Tiago Splitter is a necessary role player.
Expensive but efficient and versatile that is in nut shell a short description of the man I call the Brazilian Tower. The 7 footer was signed to a contract extention last summer for four additional season for $ 36 million. Some commented that he was over paid. I remain convince, however, that Coach Popovich made the right call to resign Splitter in which he has invested so much time and knowledge into.
The Brazilian Tower is not a dominant player. However, he is a decisive role player. He is 7 feet tall and in shape, contrary to Andrew Bynum for instance, so he is mobile and fast for a big man. He can run the floor and roll fast on the pick and roll.
Offensively, he usually uses pump fakes masterfully underneath the basket to score when he is not dunkink. As mentioned, he is very efficient on the pick and roll which San Antonio uses a lot. If that was not enough, Tiago Splitter has developed into one of the best big man passer in the league.
Even though he usually plays around 25 minutes per game, he brings a two way effort. Defensively, he protects the paint and blocks shots. Ever since Pop associated David Robinson with Tim Duncan to create The Twin Tower and protect the paint, he has liked to play another 7 footer with Tim Duncan to do just that. In fact, such association allows Pop to play Duncan at the power forward position instead of center and allow him work both in the low post as in the mid-range area.
As a depressed Laker Fan objectivity commands me to consider this season as a complete disaster. Such a characterization cannot be made about the San Antonio Spurs.
By my count the Spurs are the best and most consistent and versatile team in the NBA. And if that was not enough, they have the best all-time great coach still alive or in activity in Greg Popovich. One of the most important element of their successes or lack there of in the post season is going to be their role players’ production. Will Tiago Splitter be a consistent 8 points, 8 rebounds, 1-2 blocks per game type of guy? He can and he must give such a production for the Spurs to efficiently play big and go deep in the playoffs.