Spurs’ Percentile Rankings by Position Through 19 Games

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Photo courtesy: NBA.com

Nine San Antonio Spurs players are averaging more than 15 minutes per game this season, as the Spurs sit 12-7 as of Sunday evening. Focusing in on the nine players individually, one can see just where they rank amongst their peers by the position they most frequently play and whether that play is in the top or bottom percentile in some specific categories.

Using the data from CleaningTheGlass.com, the nine Spurs players have been grouped by the position they most frequently play and the data set that has been selected focuses in on if that player ranks in the 0-20th percentile (bottom of the league) for a stat category, or the 80-100th percentile (top of the league).

The data is analyzed below with a brief description of the position and how the statistical categories apply to those players.

Points: Patty Mills and Dejounte Murray – The point is basically a player who specifically plays the point guard or 1 position with most of their minutes on the floor this season.

StatPlayerPercentilePercentage or Number
UsageMills19th18.7%
Points Per Shot AttemptMurray9th84.7 PP/100
Assist %Mills11th19.9%
Assist %Murray9th18.7%
Turnover %Mills80th11.6%
Foul %Mills80th2.5%
FGOR%Murray100th6.6%
FGDR%Murray97th16.7%

Mills has had to go from starting the season on the bench to currently starting for the Spurs at the point with Tony Parker out. With the offense being run primarily through LaMarcus Aldridge, Mills doesn’t have too much responsibility on his shoulders compared to other point guards around the league as he has one of the lower usage rates by only using 18.7% of the team’s possessions.

Compared to other points in the NBA, Murray is scoring just 84.7 of every 100 shots he takes. In terms of the Assist %, which is how many of his teams assists the player accounted for, both Mills and Murray have some of the lower assist percentages because they’re not usually their teams go-to options who create shots for others.

One thing Mills does very well compared to his peers at the point position is he takes care of the ball, as he’s only turning the ball over on 11.6% of his teams possessions. One strength Mills has on defense is he doesn’t foul very much, as he’s only accounting for 2.5% of his team’s fouls.

For the size and length he possesses as a point guard, Murray is using those strengths to his advantage when he attacks the glass, as he’s one of the premier point guards who collects rebounds on either end of the floor compared to his peers.

Wings: Danny Green, Manu Ginobili, and Bryn Forbes – The wing is a player who mostly plays at the 2 and 3 positions when they’re on the floor.

StatPlayerPercentilePercentage
Assist %Ginobili84th17.3%
Turnover %Green20th14.6%
Turnover %Ginobili5th17.7%
Turnover %Forbes90th7.3%
Block %Green95th1.9%
Foul %Green92nd1.7%
Foul %Ginobili14th4.2%
FGDR%Ginobili20th8.1%

Despite being 40 years old, Ginobili is still being relied upon in his minutes off the bench, as he’s accounting for 17.3% of his teams assists and ranking in the upper percentile among his peers who play the wing position.

With more responsibility to handle the ball since Leonard is out, Green has also seen an increase in his turnover percentage. However, once Leonard and Parker return, that number should go down a bit since Green won’t have as much to do offensively in terms of creating shots for himself or others. With Ginobili, he’s been known to take risks when moving the ball and it shows in the data, as he accounts for 17.7% of his team’s turnovers. With Forbes being a spot-up shooter who can sometimes create a shot off the dribble, he rarely turns the ball over, as he’s only turning the ball over on 7.3% of his possessions.

Green’s defensive traits continue to show in the data, as he’s one of the better wings in terms of blocking shots and not putting opponents on the foul line. Meanwhile, Ginobili has seen an increase in his number of fouls he’s using since the 2011-12 season. With Ginobili looking to get out on the break, he doesn’t go for too many defensive rebounds compared to other wings across the league.

Forwards: Kyle Anderson and Rudy Gay – Being a forward means a player is playing most of their minutes at the 3 and 4 positions.

StatPlayerPercentilePercentage
UsageGay82nd23.4%
Assist %Anderson85th17.5%
Block %Anderson90th1.7%
Steal %Gay82nd2.1%
FGOR%Anderson97th5.8%
FGOR%Gay95th5.8%

Even though Gay has only been a Spur for 19 games, San Antonio is relying on him to create on offense, as he has one of the higher usage rates for forwards in the league. That number may slightly dip down a bit once Parker returns, and then even more when Leonard comes back.

You can see Anderson’s versatility as a former point guard, as he’s accounting for 17.5% of his teams assists, where he can pass from different areas on the floor. Despite being known as ‘Slow-Mo,’ Anderson is showing a knack of knowing when to time his jump on blocks, as he’s one of the better forwards who blocks shots in the league. With Gay’s size and length, he disrupts passing lanes and it’s showing as he’s one of the top players in creating steals among forwards.

Lastly, both Gay and Anderson have shown they’re two of the top offensive rebounders in the league at their position. Even though Anderson isn’t known as an outside threat, he still knows how to position himself on the offensive end to collect extra possessions for his team.

Bigs: LaMarcus Aldridge and Pau Gasol – A big is a player primarily playing most of their minutes at the 4 and 5 positions.

StatPlayerPercentilePercentage 
UsageAldridge94th26.5%
Assist %Aldridge83rd12.9%
Assist %Gasol94th20.8%
Turnover %Aldridge97th8.1%
Foul %Aldridge83rd2.8%
Foul %Gasol87th2.7%
Steal %Gasol8th0.5%
FGDR%Gasol80th22.7%

With Leonard out, the Spurs have made Aldridge their go-to option on offense and it’s showing, as he is one of the top bigs who has to create scoring opportunities for himself or others. When Aldridge is seeing double teams, he’s making sure to get the ball out of his hands, as he ranks very well for a big in terms of assist percentage. With Gasol’s ability to pass inside or out from all sorts of angles, he too has one of the best assist percentages among bigs. Despite the increase in usage, Aldridge is taking care of the ball very well, as he often doesn’t account for his team’s turnovers compared to other bigs.

In helping to anchor the Spurs to the fourth best defense in the league without Leonard, both Aldridge and Gasol make sure not to put opponents on the foul line, as they rank very well in foul percentage compared to other bigs in the NBA. Gasol’s steal percentage is low, but that’s not what San Antonio is looking for him to do on defense. Compared to other bigs, Gasol does rebound opponent misses very well though.

These are just a few statistics to show where the Spurs rank and at what position amongst their peers. Some of the data will either increase or decrease once Parker and Leonard return to the team. For now, though, there were more positives than negatives for the Spurs in the select data that was analyzed. This speaks to the team’s record, as they sit third in the Western Conference despite missing two of their key playmakers and best defensive player.

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