The Day Off: After Victory Over Rockets

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Saturday the San Antonio Spurs picked up their 13th win of the season with a narrow victory over the Houston Rockets.

With 32% of the Spurs’ season completed, let’s look at two topics we’ll explore in this Sunday edition of the Day Off:

  • Defense at the 5
  • Devin Vassell Collecting Steals

Defense at the 5

LaMarcus Aldridge missed his second game in a row Saturday due to a hip injury. With Aldridge out, Jakob Poeltl and Drew Eubanks played the majority of the minutes at the 5 for the Spurs in the game against Houston.

Let’s take a look at some of the numbers for the three players this season defensively. 

PlayerMinutesDefensive FG%Contested Shots per 36 minsBlocks per 36 minsFouls Per 36 minsDefensive Rebounds per 36 minsHalfcourt defense (CTG)
Aldridge48049.4%13.91.224.7+13.4 pp/100
Poeltl48638.3%19.62.13.36.1-9.6 pp/100
Eubanks9242%164.33.57.80 pp/100

As you can see from multiple defensive categories, Poeltl and Eubanks are ahead of Aldridge in almost every category except fouls per 36 minutes.

Now let’s look at two important areas where the Spurs struggle on defense – opponents attacking the rim and opponent three point shooting. The data comes from CleaningTheGlass.com.

PlayerOpp Rim FrequencyOpp Rim AccuracyOpp 3PT FrequencyOpp 3PT Accuracy
Aldridge+5%+10.5%-5%+1.4%
Poeltl-2.7% -10.9%+2.9%-2.1%
Eubanks-5%-4.1%+3.4%+3.3%

With some context, it’s important to keep in mind that many of Aldridge’s minutes come against starters on the opposing teams while Poeltl and Eubanks’ minutes are against the second units of the opposing teams. 

In the last two games with Aldridge out, the Spurs played better than league average defense against the Timberwolves and Rockets. This gives a small sample size of what extended minutes for Poeltl and Eubanks could look like against starting units defensively.

Devin Vassell Collecting Steals

In the win over Houston, Spurs rookie Devin Vassell collected 3 steals. Among rotation players on the Spurs, Vassell continues to lead the team in deflections (4) and steals (2.5) per 36 minutes.

According to CleaningTheGlass.com, Vassell is in the 98th percentile among wing players in steal percentage where he’s accounting for 3% of the team’s steals.

Only Matisse Thybulle and Jimmy Butler are ahead of Vassell in steal percentage among wing players. 

Data collected from NBA.com/stats and CleaningTheGlass.com.

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