ESPN's Stephen A. Smith is showing, shockingly, the one quality that is not shared among all the media talking heads -- the ability to keep an open mind and re-evaluate one’s thoughts and opinions.
Most folks seem to make their first evaluation and stick with it. So for this reason, kudos are in order for Mr. Stephen A. Smith. See, Smith, in the past, has never backed down from voicing his dislike for San Antonio Spurs' Tiago Splitter. However, Tiago’s improved performance this season seems to have changed his mind.
For all the hoopla surrounding Tiago the past two seasons, expecting him to fit seamlessly in to the Spurs, was a bit much. He was expected to be an updated version of the "Twin Towers" in the paint next to Tim Duncan. But, we all know it takes a couple of seasons to fit in to the Spurs offense and earn Coach Popovich’s trust.
As his first two seasons progressed, Tiago was getting more minutes and more touches. Coach Popovich still didn’t have the faith to put give him crunch time minutes. This lack of faith was shown during the Oklahoma City series. As the series progressed, Tiago was getting fewer and fewer minutes down the stretch.
To Tiago’s credit he didn’t mail it in and go in to a shell. The Olympics came at a great time for him. Being a part of the Brazilian team gave him an opportunity to work on improving his confidence and getting crucial crunch minutes.
So with the "Big 3" all missing time during the season, the opportunity for a bigger role presented itself. Splitter was ready to take advantage by producing improved stats from last season.
If Tiago continues with the increase in production, a larger role with a longer leash will be in the works for the Playoffs.
Aron Baynes would be suited well to take time and speak with Tiago. Having gone through the acclimation process recently, he would be a valuable asset for Aron to lean on when going through the expectations that are present with the Spurs system.
Now, if Smith can only realize the Spurs are for real this season, that would be a miracle.