AT&T CENTER – Through 37 games this season, the San Antonio Spurs are 31-6 and they have the largest point differential in the NBA, as they’re outscoring teams by 14.2 points per game on the average night. With 14 point wins happening on the average night, the opportunity for some of the Spurs’ core players to rest in fourth quarters is happening more and more this season, so the coaching staff can keep players fresh for the latter part of the season and the playoffs.
Of the Spurs’ nine core players in the rotation (Tony Parker, Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, LaMarcus Aldridge, Tim Duncan, Patty Mills, Manu Ginobili, Boris Diaw, David West), check out how many of them have had a fourth quarter off this season, when you combine whether players were active or inactive that evening of the game.
Fourth Quarters Rested in 37 games
Mills – 2
Diaw – 4
Leonard – 6
Green – 7
West – 8
Ginobili – 10
Parker – 11
Aldridge – 14
Duncan – 17
When you look at the last five players on that list, it includes some of the elder Spurs on the roster in Duncan (39 years old), Ginobili (38 years old), and West (35 years old). Parker and Aldridge are also in their early 30s, but even they are able to buy more fourth quarters off with the large leads San Antonio is building.
So how many large leads are the Spurs building in games? Here are a few numbers presented in percentage form.
- In 81% of their games this season, the Spurs have built a 10-point lead (30 of 37 games). San Antonio is 29-1 when leading by at minimum 10 points.
- In nearly half their games this season (49%), the Spurs have built a 20-point lead (18 of 37 games). San Antonio is a perfect 25-0 once they build a lead past 15 against an opponent.
At home, the Spurs are undefeated with a 21-0 home record, where teams are walking out of the building having lost by 16.9 points on the average night. Even on the road, the Spurs are 10-6 and walking into buildings and outscoring teams by 10.8 points per game. Being able to build large leads in either venue through their first 37 games of the season is allowing the above mentioned fourth quarters, a few rest games for players like Duncan, Ginobili, Parker and Aldridge, but also even on nights when a player has a minor injury, San Antonio can hold that player out because they have such a deep roster contributing at an efficient level on most nights.
Not just discussing fourth quarters, but overall, only one Spur through 37 games is averaging more than 30 minutes per game – Leonard at 33.1 minutes per outing. Of any player off the bench, only Mills is averaging over 20 minutes a night with 21.0.
Popovich has even been able to get almost the entire team playing time at some point this season, as 13 of the 15 players on the roster have played in at least 21 games this season. The only two Spurs who haven’t’ played more than 21 games so far this season are Matt Bonner and Ray McCallum, who have both played in 16 games up to this point. With large leads, viewers are seeing players being developed on a nightly basis when deeper bench players like Jonathon Simmons, Boban Marjanovic and Kyle Anderson get to take the floor with some of the Spurs’ starters or bench players on different nights.
So long as the Spurs can maintain good health, these double digit leads and victories are leading to both developing player experience and resting opportunities for when the team will need all of their energy – April.