The defending NBA Champion San Antonio Spurs proved to be the best team in the league during the playoffs in May and June. The organization was able to show a real aptitude for a team-oriented style of play focused on ball movement and quick decisions. As training camp draws near, one man is missing from that championship roster, C Aron Baynes. It is still unclear whether he will re-sign with the team.
Baynes was certainly not an integral part of the Spurs’ plan, as he rarely played unless major players were out or in foul trouble, or if the score was lopsided late in the game. His contributions were almost definitely more apparent in practices and on the bench than they were on the court. Baynes is a physical presence who can really hold his own down under (pun intended), but lacks some polish on certain skills. While he can provide a spark off the bench, the Spurs are much better off playing Tim Duncan, Tiago Splitter, Boris Diaw and even Kawhi Leonard at big-man positions.
As the NBA moves further away from the slow and physically grinding style of play that was so prevalent in years past, the Spurs need not keep many big men who find themselves uncomfortable out of the paint. If Baynes hasn’t been able to develop a trustworthy game out of the paint, there may not be much use for him in San Antonio, where all players are expected to run the offense and handle the ball from all over the court.
Baynes has shown flashes of really solid play during his time in San Antonio. His potential was shown during a 10-point seven rebound performance against Lamarcus Aldridge and the Portland Trail Blazers in Game 1 of the Western Conference Semifinals. The Spurs needed his physicality, and he provided it.
However, his role seems eerily familiar to that of DeJuan Blair, and as good as Blair was from time to time, his physical limitations kept him from thriving in San Antonio. Baynes seems to have the opposite problem; he has the physical tools, but not the skills to be a regular contributor with the team.
After the 2014 Summer League came to a close, San Antonio announced it had signed 6-foot-8 F JaMychal Green. It is not known if Green will stay with the team throughout the regular season, but Green is definitely a more versatile player.
It must be stated that the Spurs won it all with Baynes and he did contribute, but it would not be a shock if the Spurs looked to another, more versatile big man to fill Baynes’ role. As always, the Spurs organization should be fine, as it seems to make all its decisions work. Whether Baynes stays or leaves, the Spurs will get the most out of their roster and compete or championships.