2013 Free Agency: Tiago Splitter cracks top 20 in Ziller’s rankings

By Quixem Ramirez

May 31, 2012; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; San Antonio Spurs center Tiago Splitter (22) handles the ball while being guarded by Oklahoma City Thunder guard Derek Fisher (37) during the first half in game three of the Western Conference finals of the 2012 NBA playoffs at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-US PRESSWIRE

Tiago Splitter didn’t turn out to be the next Tim Duncan. He vastly unperformed given that unrealistic standard.

But that doesn’t mean he’s an ineffective player; Splitter is one of the most reliable big men on the Spurs and a decent building block as long as he isn’t one of the three best players on the team.

In the right context, with the right coaching and the ability to settle into a role that doesn’t require too much from him, Splitter is an excellent big man. He’s tall and agile, underscoring his success in the pick-and-roll. Currently, he’s a below-average post threat but it isn’t because he’s inherently awful; he just needs to limit his turnovers.

Tom Ziller of SB Nation continues to tackle the 2013 Free Agency class and Splitter slotted in at 19th ahead of David West, who was fourth on Ziller’s list last offseason.

“The Brazilian big man will wrap up his first NBA contract in 2013 and become a restricted free agent. His     arrival was not all we dreamed it could be: he’s playing less than 20 minutes per game in San Antonio, and     even less in the playoffs. But the per-minute numbers are there, and he’s going to break out soon. I can     feel it in my bones. Last season, he averaged 17.6 points and 9.8 rebounds per 36 minutes, and had a     64.9 percent True Shooting percentage — those are really legit numbers. It’s just a matter of opportunity.     Tim Duncan’s not getting any younger, and the Spurs aren’t tremendously deep up front (though they do     have DeJuan Blair and Boris Diaw).”

Splitter is already on the cusp of becoming a valuable big man despite averaging a mere 15.6 minutes per game through two seasons. That’s because any center that can convert on 71.3% of his attempts in the pick-and-roll, grab 21.4% of his teams defensive rebounds and post excellent true shooting percentage numbers every year will sustain a ton of value.

Even if that said big man struggles to hit free throws at a rate higher than 65%.

(But I digress.)