I apologize for missing this interesting post by Brett Koremenos of NBA Playbook, but the basic gist of the post still is relevant, if not more so, in light of Boris Diaw’s emergence as a key contributor to the Spurs rotation.
Koremenos asserts that Diaw’s unique skill set, which usually belongs to a guard, is one that offers tremendous diversity to the Spurs rotation.
I’m not nearly as qualified as Koremenos to break down film, so I’ll just give some things to look for in each video. If you prefer a more adept knowledge of the X’s and O’s of the NBA (and I surely don’t blame you), click the link above.
Anyways. In this first breakdown, Diaw’s prodigious passing ability leads to a highly efficient Matt Bonner corner 3-point attempt (he’s shooting 47 percent from the corner). And, yeah, Bonner made the shot.
But, more importantly, check out where Diaw received the ball. Koremenos described that as the “trail spot” which appears to be about 40 feet away from the basket. After receiving the pass from Danny Green, Diaw realizes that his defender was a bit lackadaisical. Diaw takes a couple of purposeful dribbles, draws in Bonner’s defender, Robin Lopez on that play, and he delivers the nice pass to the corner. This is impressive because many guards don’t have the requisite acuity to make this play much less 6’8″ power forwards.
On this next play, we see that Diaw has some unique value in the Spurs pick-and-roll game. The ability to run the pick-and-roll with proficiency is something that holds a lot of value. The Spurs offense, especially, predicates on Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker crashing to the rim and creating. Naturally, the pick-and-roll is one of the simplest, yet efficient, ways to free space for the Spurs’ backcourt.
What I took away most from this play was Diaw’s elite interior passing. After Manu’s defender, which appears to be Ronnie Price, fought over the screen, Marcin Gortat hedged behind him to provide him time to recover. Manu elevated and fired a pass to Diaw in the middle of the paint.
In one motion, Diaw makes a quick drop step which drew Shannon Brown, guarding Kawhi Leonard, into the paint. Diaw also elevates and drops off the pass to Leonard, an adept cutter in his own right, for the easy dunk.
In this last highlight, Parker and Diaw run a simple pick-and-roll set with Green and Kawhi situated in the corners creating space and Tim Duncan in the low block. With Steve Nash defending, a notoriously deficient defender, Channing Frye shows a little longer than usual. Diaw pops out just inside the 3-point line. Again, he utilizes a couple of purposeful dribbles (notice how Diaw hasn’t made any wasted movements nor has he stunted the flow of the Spurs offense) to get into the interior of the defense.
Jared Dudley makes an ill-fated attempt at deflecting the ball or creating a turnover but that isn’t going to work the majority of the time. Gortat, guarding Duncan on the play, slides in front of the restricted area ready to take the contact and/or impede his progress. But, instead, Duncan screens off Dudley, Diaw elevates and finds Leonard in the corner for another efficient attempt. Kawhi (a 47 percent shooter from the corner) knocks down the shot.
In what seemed as a move with the intention of creating surplus at the power forward position, Diaw has played well enough to garner more minutes than DeJuan Blair and Bonner. In a 12 game sample size (bear with me), Diaw’s assist rate compares favorably with Chris Paul. Not only has Diaw rediscovered his passing gift, Diaw has increased his shooting efficiency. His 63.1 true shooting percentage, extrapolated over the entire year, would represent a season high.
There is some doubt, even a devout Diaw supporter like myself can’t deny, that Diaw won’t be able to replicate his play in the playoffs.
But, even so, it’s pretty hard to deny that Diaw will make some sort of impact. Whether you want him to or not.