How will the Olympics affect the Spurs this season?
Manu Ginobili. The nominally eccentric Ginobili and seminal figure of Argentina’s Golden Generation, did what he did best — providing his aging Argentinean squad with everything outside of actually bending gravity, as he averaged 19.4 points, 5.4 rebounds and 4.1 assists while converting on 65.7% of his shots (including free throws). His performance doesn’t change much for the Spurs this season, though, as he will continue to pepper the defense with a litany of 3-pointers and awkward jaunts to the rim.
Tony Parker. Under extenuating circumstances, Parker slowly extricated himself from his primary deterrents — his goggles and the ensuing set back that weakened his previously indefatigable speed. He struggled to maintain an acceptable efficiency, even against competition that struggled to stay in front of him, but he still carried the load of an entire country quite well. He will return to San Antonio and, with the benefit of time, ready to retain his position as the catalyst to the Spurs No. 1 ranked offense.
Tiago Splitter. While I don’t have any major qualms from Splitter’s Olympic performance, I did have one reservation which I expounded on a couple of days ago.
Eliminating his game against Great Britain, where they didn’t have the talent or frontcourt to defend a mobile big like Splitter, his averages dip to 8.8 points and 40% shooting. Against teams who advanced past preliminary play, they drop even further; Splitter averaged eight points while shooting 38.2% from the field. (The implicit caveat here, of course, is that I’m using a six-game sample size.)
As for his role with San Antonio, he will continue to earn consistent minutes because of his deception in the pick-and-roll; his cadence is nearly perfect making him a difficult weapon to stop which is remarkable considering he doesn’t have any semblance of shooting range to complement his deft cutting.
Patty Mills. Mills had the most encouraging performance of all; he lead all scorers in points while filling the onerous role as the singular shot creator for the Boomers. I, for one, would like to see Mills earn more minutes considering he has an intrinsic knowledge of how to score, a facet which isn’t simply limited to spotting up on the perimeter.
Boris Diaw. The French offense is a lot more coherent and pragmatic when Diaw is operating with painstaking proficiency. In transient stretches, Diaw played like the best player on the floor — the quasi LeBron James dominated in France’s seven-point loss to Spain in the quarterfinals. San Antonio will rely on the perspicacious Diaw to act as a reliable safety value albeit one that will also be tasked with defending opposing starting power forwards.
Nando De Colo. While De Colo struggled, it’s premature to believe that he will be the same player who created more turnovers than opportunities and shot at a below-average rate in London. Time will tell.
Brett Brown. With Don Newman and Jacque Vaughn jumping ship to other coaching positions, Brown, whose ability to reciprocate San Antonio’s excellent culture with Australia, will likely earn more responsibility among Gregg Popovich’s coaching staff this season.