The San Antonio Spurs are plagued with injuries, earlier in the season than in past years. Small forwards Kawhi Leonard and Stephen Jackson were bit by the injury bug first and shooting guards Danny Green and Gary Neal have fallen also.
This leaves this Spurs roster, once seen with a mega surplus of guards, thin in spots that were contributing more this year than years past. This leaves head coach Gregg Popovich with few options for his imagination with filling two starting spots, but one thing is for sure – the Spurs need Boris Diaw to step up more than ever.
Being from Arizona, I've seen Boris step up and carry a team to what some might call MVP type caliber play. When Amar'e Stoudemire was injured during the 2006 season, Diaw became the second option to the Phoenix Suns and showed what his versatility could do to opposing teams: backing down smaller guys, running past slower taller guys, and using his passing skills in both scenarios to the benefit of the team.
The Spurs need that Diaw to show up these next few games with all the injuries to the team. The Spurs still have their Big 3 of Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, and Tim Duncan but we've seen they can't carry a game with heavy minutes on a consistent basis anymore. They need a fourth option to disrupt the defense and make it easier for the whole team on offense.
Boris has started and came off the bench and needs to play at a high level in any role. If he were to start these next few games at small forward (which he's been playing this year), he needs to back down opposing small forwards and dare defenses to collapse on him. If he comes off the bench (whether Manu starts or not), he needs to play as a sixth man.
Diaw hasn't been as aggressive as we saw last season. He's been passing up shots, even ones close to the rim. With a thin roster, most of the guys that help create shots for others aren't going to be on the court and will need to make up for it..This short stretch is going to be the first one that the Spurs are going to be depending on Diaw to be a legitimate fourth option, the only thing that's left for us to see is if he'll stay passive or if he can channel the play he had 6 years ago when his team was one series away from the NBA Finals.