The San Antonio Spurs fell to 2-3 in the early season after a close loss to the Los Angeles Lakers Friday. Let’s jump right into the Day Off and topics to be explored:
- Murray and Walker IV’s Finishing at the Rim
- Johnson Answers with 3s
- The Quintet of Drivers
- An Example of Limited Data – Opponent Offensive Rebounds
Murray and Walker IV’s Finishing at the Rim
Every topic to be discussed should be prefaced with ‘keep in mind it’s a small sample size of five games,’ but so far, through those five games, Dejounte Murray and Lonnie Walker IV’s finishing near the rim has been quite accurate.
Murray has made 81% of his 21 attempts in the restricted area (area closest to the basket) and Walker IV 67% of his 18 attempts in the restricted area.
These aren’t all just wide open layups or dunks only, some of the makes Murray and Walker IV are making are in the halfcourt by being crafty going by and finishing against defenders.
In terms of attempts, Johnson is the team leader with 26 attempts, followed by DeRozan with 24, Murray 21, and Walker IV 18 attempts in the restricted area.
As we’ll note in a topic below, the Spurs bringing back Derrick White will bring another player who takes a good chunk of shots near the restricted area.
Johnson Answers with 3s
Entering Friday’s game against the Lakers, I wrote about how defenses were starting to back off and anticipate Johnson’s drives to the basket, and instead, they were daring him to shoot from outside, where 100% of his 3-point attempts were being taken wide open.
Friday Johnson saw the Lakers were leaving him open from three and he answered with five made 3s on nine attempts to finish off a new career high 26 points.
After his 3-point barrage Friday, Johnson is shooting 43% from outside and 81% of his 3s are being left wide open.
Johnson remarked postgame how playing against one of the better defensive teams in the Lakers taught him to really work on his decision making when putting the ball on the floor.
“Making that extra pass off the dribble,” said Johnson of one of his biggest takeaways playing against the Lakers in two straight games. “Making quick decisions because a team like the Lakers, their defense moves so fast. They adjust quick and they close gaps really quick and so, just making quick decisions.”
When Johnson reads a game and understands defenses are closing those driving lanes and instead giving him wide open 3s, he’ll have to answer in similar way like he did Friday.
The Quintet of Drivers
Though it was just one game and he’ll miss Sunday’s game against Utah, Derrick White showed that with him back in the lineup, the Spurs will have 5 players who can consistently put the ball on the floor and drive inside with White, DeRozan, Murray, Johnson, and Walker IV.
The Spurs are an early team that doesn’t get to the line at a top-10 free throw rate, with mainly DeRozan and Johnson supplying the majority of their free throw attempts. But as White showed Friday and like he was able to do in the bubble, he can give the Spurs a 3rd player who is able to get to the free throw line often.
DeRozan has seen an increase in his 3-point attempts and he said part of that is having multiple teammates on his side who can drive in and kick out to him.
An Example of Limited Data – Opponent Offensive Rebounds
Before Friday’s game against the Lakers, the Spurs were first in the league in opponent offensive rebound percentage. Friday after the Lakers grabbed 16 offensive rebounds, what did that do to the Spurs’ ranking? Moved them from 1st to 13th in opponent offensive rebound percentage. It was an example of how quickly rankings in different stat categories can change when only limited data is available.
It’ll take a 20 game sample size to see if the Spurs are closer to a top-5 team in opponent offensive rebounding, or league average like the data currently shows.
While the Spurs only allow 10 offensive rebounds to the opponent on average, Friday showed that could be an area of concern in close games, where the Lakers collected 5 of their 11 offensive boards in the fourth quarter.
All stats from NBA.com/stats