Hollinger breaks down Spurs roster
The league’s resident egg head turned his considerable deductive powers to a roster breakdown of the Spurs on ESPN’s Insider section. As that falls under membership content, we won’t provide any cut-and-paste sections. But here are some of the more interesting takeaways for each player.
Tony Parker: Continued to improve as a distributor while remaining among the league’s best finishers around the rim. While he doesn’t rank as an impressive individual defender, the Spurs defend significantly better when he’s on the court (7.9 points less per 100 possessions).
Manu Ginobili: Enjoyed one of his finest seasons, albeit an injury-shorted one. Ginobili not only ranked among the league leaders in true shooting percent (66.8, third), he was the top playmaking shooting guard in the NBA. He did bottom out rather significantly in the playoffs, however, a sign he likely played a bit over his head.
Tim Duncan: Perhaps the most startling observation among the entire team — despite apparent slippage on the defensive end, Duncan still ranked as the league’s most impactful defender according to regularized adjusted plus-minus. And that’s why advanced stats are so valuable: They tell you what your eyes don’t always recognize.
Kawhi Leonard: Projected to have a very solid sophomore season. Boasts a variety of valuable skills — high rebound rate for his position, great finisher around the basket, low rates in turnovers and fouls committed. But interestingly, the Spurs actually performed worse on defense with him on the court (2.8 points more per 100 possessions).
Boris Diaw: An elite playmaker at his position whose mediocre shooting is compounded by his inability to draw fouls. Indeed, he took only 35 foul shots last season, a staggeringly low number for a power forward. Performed significantly better on defense after the trade from Charlotte.
Danny Green: An elite 3-point shooter whose accuracy from behind the arc makes up for his lack of skill in virtually every other offensive category. He also boasts an impressive array of defensive abilities, ranking among the best SGs in the league at rebound rate (sixth), blocks per minute (fourth) and steals per minute (17th).
Stephen Jackson: Shot ridiculously well in the playoffs (61 percent on 3s) to make up for a pretty forgettable regular season. Ranked poorly at his position in the shooting and playmaking measures, and showed major slippage on defense. With the exception of his hip-hop career, Jackson’s best days are clearly well behind him.
Gary Neal: Though he’s forced to play PG minutes thanks to his lack of size, Neal’s skill set doesn’t fit the position. He ranks among the worst in assist-to-turnover ration, pure point rating and defense. But the man can shoot, can’t he? Equally comfortable off the dribble or spotting up, he made 41.9 percent on 3s and 44.6 percent inside the arc.
Tiago Splitter: While Splitter’s lack of mobility and activity was frustrating, Hollinger predicts a major pay day with another season comparable to his sophomore campaign. Despite his porous defense, Splitter was ridiculously productive when given playing time, averaging 19.6 points and 10.9 rebounds per 40 minutes.
Matt Bonner: Another one of those players whose value skyrockets when viewed through the prism of advanced stats. Doesn’t rebound or create, and struggled in certain areas on defense. But he’s also extremely efficient contributor who makes 3s while limiting mistakes like turnovers and fouls.
DeJuan Blair: You know your conditioning needs work when you’ve been replaced by Boris “Pass the Croissants” Diaw. But it’s also Blair’s natural limitations, particularly his lack of size and basketball IQ, that offset his elite rebounding and finishing skills. Not being able to space the floor also hurts.
Patty Mills: Spurs fans are probably excited after watching Mills play like a boss for Australia in the Olympics. A minor quibble — it’s not hard to score points when you’ve got the green light. Otherwise, he doesn’t handle the ball all that well — kind of a big deal when you’re a point guard — and his defense leaves a lot to be desired.
Cory Joseph: Shot horrendously (31.4 percent) in limited action. Hollinger does laud his excellent 3-1 assist-to-turnover ration, but otherwise there doesn’t appear to be much of a chance to contribute this season.
Nando De Colo: Not so for the French rookie, who showed flashes of excellence at the Olympics but generally struggled. Hollinger says his stats reveal a poor man’s Manu Ginobili, but also notes that he barely made a third of his field goal attempts in last year’s Euroleague season while struggling on D.
Head over to ESPN for all of John’s excellent observations, where you can either pay up for your own membership or sweet talk a coworker for their Insider password like I do!
That French cuisine will get you every time.
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