San Antonio Spurs News

San Antonio Spurs: Is Tiago Splitter Top 10 Center Material?

By Erik Lambert

Mar 21, 2014; Sacramento, CA, USA; San Antonio Spurs center Tiago Splitter (22) reacts after being called for a foul Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins (15) during the second quarter at Sleep Train Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Tiago Splitter often gets lost in the shuffle of a deep San Antonio Spurs roster.  Based on WARP ratings from ESPN, could he be top 10 material at center?

Andre Drummond and DeMarcus Cousins emerging as top middle men

There is no doubt the rankings for this position was arguably the most surprising.  Despite Joakim Noah being Defensive Player of the Year and Dwight Howard remaining such a force down low, each failed to crack the top two spots.  Leading the way was rising Detroit Piston star Andre Drummond, who secured a WARP rating prediction of 11.5 thanks to his elite rebounding skill and offensive efficiency.  To think he just turned 21-years old makes him even scarier.  Right behind him is the enigmatic DeMarcus Cousins.  Everybody knows his history as somewhat of a malcontent, but nobody disputes his talent.  Every stat category was improved last season for him and he too is only 24-years old.  The time is coming for him to start meshing with teammates better.

Splitter time split with Boris Diaw masks value

That is something Tiago Splitter is no stranger to.  He, like every other player who joined the San Antonio Spurs learned to sacrifice for the team early.  Nothing emphasized that better than when Splitter quietly accepted a demotion to the bench in the NBA Finals in favor of Boris Diaw.  The two divided time at center for most of the 2013-2014 season, but is the value of Splitter being concealed by that fact?  His numbers weren’t eye-popping at 8.2 points, 6.2 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game.

However, it’s important to note that he also only averaged 21.5 minutes per game.  So what would the numbers look like if he played true starter level time?  According to Basketball Reference, Splitter averaged 13.7 points, 10.3 rebounds and 2.5 assists every 36 minutes of playing time.  That doesn’t include coming just shy of posting one block per game.  By comparison, Roy Hibbert of the Indiana Pacers who projects 9th for this coming year had 10.8 points, 6.6. rebounds and 1.1 assists.

Tiago Splitter may value winning more than personal game, but it’s a fair argument that he could be a top 10 center in the NBA if he wanted.