Like every fall for at least the last four years, the San Antonio Spurs aren't really being talked about nationally with the other league heavyweights like Miami, Oklahoma City and the Los Angeles Lakers. It's fine, it's what happens and Spurs fans should be used to it. What the national media writes and broadcasts isn't fact. The hype around the Knicks last season should be proof of that. One player who isn't listening to any hype around the Thunder and Lakers is Spurs back up center Tiago Splitter. Splitter told reporters in Sao Paolo last week that the Spurs are on equal footing with the rest of the Westen Conference heavyweights.
“In my opinion, we (San Antonio Spurs) are able to meet on equal footing these teams. We know that we need to strive in training so we can be right in season. (Gregg) Popovich is assembling a roster much like last year and it helps us. Yet, we know that the Spurs are never favourites,” added Splitter.
This is what players are supposed to say, right? Either way Splitter's words are encouraging. You know Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker aren't going to be intimidated by anyone in the league, but it's important that the role players think this as well. Splitter, for all the talk about his softness, is an extrememly confident guy. He's the been the best player on the Brazilian national team the last couple of years and was one of the best players in Europe for years before coming to the Spurs.
Everyone talks about Kawhi Leonard's development, but Tiago Splitter's first full training camp with the Spurs, assuming he stays healthy, is going to be critical for the Spurs. He's never going to be a great rim protector, but his per 36 minute numbers suggest Splitter can put up near All-Star numbers. Will the Spurs find more ways to get Splitter on the court with Duncan? If so then the Spurs will have to worry a little less about having enough size to compete.