Tuesday, June 4, 2013
Young role players help Spurs reach Finals
By Ryan Grace, ESPN Stats & Info
Harry How/Getty Images
As the Spurs' big three gets older, the development of San Antonio’s young role players has helped the team stay successful.
The San Antonio Spurs' big three has been consistent for the past decade. But as the Spurs’ core gets older, how does the team continue to be successful?
The development and improvement of Kawhi Leonard, Tiago Splitter and Danny Green have provided a youthful punch to elevate the Spurs past their opponents.
In last season’s playoffs, Leonard, Splitter and Green combined to average 21.8 points, 11.9 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game. This season, those numbers have jumped to 29.4 points, 15.8 rebounds and 4.7 assists per game.
Leonard: Mr. Do-It-All
The Spurs average 0.93 points per play in the half court this postseason, second best in the NBA behind the Miami Heat. Leonard has been the team’s most efficient player in the half court, averaging 1.12 points per play (minimum 55 plays).
Leonard is scoring on 52.3 percent of his half-court plays this postseason, which ranks first among qualified players.
Leonard also has been the most efficient defender for the Spurs this postseason. When Leonard is off the court, Spurs’ opponents average 6.5 more points per 100 possessions than when he is on the court.
Splitter excels on both ends
Of the 87 players with at least 60 plays on defense this postseason, Splitter ranks fourth in the league, limiting opponents to 0.66 points per play.
This postseason, Splitter held Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol, Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph to a combined 31.3 percent shooting in eight games. Prior to facing Splitter, Randolph averaged a playoff-high 9.9 post-up points per game. In four games against the Spurs, he averaged 4.2 points per game in the post.
Splitter was the fourth-most efficient scorer as a pick-and-roll screener during the regular season, averaging 1.23 points per play (minimum 100 plays). Splitter has elevated his game in the playoffs, averaging 1.50 points per play on 83.3 percent shooting when he rolls to the basket.
Green emerging as two-way player
Green has taken the third-most catch-and-shoot shots (64) this postseason. Of the 39 players with at least 30 such plays, Green ranks seventh in the league in points per play. Green has the second-most catch-and-shoot makes this postseason behind Chris Bosh, and he has been more efficient on catch-and-shoots than Ray Allen, Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry.
Overall, Green has been especially effective shooting 3-point field goals from the corners, making a team-high 52.9 percent of such shots this postseason (10-of-19).
In the second round of the playoffs, Green was asked to guard Curry and held him to 25 points in six games on 22.9 percent shooting, including 2-of-16 (12.5 pct.) from the 3-point line. Curry entered the series shooting 44.2 percent in the playoffs.