Through 23 games without Kawhi Leonard, the San Antonio Spurs have managed to hold the third best record in the Western Conference with a 15-8 record. Defensively, the Spurs continue to be a monster even without Leonard, as they have the second-best defense in the league as of Sunday evening, as they’re holding teams to 100.2 points per 100 possessions.
The other end of the court, where the Spurs need to put the ball in the basket is where the Spurs are struggling without Leonard. San Antonio ranks 18th offensively, scoring 104.3 PP/100. While the offense still needs some improvement, one area that is trending in the right direction both for now and the future is the shooting of LaMarcus Aldirdge and Pau Gasol from the left low block in the post.
While a post-up mid-range face up or turnaround jumper isn’t the ideal shot you’d want on a possession, it can be good shot to have for your team if two of your leading shot takers are shooting above league average, especially, if it’s a late shot to go to in a possession when nothing else has prospered.
This is something San Antonio is using now and it could continue to be a plus heading into the future once Leonard returns. From the left low block, which is where the Spurs typically try to find Aldridge and Gasol on post-ups, both players are shooting above league average from the following areas on the floor.
The area to focus on for Aldridge (top) and Gasol (bottom) is the left low block. For Aldridge, it’s the area that shows he’s shooting 27 of 59 (45.8%). For Gasol, it’s the area that shows he’s shooting 5 of 11 (45.5%). According to the data, Aldridge is shooting 6.4% above league average from that area.
While Gasol doesn’t get as many shots as Aldridge from that area, he too is shooting 6.4% above league average from the lower left block.
When it comes to the same range but from the right block, both players have less attempts, but Gasol still manages to shoot above league average. In the right low block, Aldridge is shooting 4 of 13 (30.8%), which is 7.7% below league average. For Gasol, he’s made 5 of his 7 shots on the right low block, which is 32.9% above league average.
Again, while this type of post-up shot isn’t a priority for Gasol, it’s a good backup shot to have on either end when the Spurs need a late shot in a possession. Once Leonard returns, his dribble penetration ability and attention he’ll draw from the defense should allow more spot-up looks, or looks near the basket for his teammates. However, in the event he needs to score in either low block, he shot above league average from both the right and left block last season.
For the Spurs, the initial objective on an offensive possession will usually be to get an open spot-up look, or an attempt at the rim, but, if something can’t open up and there’s eight seconds left on the shot clock, San Antonio will have the option to dump it down to Aldridge, Gasol, or Leonard in the low block, and the data shows those will be above league average looks based on their percentages.