One of the things that has always been quite remarkable about the San Antonio Spurs is how they seem to succeed no matter who is on the floor for them. A large chunk of the credit for that is due to the scheme created by head coach Gregg Popovich, but the young talented players that the Spurs acquire deserve some of the merit as well.
The Spurs are still holding onto the one-seed in the NBA’s Western Conference right now and look poised, as always, to make some noise in the postseason. One of the reasons that they have continued their success recently has been the much improved play of rookie guard Nando De Colo over the last 10 games.
On the season, De Colo is averaging just 12.3 minutes of playing time per game. In those minutes he has been solid, but nothing really worth noticing. He has averaged just 3.8 points, 1.8 assists, 1.8 rebounds and 0.5 steals per game on 45.9 percent shooting from the field and 41.1 percent shooting from long range. In such a limited role, it’s obviously hard for him to have too much of an impact.
Over the Spurs’ last 10 games, though, De Colo has shown how much he has grown in his rookie season. He has appeared in nine of the 10 games and has averaged 18 minutes per game over that span. De Colo has taken advantage of that slight increase in minutes, averaging 6.7 points, 2.2 assists, 3.1 rebounds and one steal per game. Strikingly, De Colo has also shot 55.6 percent from the field and 56.3 percent from beyond the arc over this stretch.
De Colo’s recent performance has been impressive, but it may be incredibly important over the remaining weeks of this season. In the Spurs’ last game against the Thunder, starting point guard Tony Parker was limited with a leg injury that is still undiagnosed. Early reports, though, suspect that Parker will miss some time in the coming weeks.
With Parker out of the lineup, that is obviously going to increase De Colo’s workload. Given that the Spurs are in that battle for the top seed in the West, they are going to need solid production out of their platoon of backup point guards which includes De Colo. Though they may not have expected it, De Colo, if he can continue playing at this high level, could be a major factor in why San Antonio secures the one-seed in the West.