The San Antonio Spurs have now recorded their second best start over 26 games in franchise history and their offensive ability could very well be why.
While the Spurs’ play has still looked inconsistent for a full 48 minutes, overall, they’re still in second place across the league (20-5), and that’s a position any team would likely enjoy being in while working through the season.
Prior to Thursday’s win over Phoenix, the Spurs had gotten back into their former style of play with multiple passes per possession and a good amount of assists (71 combined assists against Brooklyn and Boston). On the year, the Spurs are averaging 23.7 assists per game (6th overall).
With more ball movement in those two games against Brooklyn and Boston, the Spurs ended up shooting over 50% from the floor in those two contests. Another area where the Spurs remain efficient is in their mid-range shooting. The Spurs currently lead the league in getting 21.7% of their points from the mid-range area, and on those mid-range looks, San Antonio is shooting 43.3% from the floor (ranked 4th overall).
While mid-range shots have become an integral part of San Antonio basketball, the Spurs have also shown their skill behind the 3-point line. Fans are familiar with the countless threes knocked down by resident 3-point specialist, Danny Green, as well as the occasional triples from Patty Mills, Manu Ginobili, and Kawhi Leonard. This year, newcomer to San Antonio but veteran to the league, Pau Gasol, has already broken a Spurs team record for most 3-pointers made by a player seven feet or taller. Similarly, LaMarcus Aldridge, not known for making shots from downtown, has also made his share of 3-pointers.
In terms of shooting, the Spurs are performing exceptionally well. On the other hand, defensively, they still have room for improvement. This year, the Spurs are tied for fourth place in defensive rating (101.5 Points per 100 Possessions). Last year, in one of their best defensive campaigns, the Spurs were ranked first by only allowing opponents to score 96.6 Pp/100.
While the Spurs’ defense is not what is used to be, and their mid-range shot has become a valuable asset, it’s important to remember that teams and style of play are constantly shifting and changing. What works for a team one year might not be what they need the next. Change and versatility are good.
The Spurs might seem a bit inconsistent at the moment, but even with their inconsistency, being second in the league is still quite an accomplishment.