Originally written on Project Spurs  |  Last updated 12/26/12
Nando De Colo's rookie season with the San Antonio Spurs wasn't supposed to be this impressive. He was supposed to be learning how to play the NBA style and grab a feel for things with his new teammates. The knock on him was that he wasn't athletic enough to be relevant in the game and his defense was poor. If you've seen him play with the Spurs so far this season, you know that was all a myth. He's exceeded what he was supposed to bring to the team as his coach Gregg Popovich explained after the Spurs defeated the Dallas Mavericks. Pop explained that De Colo's "good feel for the game" and "making his teammates better" by involving them in plays (Manu Ginobili comparison anyone?) with his "excellent court vision have earned him extended minutes. The biggest concern the Spurs and their fans had about him were the ramblings that he wasn't any good defensively.  Standing at 6'5" and not very athletic, he was expected to help the team solely on the offensive end, but his defense has caught the eye of his head coach. Coach Pop stated after the game that his defense "is better than we thought it was." With a Spurs team looking to defend while scoring as many points as they can, the schemes have also helped De Colo not be too pressured to be a lock down defender and allows him to get help against the better plays in the league. The biggest compliment Pop had for him was saying De Colo "wasn't impressed by big moments." He's not scared to be on the big stage and that will play as a huge factor for a team that's looking to end the season hoisting up a trophy in June. This demeanor should be the attribute that makes Nando a Spurs type player. His lack of athleticism hasn't hindered him from playing defense (Bruce Bowen wasn't considered athletic either) nor is Ginobili more athletic at this point of his career than De Colo and he's very productive. If you had to compare Nando to any current or former Spur, he'd fit perfect in the Brent Barry category as a guy who's versatile, not very athletic, can shoot the ball, and pass the ball while playing 3 different positions if needed. What made Barry important to the team was his lack of fear in the big moments and if De Colo can keep showing that with this team, it'll be hard to not picture the Spurs having the commissioner hand them a Larry O'Brien trophy at the end of the postseason.
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