Last season, Jakob Poeltl took 73.4 percent of his shots right at the rim inside the restricted area (and, coincidentally, shot 73.4 percent on those attempts), and 95 percent of his shots attempts came within 10 feet of the rim. He’s not part of the new wave of big men looking to space the floor out to the arc.
Nor is he looking to become that guy.
Traded to the Spurs in the Kawhi Leonard deal, Poeltl told Jabari Young of the San Antonio Express News he thinks his touch around the rim and how he gets those shots — primarily off cuts or being the roll man after setting a pick — is something that will translate well to the Spurs.
“I think I’m most comfortable being around the basket in pick and roll situations and relocation situations; really working off my teammates,” said Poeltl. “I’m working a lot on my shooting trying to stretch it out a little more. It’s not my main focus at this time, but like I said, I have a pretty good touch around the rim. That’s where I do the most damage.”
Poeltl played well in his 18.6 minutes off the bench a game last season in Toronto, where he was efficient on offense and blocked 1.2 shots per game. Gregg Popovich are expected to lean on him more (in excess of 20 minutes a night) and no team is better at putting a player in position to play to their strengths than the Spurs. It’s a big part of their success with role players.
I like that he wants to play to what he does best, not force himself into a mold that is not a fit.
If he plays well in his new role, Poeltl would be both good for the Spurs and a sneaky good late-round fantasy pickup in a deep league (or, for daily, on the right night). Entering his third season, Poeltl is going to get new and more opportunities than he has seen in the past. If he wants to get paid with that next contract, he has to start earning that money this season.