as Mayo played, Parker was even better. Parker scored an outstanding 37 points and was very effective going to the basket. He scored 9 layups, including 6 off the dribble, and made 5 of 8 jump shots from inside 15 feet. Parker even set up teammates for 6 layups or dunks. Parkerâ€™s ability to create easy shots suggests to me that his performance is more likely to be duplicated than Mayo’s (because Mayo benefited heavily from 3 point success.) Of course, you can only have one best game of the year.
A major problem for the Spurs in this game was controlling Zach Randolph on the boards. Randolph snatched a problematic 10 offensive rebounds (and 11 defensive)! In total, the Grizzlies scored 12 points from putbacks and posted up 20 times (scoring 15). Thanks largely to Mayo, they also scored 17 on 15 isolation sets.
The Spurs were greatly helped by pushing the ball. They were able to outscore Memphis 23-16 in the transition game. They also ran 15 pick and rolls for the ballhandler, resulting in 16 points. An impressive 35 points of the Spurs points came from 26 spot ups.
Memphis: 1.3 (12th)
San Antonio: 6.82 (2nd)
Grizzlies Player Ratings
Spurs Player Ratings
Grizzlies Player Trends
Spurs Player Trends
How concerned should we be about Manu’s slump?
I was going to write about the concern over Manu’s slump before last game against the Nets, but I saw several positive signs during that game. Sure, Ginobili struggled to hit his jump shot once again, making just 1 of 7 from beyond 15 feet, but it was his shot selection that seemed encouraging to me.
The primary reason I noticed for Manu’s initial slump was probably his shot selection. Only 8 of 19 jumpers outside of 15 feet were assisted in the 10 games before Friday. On the season, about 2/3rds of Ginobili’s jump shots from this range are set up by teammates. Although Manu is one of few players capable of creating 3’s off the dribble, his efficiency compared to his success rate on spot ups seems to drop off more than most.
Ginobili was also taking more shots from inefficient distances during his slump. 70 of 124 (56%) attempts in these 10 games were either layups or 3’s. This is well below his rate of 70% on the season beforehand. Although it is possible that some of this might just have been due to the Spurs offensive preference as a team or defenses overcommitting on Manu, it certainly helps explain Ginobiliâ€™s lack of shooting accuracy. Ginobili also struggled to draw free throws, attempting free throws at a rate merely 60% as frequent as his rate prior to February.
Hereâ€™s what I liked about Manuâ€™s play against New Jersey. Several of Ginobiliâ€™s jumpers against the Nets were either open looks or desperation attempts. Although a couple jumpers seemed like the Spurs could have done better, Ginobili was also able to get to the rim often. Overall, he attempted 7 layups, 4 threes and 10 free throws. Whether it shows that Manu still has the ability to create easy scores or that he is displaying better shot selection, the fact that he only attempted five 2 point jump shots should be encouraging. Another benefit to his aggressiveness was the defensive attention he garnered, which led to a few feeds for easy buckets.
The thing about slumps that concerns me the least is the streaky shooting itself, independent of decision making. Unless we think someone might be injured or lacking discretion, trying to read too much into a couple dozen shots (or less) can lead to conclusions that arenâ€™t meaningful. I’m not saying that the Spurs should be ok with the game of two that this slump may have cost them, but it might not say much about what they should expect going forward. (Iâ€™m also not saying that Ginobili’s shooting was the only contributing factor for a couple losses or that this shouldnâ€™t be expected from time to time.)
Manu Ginobili doesn’t seem significantly injured to me and he still seems to prefer the high percentage plays (even if it means throwing more risky passes or recklessly attacking the rim himself.) Based on these two factors, I suspect he should be able to right the ship and the Spurs will likely have their crucial figure at or near full strength for their playoff run.
Conley,Mayo,Gay,Randolph,Gasol +34 in 333 minutes (+1.1 per 100 possessions)
Conley,Mayo,Gay,Randolph,Gasol +34 in 333 minutes (+1.1 per 100)
Conley,Young,Gay,Randolph,Gasol +61 in 303 minutes (+9.2 per 100)
Conley,Allen,Young,Randolph,Gasol +27 in 101 minutes (+18.1 per 100)
Parker, Ginobili, Jefferson, Blair, Duncan +115 in 625 minutes (+8.7 per 100)
Hill, Neal, Ginobili, Bonner, McDyess +65 in 94 minutes (+36.4 per 100)
The Grizzlies had played well as of late, but I think the loss of Gay is more significant. I also donâ€™t think Mayo will make 5 of 8 threes again.
The Spurs definitely have a better chance in the first one at home, but I like them in both individually. However, I do think that there is slightly less than a 50% chance they go 2-0 against Memphis this week.