It’s no secret that the Spurs’ system can produce, but as of late, the balanced attack of the full rotation has lead to an explosion of both wins and bench production.
San Antonio has yet to lose in the month of March. With the playoffs looming only four weeks away, Coach Popovich has made it apparent that a balanced workload is his go-to “coast-and-peak” factor for the season.
Though the wins keep piling up, the Spurs sport league lows in a couple of less-than-flashy areas. You need not fret, though; these statistical lows are what help give the Spurs their continued success.
For the season, San Antonio’s starters average only 26.9 minutes per game, dead last in the league. For comparative purposes, Portland leads the league in this category with 34.5 minutes played per starter, meaning each of their starters plays an average of 8 minutes more than each Spur starter. The near-miraculous contra aspect of this stat is the well-known fact that the Spurs are, in fact, first overall in the NBA standings.
So how are the Spurs so effective with relatively low starter production? It all comes back to “the system” that you always hear, a term that has become synonymous with the Spurs’ name itself.
“The system” is the cop-out term to refer to both the Spurs’ offense and their overall team structure. In a nut shell, the San Antonio front office prides itself on finding overlooked or relatively unsought players (which usually end up being foreign players) that fit the criteria of what they want to do offensively. This offense that San Antonio and Coach Popovich have trademarked relies heavily on movement, spacing, and, most of all, unselfishness.
The next time you watch a Spurs game, make an effort to try and see the difference between the overall play offensively of whichever team they’re playing. The average NBA team’s offense will rely heavily on a predetermined play call, usually designed to free up one or two of their main scoring options. The Spurs, however, relies almost entirely on court spacing and movement. Basically, each player just fills a spot on the floor and runs their offense accordingly, freeing up easy baskets for whichever weakness the opposing defense is exposing.
The offense isn’t full of flashy, high-flying alley oops or posterizing dunks. In fact, the Spurs are the absolute worst in the league at such, tallying up only a single alley oop for the entire season, which actually came after an inadvertent air-ball.
No, the Spurs won’t make too many SportsCenter Top 10s or put up sizzling 40 point performances too often, but boy do they win. Despite their low offensive production from the starters, the Spurs rank first overall in average bench minutes played (21.3) and bench points per game (45.6, 7 more than second place Brooklyn).
During their current 12-game winning streak, the Spurs have increased this bench production, averaging 21.8 minutes and a whopping 50.6 points per game in the last 10 games.
Even though the starters may seem to be putting up lackluster performances, they are merely being supported by the best bench in the NBA. If you ask me, I’d rather have the best overall team in the league over “Lob City” any day.