(Editor’s note: This is the sixth of a series of posts that detail the San Antonio Spurs in a much more defined, analytical light. Statistics courtesy of the excellent MySynergySports.)
Other than Matt Bonner, Tiago Splitter was the most efficient Spur on a per possession basis last season, averaging 1.08 PPP. That mark was only bested by 12 other players, indicating that Splitter has already transformed into an elite efficiency machine in his second NBA season.
The majority of his possessions derive from the pick-and-roll and in the post. While he was unparalleled as a roll man in the pick-and-roll — he scored on 67.3% of his 147 possessions, by far one of the best scoring percentages you will see in the NBA — he struggled down low. That was partly because he doesn’t have as much space to operate and because he lacks a diverse collection of post moves to keep defenders at bay.
Splitter tends to favor a couple of moves — a spin move to either side of the floor, baseline or towards the middle, to set up his hook shot. Splitter has shown the proclivity to knock down the hook shot with either hand which makes him a decent threat on both blocks. (Note: he does look slightly more fluid on the right block, where he can spin towards either side and still be effective.)
He doesn’t have a ton of effective counter moves but his step-through move, up-and-unders and double spin moves can be unseemly and difficult to defend. Splitter isn’t an imposing post presence, instead utilizing his nimble feet, footwork and agility to create space down low.
Yet, in reality, Splitter isn’t an effective post option. Tim Duncan remains a more attractive interior option at this juncture as he averaged 0.83 PPP compared to Splitter’s 0.75 PPP mark last season. That’s enough to represent a difference of 30 players so it’s not insignificant.
It is interesting to note, however, that Splitter did make a higher percentage of his post-up field goal attempts than Duncan. The difference between the two, and something Splitter will need to work on, resides in Duncan’s ability to draw fouls and prevent turnovers. Splitter struggles in both of those facets. That’s why he is less effective in the post despite knocking down more of his post-up attempts.
The reason being? Splitter tends to be careless with the ball as he operates in the post, sometimes holding the ball directly in the defenders grasp. Also: His nimble feet and quirky post arsenal result in a decent amount of traveling calls. This ties into his tendency to get too tricky down low, when a less complicated move would have been more effective. (For example: Spinning twice, rather than once, after already drawing the defender in the air.) Double teams pose a problem but that shouldn’t be a recurring theme as that frees up a much deadlier preposition for defenses — shooters operating with space.
These recurring problems aside, Splitter has the potential to become a slightly above-average post option. At this stage of his career, it’s unlikely he will develop an entire repertoire to rival Duncan but his most pressing problems — too much deception and double teams — can be corrected with some film study and practice time.
For more on Splitter’s possession distribution and links to the first five parts of the MySynergySports series, check the chart below. (Post-ups are bolded for effect.)