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An impartial view about Tiago Splitter

An impartial view about Tiago Splitter

I just created it because I'm seeing a lot of people talking about Splitter, some say "my friend says that" or "I've heard that" but nothing really concrete about him. I'm concerned about how Spurs' fans look at him. To start, I'm going to explain that I'm Brazilian, but I really love Argentina, I hate Brazilian National Teams, and Brazilian players at all. I love Euro basketball, I've always watched Caja Laboral (former TAU, Splitter's team), because since I've been born, there's always an Argentine there (Andres Nocioni, Luis Scola, Pablo Prigioni, now Walter Herrmann), and I'd like to say some things about Tiago Splitter.

I've always been skeptical about him, of course he's a Brazilian, first I thought he probably didn't play his heart out, he didn't hustle, we wasn't physical, he lacked defensive effort, he just cared about scoring on his own, and this kind of bullshit. I was wrong. After all these years, he proved me wrong.

I'm going to tell you why:

First of all, he's a gifted athlete. He's basically a 7 footer (6'11 and 3/4, 212cms), with an absurd wingspan, and explosion on short moves. If there's a guy to jump over any C for a hook shot, that's Splitter. He makes quick moves, and he's got size. He would own guys like Kenyon Martin, Lamar Odom, Boozer, Randolph, Love, Kristic, based on his height/length advantage, and bigger but slower guys, like Yao, Okur, Spencer Hayes, etc.

Then you might think that scoring is not that easy, and it isn't. But Splitter is a very, but very polished player on the post. He's got the soft touch. He can hook it perfectly from anywhere near 8 feet around the basket. He can back down any C on the right wing, go right at his body and finish with an up and under lay-in, he can extend his shots with his long arms, without losing his balance. Few players in the world can do that (Gasol, Garnett are two of them). He can't shoot an 18 footer, but he's getting better at the FT line. He's inconsistent, just like Duncan, but he's on the 70/72% range, right now. That's pretty good considering how bad he was when he went to Spain, and how often he gets to the line.

He has been the best player on the team for years. He has drawn attention from defenses like never before this year, specially, after the departure of Prigioni, Igor Rakocevic, and Pete Mickael. And what could be the worst thing for a 6'11 center, post scorer, is becoming one of his strengths. I watched a couple of playoff games (Caja Laboral facing Real Madrid), he was getting doubled, pressured, fouled, but he overcame it perfectly. He had 3 games if I'm not wrong with 5+ assists, on euro-basket (assists are like 50% harder to be credited). He's intelligent, he reads defenses, he can pass the ball (he's got this soft touch, not like Gasol, but he makes good passes for guys cutting to the basket, shooters off screens). He isn't very reliable on a cross court pass, for an example, or a very good ball handler, like Bargnani, but he's got a game. He can come to the NBA, be a 15+ ppg, 8rpg player easily, as a rookie. He finishes pick 'n rolls, he can go strong to the basket. He's a much better player than Marc Gasol, to use an example. He has the quickness Marc lacks.

He needs to get better on the defense end, he needs to become a more intelligent, scrappy defender. But there’s no place in the world better than the Spurs to learn this. He’s improved a lot, a couple of years ago, I’d say that there wasn’t a more stupid defender than Splitter (he was always in foul trouble, he was caught in fakes, stupid post moves. He lacked physicality) – but he improved a lot. This allowed him to contribute even more, playing more minutes, specially late in the games. And he’s proven himself valuable. He’s been targeted late in the games, and he’s playing his butts off.

He’s not a speedy player, he needs to work with average/good post position, he can play 1-on-1 defense, he’s a much better team defender, he can rotate now (he still needs to improve), but he fits exactly what we need. I mean, he’d become an inside presence, playing with Tim Duncan, that would mean dominance inside, that’s what the Lakers did to their opponents. LA isn’t playing their best basketball, but they dominated Oklahoma, Utah, all inside. McDyess failed, Matt Bonner is a failure, Blair is undersized, he can’t even try to stop Gasol, Nowitzki, Stoudemire.

Splitter is a must for another championship run. We’re pretty much stuck and screwed with McDyess and Jefferson, but Splitter is a full mid-level exception player, for as much years as we can get. I can’t even envision him being a bust. He has the tools, the skills to be a scorer, the tools and the work ethic to be a good defender.

That’s my opinion, I’d love to be talking about a new Argentine player, but gotta give up on Splitter. He’s as good as any Euro player gets. He needs to be used correctly, Pop probably will, and he’s an above average starter as a rookie. Please comment, I'd like to see what do you expect from him. And BTW, I think the odds of him coming are close to 60/70%. What could screw our lives is another euro power house, like Real Madrid, CSKA or Olympiacos, offering anything close to 8M Euros annually.

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