Originally written on Project Spurs  |  Last updated 11/19/14
The past two haven't been an easy transition for Tiago Splitter. He was a very timid player who didn't know how to fit in with a team that started playing a free flow type offense and his defense wasn't the best either.  This year is a different story and the San Antonio Spurs are reaping the rewards of Splitter's adjustment to the league. His head coach Gregg Popovich has praised him for improvement on his free throw shooting (which he said he believes is what's building up his confidence), but the main part of Splitter's game that's made the Spurs offense difficult to guard is Tiago's play in the pick and roll game. This is what Coach Pop said about his pick-and-rolls. "He's a great pick-and-roll player. He rolls to the basket. He knows how to space things. Players enjoy playing with him the way he rolls and catches." Splitter is a very quick footed guy and that helps him with rolling to the basket. There's a few bigs that are good pick setters (Tim Duncan for example) and guys who don't set good picks and prefer to roll instead (Dejuan Blair as an example of this). With Splitter setting a good pick the majority of the time, that bumps the guard from catching up to a Tony Parker or Manu Ginobili which forces Splitter's man to jump out on the ball handler. Now that Tiago's more comfortable with the Spurs, he quickly rolls to the lane (usually with a lot of space because of the attention the Spurs guard is getting from two opposing players) and either has a clear layup/dunk or, if the defense decides to help somewhere, has the passing ability to throw a clean pass to a teammate for an three point shot. This is something the Spurs haven't had in a long time. Splitter's game is probably the most versatile from the San Antonio big men. Duncan has transformed himself into a jump shooter with an occasional post up game and Boris Diaw is more of a passive player who prefers to pass than score the majority of the time. The end of the bench consists of Dejuan Blair who prefers to roll and score while Matt Bonner prefers to pick and pop. With the rest of the Spurs' bigs having big limitations in their pick and roll games, you can see why Splitter has been so valuable this year.
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