Leonard's Return Sparks Spurs' Renaissance
By Jay Cipoletti
Since a Feb. 10 loss at Detroit, the Spurs have won 10 of 11, including road wins over the Clippers, Trail Blazers and Bulls, and a home win over defending champion Miami.
Since Kawhi Leonard returned from his broken hand on Feb. 26, the Spurs are 7-0 with a Net Rating of 11.9 over that span, second best in the League behind the surging Clippers. Prior to Leonard's injury on Jan. 22, the Spurs were 32-10 with an 8.7 Net Rating that topped the Western Conference and was second overall behind only the Pacers. In the 14 games Leonard was out, the Spurs eked out an 8-6 mark despite a Net Rating of 0.1.
|Timeframe||W-L||OffRtg||DefRtg||NetRtg||League Rank||West Rank|
Is it really as simple as one player returning from injury?
Not quite. Equally important is that two members of their Big 3 -- Tim Duncan and Tony Parker -- have remained relatively healthy, playing in 58 and 52 games, respectively. As we pointed out in our season preview of San Antonio, how they play will never be in question with Pop on the bench. Who would make up their Big 3 was the Big Question entering the season.
|Age of Big 3|
|Durant 25||James 28||Duncan 37||George 23||Gasol 28|
|Westbrook 24||Wade 31||Parker 31||Hibbert 26||Conley 26|
|Ibaka 24||Bosh 29||Ginobli 36||Hill 27||Randolph 32|
|Green 26||Stephenson 23|
Leonard's emergence has allowed Manu Ginobili to transition into more time with the second unit, enabling the Spurs to sustain their efficient level of play deep into their rotation. Among two-player lineups that have played a minimum of 100 minutes for San Antonio, Ginobili is found in four of the top five Net Rating pairings.
|Ginobili - Mills||541||114.5||91.6||22.9|
|Ginobili - Splitter||289||115.4||92.5||22.9|
|Ginobili - Green||305||114.7||92.9||21.8|
|Ginobili - Ayres||322||113.6||92.6||21.0|