The San Antonio Spurs have now completed the first two months of the NBA’s grueling 82 game season.
The Spurs have done a lot of good things to start the season, but, they have also struggled in some areas. With November and December complete, we take a look at San Antonio’s good and bad from the first two months of the season.
Despite struggling at the beginning of the season shooting the ball, the Spurs have done well overall in the shot making category. San Antonio has an effective field goal percentage of 51.5% up to this point, good for 7th in the league.
The Spurs have a lot of capable shooters on this team which bodes well for the them in this category moving forward. Throw in the fact Patty Mills has returned to the floor and good shooting should be what San Antonio fans see in 2015.
Although the Spurs have not had the luxury of having Tiago Splitter available for much of the season, his absence has not hurt the team’s rebounding too much.
San Antonio currently ranks in the top third of the league in rebounding rate at 51.
While Splitter’s return has actually yielded in a lower rebound rate, 48.8, expect that number to improve as the team gets more used to having the Brazilian big man on the floor.
While the team’s turnover numbers are not something to marvel at, 14.3 (ranked bottom third of league), their differential in the turnover department has been good up to this point.
The Spurs rank close to the top third in turnover differential which is not great, but, once you consider the team’s early season turnover issues, that number does not seem too bad.
As San Antonio gets more stability at the point when Tony Parker returns, expect the team to improve even more in this category.
Opponent Three-Point Shooting
The Spurs have ranked close to the bottom third in opponent three-point percentage. That basically means San Antonio’s opponents are shooting well against the Spurs from deep.
To compare, only two other teams above .500 rank lower in this category than San Antonio, those teams being Memphis and Dallas.
The good news here is that Spurs opponents thus far have just been uncharacteristically hot. San Antonio ranks in the top 10 for lowest opponent field goal percentage and the top 10 for lowest three-point attempts allowed.
The key here is that the Spurs just have to continue to play hard on defense and that percentage for opponent’s three-point percentage should drop. If San Antonio plays frustrated though, the Spurs could be in for some struggles in 2015.
The Spurs really need to improve on the defensive end of the floor, yes, the entire defense end of the floor. San Antonio’s average defensive rating, an estimate for points allowed on 100 possessions, for the month of December was 107.2.
To put that in perspective, the average for the Spurs in the month of November (plus those two games in October) was 99.6 while the average during San Antonio’s eight game win streak was 97.8.
The Spurs must lock down defensively in 2015 if they wish to shoot up the standings.
San Antonio has always been praised for their ball movement under head coach Gregg Popovich, however, the Spurs need to improve in the passing game if they want to turn around their struggles.
In the months of October and November, San Antonio averaged 330.6 passes a night. In December, the team improved that number to 367.3 passes per night.
Why then is passing a point to improve on you ask? Because that additional passing has not actually helped the team. That is to say, the extra passing the Spurs are doing is not efficient.
To prove this point we look at San Antonio’s assist rate. The Spurs average assist rate, percentage of field goals assisted on, in the first two months was 64.8%. In the month of December, that number fell to 61.4%.
That isn’t a huge drop, but, when you look at the passing numbers, you can see what’s basically going on here is the Spurs passing game has become less efficient. More passes are not necessarily leading to more points.
Part of that is because Tony Parker, the team’s main facilitator, missed a decent chunk of time in December. Hopefully with his return, the Spurs offense will return to its efficiency numbers from the first two months.