May 19, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; San Antonio Spurs power forward Boris Diaw (33) reacts to a foul call in the second half of game three of the Western Conference semi finals of the 2012 NBA Playoffs against the Los Angeles Clippers at the Staples Center. San Antonio Spurs won 96-86. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-US PRESSWIRE
The profileMinutes: 20.3Points: 4.7Rebounds: 4.3Assists: 2.4FG%: 58.8%3P%: 61.5%FT%: 62.5%
The (advanced) profileTS%: 65.0%USG%: 11.2%PER: 12.1Offensive PPP: 0.95 (114th)Defensive PPP: 0.75 (49th)Offensive rating (points per 100 possessions): 113Defensive rating (points allowed per 100 possessions): 102
San Antonio is a really successful organization, obviously. They have built a brilliant organization predicated on continuity, trust, respect and the adherence to the collective goal of the team. When the Spurs were more defensive oriented, the goal was to make the oppositions life miserable. For the greater part of the decade, San Antonio harassed the offense, putting them into a dire sense of disorientation.
Fast forward to the last couple of year when Gregg Popovich orchestrated a fundamental change in philosophy. The days of toiling through defensive slug fests, he realized, were over. The pieces to the puzzle existed, though, to create an utterly devastating offensive attack. They had two guards that could break down the defense at the point of attack consistently, forcing the defense into rotations early in the shot clock, a key facet of any successful offense. They had a safety valve in Tim Duncan that could score from the low block during the brief moments of offensive ineptitude. They had an array of shooters and one of the best tactical coaches in the league. The pieces were there and the 2011-12 San Antonio Spurs put everything together.
Boris Diaw wasn’t part of the original equation but when he was acquired on Mar. 21 he added another facet to the Spurs offense. Sure they could have operated with nearly the same efficiency without Diaw but the offense just ran smoother. I’d argue that San Antonio’s full offensive potential wasn’t met until Pop incorporated Diaw into the rotation. By my unofficial count, Diaw led the team in hockey assists (the pass that leads to the assist) despite his mere two month tenure. He was the best middle man on the team, the subtle contributor to the final result, a made shot. He didn’t get empirical credit for his contribution — hence his near career-low assist percentage — but if you looked closely enough (or re-watched enough games), Diaw was usually involved in the play in some shape or fashion.
I enjoyed having Diaw on my favorite team. I felt the innate connection he had with our organization; it was as if Diaw belonged the entire time.
I was fortunate enough to attend the Spurs’ 17-point victory over the Dallas Mavericks on Mar. 23. It was Diaw’s first game donning the silver and black. I had no idea what to expect. Were we going to get the notoriously overweight Diaw, who would just attach himself to the bench and offer little of substance? Or would we get the productive Diaw, the guy with the impressive passing vision and the wherewithal to make the correct decision?
Fortunately, San Antonio received the productive Diaw. While he only contributed two points in his first game, he attached himself to Dirk Nowitzki, forcing him into difficult shots on the perimeter rather than shots in the interior of the defense. Nowitzki finished the night with 5-of-21 shooting and 16 points. The normally dominant mid-range shooter settled for 36% shooting on 14 attempts outside of 10 feet. (Don’t forget the collective effort of Kawhi Leonard and Stephen Jackson though.) As I left the AT&T Center that night, I knew what we had. Diaw would be a valuable contributor. He didn’t let me down.
Diaw garnered enough trust to start the playoffs against the Utah Jazz. He didn’t make a huge impact but his presence was indeed beneficial. He appeared on the top three Spurs lineups during the playoffs, two of which ranked in the top 10 in net points. He finished with averages of 24.7 minutes, 6.2 points, 5.2 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game. But those numbers don’t really do him justice.
Acquiring Stephen Jackson was the more prominent acquisition but adding Diaw to the fold may have been more important to the fabric of this San Antonio team.
It’s true. Even though your eyes probably told you differently.
Performance of the year: May 17, 2012 against Los Angeles Clippers. W 105-88.The line: 27:02 MIN | 7-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 4 AST | 16 PTS | +12
Perfect game. Can’t ask for more really.
Season grade: B