ESPN NBA Rank: Tiago Splitter erases doubts in sophomore season

By Quixem Ramirez

May 7, 2012; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich talks with center Tiago Splitter (22) during the second half of game four in the Western Conference quarterfinals of the 2012 NBA Playoffs against the Utah Jazz at EnergySolutions Arena. The Spurs defeated the Jazz 87-81 to sweep Utah and win the series. Mandatory Credit: Russ Isabella-US PRESSWIRE

ESPN has officially embarked on their quest to rank the top 500 NBA players for the upcoming season. As each Spur is listed, I will provide a synopsis and a brief take on why they deserve (or don’t) this ranking.

Even if Tiago Splitter doesn’t develop into an elite interior option, there is enough in his offensive game to be excited about.

In his second season, he averaged 9.3 points and 5.2 rebounds while shooting 61.8% from the field. Splitter looked markedly different from his rookie year, where he looked tentative and his crafty pick-and-roll game wasn’t utilized in the proper manner.

The ESPN committee saw enough in Splitter to rank him at 149th, 77 spots higher than last year.

Splitter wasn’t just an effective pick-and-roll weapon either; he converted on 71.3% of his attempts as the roll man, good for 1.32 points per possession. That efficiency was only bested by four players in the entire league and there isn’t any legitimate reason to believe he will decline in that facet. He is in the perfect situation to succeed in the pick-and-roll as he consistently screens for effective pick-and-roll ball handlers and benefits from optimal floor spacing created by the Spurs shooters.

My take. This ranking assumes that Splitter is good enough to be the fifth best player on an average team. That sounds about right as he is merely a complementary piece that would improve his efficiency immensely by developing a nice post game.

Other Spurs already ranked: Stephen Jackson (151) | DeJuan Blair (155) | Danny Green (160) | Boris Diaw (162) | Gary Neal (171) | Matt Bonner (198) | Patty Mills (309) | James Anderson (424) | Cory Joseph (458) | Derrick Byars (488)