Technically, Tiago Splitter is an NBA rookie. He should be getting donuts for the vets and carrying luggage.
But Splitter is a veteran of the top European league, he’s been the best center on the continent for a couple years. He has played in world championships. Don’t confuse him for some raw 19-year-old who sleepwalked through a year of college ball.
Just ask Antonio McDyess, the veteran whose minutes Splitter could take. The San Antonio News Express did just that.
“He’s really good,” McDyess said. “He’s really strong and posts up strong. He goes hard every play.”
Many Spurs players struggle in early practices because of Coach Gregg Popovich’s demanding offensive and defensive philosophy. But Splitter was a quick study, according to McDyess.
“He catches on quickly,” McDyess said. “I was surprised how quickly he caught on. This is a tough system to learn and he was catching on.”
Splitter is not walking in the door an All-Star, but he is walking in the door an upgrade at the five. He makes the Spurs better, and he’ll make Tim Duncan better.
A lot of things have to go right for the Spurs to dethrone the Lakers. Pretty much everything for the Spurs and the Lakers need to take a step back. But Splitter at the five is one thing that can have people dreaming a little along the Riverwalk.
Khris Middleton has more expectations and more pressure on him after a breakout season in Milwaukee, followed by him getting him PAID this summer.
Well, he looked pretty good on this play against the Bulls, making the steal then throwing down despite Jimmy Butler‘s efforts to stop him.
Middleton finished with 10 points on 5-of-7 shooting for the Bucks. However, Butler had the last laugh as he went off for 23 points on 12 shots and led the Bulls to the (meaningless) preseason win.
Paul George‘s first experience starting as a power forward was going up against Anthony Davis — not just one of the best power forwards in the game, one of the handful of best players in the game period. That didn’t go well for George, and he wasn’t happy about it.
His second experience was in another preseason game Tuesday, going up against the Pistons and their four, Ersan İlyasova. He’s not quite as intimidating.
George scored 20 points on 7-of-8 shooting, 4-of-5 on threes — and that was just the first quarter (you can see it all in the video above).
As we have said before, George at the four is not a bad call by the Pacers, but some of that depends on the matchup. On the nights the Pacers face Davis or Blake Griffin or LaMarcus Aldridge or Zach Randolph (or a handful of others) the Pacers’ coaching staff is going to have to adjust. But there are a lot of nights where George at the four is going to force the other team to adjust, and that will play into the Pacers’ hands.