Anyone who's been watching local broadcasts of the team in the last few years is familiar with Sean Elliott's pleas for big men to dunk the ball. In the last couple of seasons, Poeltl was the main target of those requests. As a 7-1 center, he'd often go up with a soft layup only to miss or be blocked, which was far from ideal. This season, that's not happening.
Through six games, Poeltl has dunked the ball seven times. To give you an idea of how much that rate has increased, here's how many he had in full months last season.
January - 7
February - 4
March - 8
May - 6
The easy baskets are helping Poeltl average an impressive double-double in the early season at 14.3 points and 10.3 rebounds per game.
What has changed from last season to this one?
There are two main reasons Poeltl is getting dunks at a much higher rate than he did in the past. First of all, he deserves credit for being more aggressive with his rolls to the basket. This kind of aggression is exactly what I was calling for a couple of weeks ago when I wrote about players needing some more "nasty" in their game.
I mean really -- did you ever think you'd see Jakob Poeltl leading the NBA's top 10 plays?
Secondly, the Spurs' new strategy on offense has Jakob much more involved on the offensive end. The seven assists he had in the season opener was the second-most he's ever had in his career.
In addition to that, San Antonio's complete dismissal of isolation plays is allowing for a more wide-open offense built on pick and rolls and cutting to the basket. After going to isolations in 5.2% of their plays last season, they're down to 2.6% so far this season, the lowest in the NBA.
Coach Popovich is giving his starting center more responsibility than ever this season, and it's paying off so far. While the wins have yet to come, Jakob's new fondness for throwing it down is eventually going to help this young team find success.