Had just any team in the NBA signed Jeff Ayres (formerly known as Jeff Pendergraph) this summer, you probably would have thought of it as just another body to sit on the end of the bench. When the San Antonio Spurs enlisted his services for the 2013-14 season, though, we should have known that they had plans for the big man.
Obviously no team really wants to plan for injuries to key players, but it’s something that does happen and you have to believe Ayres coming to the Spurs was a move made with similar motivations. Now that Tiago Splitter is out with a sprained shoulder, Ayres is now getting bigger minutes as a role player and has been in the starting lineup several times.
On Wednesday night against the Utah Jazz, Ayres had a relatively mundane but productive night. In 29 minutes, Ayres put up 10 points, four rebounds and two assists while hitting five of his six field goal attempts. He was energetic and played smart for the most part and helped the Spurs hold on for a 109-105 win.
In the five games that Splitter has been out now, Ayres has been playing quite well. In 19.7 minutes per game, he’s averaged 5.4 points, 5.6 rebounds, one assists and 0.6 blocks per game while hitting 76.5 percent of his shots.
Ayres is still not the most skilled guy in the league and he’s not going to be matching the production of Tim Duncan in the Spurs’ frontcourt, but he’s filling his role quite well currently with Splitter out of the lineup. Essentially, San Antonio needs him to come in, rebound well, play with energy, and not make too many mistakes. We’ll see if he keeps it up, but that’s exactly what Ayres has been doing over the start of Splitter’s absence.