Popovich on Dedmon starting: 'He gives us the best chance to win basketball games'

PHILADELPHIA, PA - FEBRUARY 8: Dewayne Dedmon #3 of the San Antonio Spurs dunks the ball in the first quarter against the Philadelphia 76ers at the Wells Fargo Center on February 8, 2017 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Spurs defeated the 76ers 111-103. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

AT&T CENTER – San Antonio Spurs center Dewayne Dedmon will make his 15th start of the season with the Spurs Wednesday when San Antonio hosts the Indiana Pacers, and by the words of Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich, it seems like Dedmon might be the regular starting center going forward.

“It just fits,” said Popovich about Dedmon starting the game. “Whatever gives you the best chance to win basketball games. That’s why we’re doing it. We think he gives us the best chance to win basketball games.”

While on paper Pau Gasol looks like the better starting center option (11.9 points, 8.0 rebounds, 1.1 blocks) compared to Dedmon (5.4 points, 6.7 rebounds), it’s what Dedmon is providing to the Spurs on the defensive end that is really making it a tough decision not to start him.

Per NBA.com, all nine of the Spurs’ core players (Tony Parker, Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, LaMarcus Aldridge, Gasol, Patty Mills, Manu Ginobili, Jonathon Simmons, David Lee) have a Defensive Rating below 100 points per 100 possessions when Dedmon is on the floor with them.

Now, it’s not like the Spurs were horrible with Gasol starting, as they still had a very effective lineup that scored 113.5 PP/100 and held teams to 104.6 Pp/100, which had a stellar Net Rating of +8.9 Pp/100 in 349 minutes.

But, with Dedmon, the Spurs’ efficiency goes to another level. In 138 minutes, the Spurs’ starting group with Dedmon has an offensive rating of 110.7 Pp/100 and a suffocating Defensive Rating of 91.9 PP/100, which gives that unit a Net Rating of +18.9 PP/100.

If this will indeed be Dedmon’s starting job going forward, the Spurs will now have to try to use these final 20+ games to build more chemistry between he and the starters before the playoffs kick off in April, and the same can be said about Gasol adapting with the second unit.


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