Amidst team controversy and player injury, Tiago Splitter has stood tall and played at a high level. At 6 foot 11, Splitter is probably the most valuable big man outside of Tim Duncan. Height is something the Spurs lack in the frontline; Matt Bonner is not your typical imposing 6-10 power forward , he is 3pt specialist although he has improved in his rebounding. Boris Diaw is skilled in many areas but is not a strong rebounder or shot-blocker. And last Dejaun Blair who came out of college as a monster on the glass has not been able to maintain his rebounding prowess in the Pros.
All that said, from a statistical standpoint Splitter is not a great rebounder but has offensive/defensive skills and height that allows him to make an impact that doesn’t show up in boxscores most of the time. However, during a six game road-trip out in the east Splitter stood out and stood tall.
With The subtractions of Kawhi Leonard and Stephen Jackson due to injury, the Spurs lost a lot on both ends of the floor. Danny Green, Manu Ginobili and at times even Matt Bonner and Boris Diaw played the Small Forward position. With the unusual changes in the lineup, Splitter stepped up his game offensively. During the road trip Splitter averaged 12.5pts and 6rbs while shooting 58% from the field and 77% from the free throw line (including 18pts 9rbs in a big game against the Heat).
The road trip has seemed to bolster Splitter’s confidence because he is still playing at a very consistent level averaging 11pts and nearly 6rbs a game in around 20 minutes off the bench. Splitter has shown the same defensive awareness and dedication to setting screens as he did the last two seasons. One area where he has made a major improvement is his free throw shooting.
2010-11 - 54% (76 of 140)
2011-12 – 69% (125 of 181)
2012-13 – 73% (50 of 68) through 22 games
His free throw shooting is vital to his being able to contribute during the playoffs. Last season he shot a decent 69% but in the playoffs his playing time was limited due to a Dwight Howard-like free throw performance (37% FT). A performance which the OKC Thunder took full advantage of enroute to their 6 game series victory over the Spurs.
Date: December 14, 2012