With French guard Nando De Colo preparing to join the San Antonio Spurs for the next two seasons, I was interested in finding out exactly what De Colo would be bringing to the Spurs.
Since I live in the United States and cover the Spurs in San Antonio, I rarely get to see De Colo in action since he’s been playing in Spain over the last few years.
I wanted to know more about De Colo, so what better way to find out what he can possibly bring to the Spurs than to ask someone who follows De Colo in France?
French writer Vincent Thiollière, editor of the French basketball website InsideBasket.com, agreed to answer five questions for Project Spurs about the skills De Colo could bring to the team, some of De Colo’s strengths and weaknesses, and how he sees De Colo fitting into the Spurs’ system.
Paul: What are some of the strengths and weaknesses of Nando De Colo?
Thiollière: First of all, I would say Nando De Colo is a playmaker. He has an incredible feeling for the game; he is a very talented offensive player, the kind of player who can amaze the crowd with his creativity. He is a terrific passer, he can play both guard positions; play with the ball or far from it. He is a good 3-point shooter (and a great free-throw shooter), has a very efficient pull-up jumper and can create his own shot. To sum up, I would say he is a true combo guard, very skilled offensively, not afraid of the big moments. Plus he has really grown up since the Spurs drafted him in 09.
On the other hand, he never really faced very physical players as we found in the NBA, and I think that is the major doubt we can have. Will he be able to take and make the same shots against a strong athlete?
He is not known as a very good defender, not really strong either. His lack of athleticism and explosiveness could be a problem. He may need some time to adjust to the NBA intensity-level.
Will De Colo be comfortable playing backup point guard behind Tony Parker?
I really think so. He is a better point guard than Gary Neal who played the backup point guard position during the playoffs. He played a lot in that position in Spain the past three years, and he can run the offense, especially with the type of offense the Spurs play. When Tony was out earlier this summer, he took the starting point-guard spot in the French National Team and showed major improvements and maturity at this position. That is why Coach Vincent Collet decided this year not to bring a real point guard behind Tony Parker. De Colo will be the first back-up of Parker in the Olympics for France.
Offensively, the Spurs run a quick tempo style of offense and execute with pick-and-rolls in the halfcourt. How much will De Colo be able to contribute with this style of offense?
Quick tempo style? That is when he is at his best. Like I said before, he has an incredible feeling for the game. He is an instinctive player, very effective on the fastbreak or in the transition game where his creativity with the ball can express itself.
In the halfcourt, he is a pretty good pick-and-roll player. He can read the defense very quickly and take good decisions. I would say he is a perfect fit in this type of offense. His versatility on the offensive end makes him efficient in many different situations actually.
Defensively, will De Colo be able to keep up with the quick point guards and shooting guards in the NBA? Does he have the physical strength to defend small forwards in mismatch situations?
He is going to need some time to adjust I guess, because we don’t find players like Dwayne Wade, Russell Westbrook or Derrick Rose in Europe, I mean, players with so much speed and power at the guard position. He is not a very good defender mainly because he is not a strong and athletic player. He probably will be in trouble in mismatches situations against a very physical player. He can be fast on the passing lane though and he is a pretty decent stealer because he is a smart player. But defense will be the main doubt for him to be successful in the NBA.
How much of an impact do you see De Colo having on the Spurs next season even though they have three shooting guards already, and just one point guard? (Question was asked before word of Patty Mills re-signing was announced)
He will probably need some time at the beginning to do the transition between Europe and the NBA, but just as any European player in a first NBA season I guess. For example, Tiago Splitter needed one year before being effective, even if the injuries did not help him. On the other hand, Nando De Colo can bring so many things Danny Green and Gary Neal can’t, offensively. He doesn’t need much time on the court to be efficient. He knows Tony Parker and Boris Diaw very well of course (they played together in the French national Team for five years now) and this is a good thing for him. He won’t be totally lost in the offensive playbook either, the French National Team using some plays from the Spurs.
Plus, I really think he can be a good playmaker when Tony Parker goes out, more than Patty Mills who is a scorer-first point guard. Once again, if he can match the physical play of his opponents quickly, he will bring a solid contribution from the bench for sure.
Once again, a huge thanks goes out to Thiollière for answering the questions for Project Spurs and giving Spurs fans a clearer perspective on what De Colo will bring to the team. Be sure to check out his website InsideBasket.com.