Put Him In Coach Pop!

By Robby Lim

With Tony Parker and Tim Duncan currently out of the lineup due to injuries, Spurs fans have seen changes with the Spurs’ starting line up and overall player rotation. In the Raptors and Mavericks games, we saw George Hill start at point guard spot, Keith Bogans start over Matt Bonner and Antonio McDyess and DeJuan Blair get more playing time.

Basically the Spurs need all the help they can get. Knowing this, shouldn’t this be a good time to bring in another player into the rotation? Namely Malik Hairston.

Now we all know Pop likes to play the veterans much more than younger players and the chances of Hairston getting minutes are small especially playing behind guys like Finley, and Bogans.  But he can provide an added “punch” to this team. He brings hustle and defense to the team.  We’ve seen this from him in past games for the Spurs last year, in the 2009 NBA Vegas Summer League and in the 2009 preseason.

In his first three preseason games, Hairston showed his offensive productivity averaging 6.3 points, 3.7 rebounds and 2.3 assists in just 16 minutes of playing time.  Last year in 15 games he played for the Spurs, he averaged 3.3 points and 1.9 rebounds while shooting 49% from the field while playing 10 minutes per ball game.

Not only that, Coach Pop was also impressed with his dedication to defense.

“Malik’s doing a fine job,” Popovich said. “He’s obviously concentrating on playing good defense; doing good work in that area. That’s an emphasis for everybody, all the young kids. You need to get that part of the program down first, and he’s definitely doing that.”
It’s important to note that during this preseason, the Spurs thought of not filling the final spot. But Hairston did make the cut and Coach Popovich played him in crucial late game situations. That speaks volumes. It shows Pop has confidence in him.

In addition, Roger Mason is currently struggling and contributing little to the team. In seven regular season games, Mason is only shooting 28.3% from the field and is woeful beyond the arc at 22.2%. Why not give Hairston a shot to perform and prove himself. Sit Mason and give this young fella some time on the floor.  Let’s take it a step more.  Why not rest Michael Finley and play Hairston.  Finley is a liability on defense and when his shot isn’t falling, he pretty much is not going to contribute anything to the Spurs. 

Adding him into the mix can be a good thing. He has proven he can step up in regular season games when he had an impressive game last year against the Denver Nuggets when he scored 12 points, grabbed 5 boards and added 1 block and a steal on 6-of-8 shooting in 20 minutes of action.

Defensively, Hairston has length to disrupt an opposing team’s offensive flow and can play on-ball defense. He’s deceptively quick for his size and has excellent timing and strength. Plus, with the Spurs defense not clicking at times (see the Raptors game) a guy like Hairston would come in handy.  I’m not saying he is our defensive stopper but give him the minutes and he might develop into one.
In other words given the minutes, this guy can contribute. Hairston has all the tools to be a solid contributor on the offensive side and the defensive side of the court.

What do you guys think? Should Pop give Hairston some time on the court?  Who would you bench for Hairston?  Please leave us your comments and thoughts.