Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, and Tony Parker are three names that immediately come to mind when thinking of the San Antonio Spurs impact players. However, the player that could play the most important role for the Spurs this season is Tiago Splitter, a second year player from Brazil.
Splitter comes in at 6’11″ and 240 pounds, just 15 pounds lighter than Tim Duncan. Splitter obviously has a lot to learn, but he has been coming along very nicely for San Antonio. Splitter was one of the best picks of the 2007 draft. He did not come over right away because of a buyout clause with his European Club, but he is making an impact now that he is here.
Splitter exploded for a big game tonight, scoring 25 points and grabbing 10 rebounds to go along with four assists. Splitter was given some extra minutes tonight with Duncan resting, which allowed he and Tony Parker to dominate the game offensively. The rest of team did not play so hot, but this has got to be a huge confidence boost for Splitter.
This marks the third straight game in which Tiago has scored double digits in, and the eight in seventeen games this season. He is shooting nearly 60%, averaging 7.6 points per game. He has been shooting the ball well from the free throw line, connecting on 12 of his last 14 attempts while shooting 75% for the season.
Going forward, Tim Duncan is going to need games off and reduced minutes in others. Splitter is proving to Coach Popovich that he is deserving of those minutes, and I would like to see Pop give him some of those. If Tiago can play at this level, San Antonio will be in good shape come playoff time.
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