The San Antonio Spurs hit a bit of a snag in November after a hot start. Here are three stats that help describe their season thus far.
Most of the San Antonio Spurs’ stats from October were pretty positive after they jumped out to a 5-2 start in the first month of the season.
DeMar DeRozan was putting up MVP-caliber numbers and LaMarcus Aldridge was dominating the boards, but we did see some flaws in the Spurs’ defensive statistics that have come to roost over the past month.
San Antonio went 5-10 in November, they have fallen out of the Western Conference playoff picture, and they’re in danger of losing more ground if they don’t pick it up soon.
These three stats explain some of the Spurs’ struggles, but they also give us some hope that they can turn it around as we progress through the regular season.
Next: LaMarcus Aldridge's shooting slump
LaMarcus Aldridge’s shooting slump
LaMarcus Aldridge’s struggles have been a major headline of the Spurs’ season thus far, and some extremely cold shooting in November contributed to the narrative that his best days may be behind him.
Aldridge finished the month with a true shooting percentage of just 47.7%, which would be a career-low for him if that kept up for an entire season.
Fortunately, the six-time All-Star has stepped up his game over the past week or so. He has shot 55% from the field over the past four games, which hopefully means he’s turned it around and those ugly numbers were merely the result of a shooting slump.
We’ll be keeping a close eye on Aldridge’s shooting numbers moving forward to make sure this isn’t some sort of regression at 33 years old.
Next: Three-point efficiency
One of the themes of San Antonio’s style of play in this new era of Spurs basketball is their avoidance of the three-point shot after they were raining threes in the pace-and-space days of a couple years ago.
While they run a much different offense than those teams did, the Spurs are still extremely efficient when they do decide to launch threes.
San Antonio currently ranks third in the league in three-point percentage as they’re hitting 38% of their shots from deep, but they are currently 28th in three-point attempts per game.
The Spurs don’t have a ton of knockown shooters on their roster, but Rudy Gay, Bryn Forbes, Davis Bertans, and Patty Mills have all started the year hot from three on a decent amount of attempts per game.
I think San Antonio should be looking for more three-pointers within the flow of their offense. That could help their offensive rating improve from 14th as the season progresses.
Next: Low foul rate
Low foul rate
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A hallmark of the Spurs’ incredible defensive numbers during the Gregg Popovich era has been their low foul rate.
While their defensive numbers aren’t nearly as impressive as they have been in the past (currently 23rd in defensive rating), they’ve continued to keep those foul numbers low with a league-best 18.7 fouls per game this season.
Today’s NBA stresses three-pointers, shots at the rim, and free throws as the most efficient shots in the game. San Antonio is doing a good job at preventing opposing offenses from getting to the line this year, which has kept their defensive stats from totally falling off a cliff.
Avoiding fouls also (obviously) keeps your players out of foul trouble, so Pop doesn’t have to adjust his rotations much during the game because a player picks up a couple of early fouls.
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Hopefully the Spurs’ continued success in avoiding personal fouls will be a baseline for defensive improvement in the coming months.