Remember how certain people were really hyping Tiago Splitter before the season as the big man the Spurs really needed to balance out the front line with Tim Duncan? Remember how people were saying he was going to be a difference maker for the Spurs this season?
Okay, that was me. I admit it. And we’ve seen flashes of that Splitter but mostly we’ve seen him sitting. He’s averaging just 11 minutes a game.
What happened? A fantastic post at Spurs blog 48 Minutes of Hell explains the litany of problems.
Remember that Splitter played deep into the European season last year then just straight into playing for Brazil for the World Championships. There he picked up a couple nagging injuries which he brought with him Spurs camp just a couple weeks after that. It was a lot of basketball.
Then came a strained right calf muscle a couple days into camp, which caused him to miss most of it.
“He had some things break down while he was in Europe and then he came here and had the problem with his calf,” Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich said earlier in the season. “I think all in all, his body is probably just telling him to take a break. So we don’t want to bring him back and stick him out there for an inordinate amount of time.”
Missing camp really hurt because Splitter has never been really comfortable in the Spurs offense this season. He has to set a lot of picks but it’s about timing and placement, and Splitter is off in those departments compared to other bigs on the Spurs roster. Popovich has options
So he hasn’t gotten a lot of run, then combine that with how well the Spurs are playing and you have a coach not about to give him big minutes to learn on the job.
“I can’t just go and experiment and give him 30 minutes to get him going,” Coach Pop said. “It’s not fair to him or to the whole group. It’s just got to happen slowly and we’ll see what’s required as far as the team is concerned because that’s what I have to look at.”
Come the playoffs when the Spurs could face longer front lines — Lakers, we’re looking at you — Splitter could play a key role. But for now, his minutes will be limited as he figures it all out.
As of tomorrow, training camps around the league open, and all the focus goes to the 2016-17 season.
For fun, let’s look back one more time at last season — the 50 top circus shots of last season.
Stephen Curry driving the lane and throwing up prayers once he draws contact (and hitting them), there is Russell Westbrook throwing the inbounds pass off an opponent’s back, and so much more. Enjoy. Then let’s get on with next season.
Kevin Garnett intimidates people. In the machismo-fueled world of professional sports nobody comfortably admits they were intimidated, but in the wake of Garnett announcing his retirement, a number of players stepped forward to say exactly that. And that KG trashed talked them fearlessly.
Oklahoma City’s Steven Adams found a way to avoid that — tell KG he didn’t speak English.
Adams was lucky, KG had a reputation for going harder at foreign-born players with his trash talk and intimidation. Then again Adams is not the kind of guy prone to be intimidated.
Athletes are injecting themselves into the needed national conversation about race, violence, and policing in this nation. That has taken some very public forms, including LeBron James, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade and Carmelo Anthony speaking at the ESPYs, and Colin Kaepernick taking a knee during the national anthem and leading others to do so. Some NBA players likely will follow Kaepernick’s lead.
Pistons coach/GM Stan Van Gundy likes seeing players speak out.
A couple of his Detroit players — Reggie Jackson and Marcus Morris — said they backed the 49ers quarterback. Here is what the never shy Van Gundy said about all of it, via Vincent Ellis of the Detroit Free Press.
“I’m encouraged by the fact of what some of those guys stood up and did at the ESPYs and had a conversation,” Van Gundy said. “I’m really proud of the fact that we have guys that not only see the problem, but want to try to do something about it…
“To me, in some ways, (police brutality is) just the most visible to focus on and it goes to deeper inequities in our criminal justice system, our education system so there’s so much to focus on,” Van Gundy said. “I think it’s great that we have players that want to be part of that conversation, and a lot of players that want to go beyond the conversation and be part of the solution.”
Van Gundy has been telling his players part of that solution is to vote.
The players union and NBA sent out a release saying they wanted to work together to create positive change, but details are still vague on what that might be. The only thing we know for sure as we head into the NBA season — with as divided a nation and election as anyone can remember as a backdrop — is that some NBA players are going to try and keep the conversation going.
It was the last game of the group stage of the 2000 Olympic basketball tournament at the Sydney Olympics, the USA was taking on France, another USA win on its way to another gold medal.
But what we all remember is this one play — Vince Carter dunking over the 7’2″ French center Frederic Weis.
Best. Dunk. Ever.
Weis was never the same.
In an impressive career — two-time All-NBA, eight-time All-Star, hours and hours of crazy highlights — this is always going to be the highlight at the top of the list. So we will use the anniversary of this dunk to look at it one more time.
Hat tip to nitramy at NBA Reddit.