The San Antonio Spurs list 18 players on the roster heading into training camp, and Air Alamo will break down each of the current players, their strengths, weaknesses, chances to make the roster and expectations for the 2015-16 NBA season.
Next up is a player who should’ve been on his way out of the league after the worst franchise cut him, but Boris Diaw turned his career around in San Antonio.
Who Is He?
Diaw, a first-round pick in 2003, has played for the Atlanta Hawks, Phoenix Suns and Charlotte Bobcats. The power forward’s career-best season came in 2005-06 when he tallied 13.3 points, 6.9 rebounds and 6.2 assists for the Suns. However, his time in Charlotte came to an unceremonious end.
During the lockout-shortened 2011-12 campaign when the franchise posted the worst winning percentage in NBA history, Diaw received a pink slip. He was waived from, quite literally, the worst team ever.
Boris Diaw had a 10.8 PER with the 7-59 Bobcats when they cut him in 2012. — Bill Barnwell (@billbarnwell) June 13, 2014
But the Spurs picked him up, and Diaw became a critical piece of the rotation—especially during San Antonio’s championship run in 2014. He averaged 9.2 points, 4.8 rebounds and 3.4 assists, posted a 118 offensive rating and helped shut down Miami Heat star LeBron James.
Last season, Diaw appeared in 81 games and occasionally stepped into the starting lineup when Tiago Spiller was unavailable.
Strengths and Weaknesses
The biggest reasons Diaw managed to resurrect his career in San Antonio were his pass-first mentality and resurgent three-point shot. But in 2014-15, that was the stretch 4’s downfall, too.
Diaw connected on 39.5 percent of his triples from in 2012-13 and 2013-14 combined, but last year, he trudged to a 32.0 percent clip. Opponents stopped respecting Diaw at the perimeter, and he failed to take advantage of the space that was deadly in previous seasons.
With that being said, Diaw is a useful counter to small-ball lineups because he’s comfortable working in the post. Diaw can either back down his defender or use that passing ability to find an open teammate on the perimeter. For example, per NBA.com, he dished 27 assists to Danny Green—who nailed 21 threes off passes from Diaw.
Diaw is a serviceable defender, but he’s not a rim protector and isn’t dominant on the glass. Those weaknesses will probably be more evident now that Aron Baynes is gone.
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What to Expect in 2015-16
Diaw has locked up a place in the second unit alongside Manu Ginobili, Patty Mills and David West. The Spurs will count on Diaw to contribute in the pick-and-roll, space the floor and defend the opposing power forward.
San Antonio certainly hopes Diaw will regain confidence as a shooter, and perhaps it’s blind faith, but that seems likely—at least to some degree. According to Vorped, Diaw was just 4-of-22 from the corners but drilled 14-of-35 looks from straight one degree. He actually had trouble with the shortest threes, so there’s still realistic hope Diaw will recover.
Although Diaw’s defense and rebounding will be slightly more exposed, the Spurs should once again employ one of the NBA’s best-scoring second units, and Diaw is an important part of that offensive success.