These Player Pairs statistics take a look at how the Spurs perform when various possible tandems are on the court at the same time. The numbers in the cells correspond to the tandem comprised of the name in the column and the name in the row. For example, as you can see below, the Spurs outscore their opponents by 12.5 points per 100 possessions when Duncan is on the court with Parker.
The cells are color coded based on the following rules:
Light Green - The player in the column improved the impact of the player in the row.
Dark Green - The player in the column improved the impact of the player in the row by a significant* amount.
Light Red - The player in the column worsened the impact of the player in the row.
Dark Red - The player in the column worsened the impact of the player in the row by a significant* amount.
Light Blue - The player's impact when he's on the court under any circumstance.
Dark Blue - The tandem hasn't yet accumulated enough minutes together.
* - 25% in the first chart, 2.5% in the two subsequent charts
-Tim Duncanís numbers are extremely solid across the board. Heís second on the team in differential (+10.7) and his offensive numbers are particularly great. Duncan makes everyone better on offense other than Leonard -- and thatís only a slight drop. Defensively, at first glance his numbers may look mildly disappointing. However, itís important to note how well Duncan is defensively when paired with Parker. Thatís important because: 1) Duncan will be on the court almost exclusively with Parker when it matters most 2) Duncanís weakness defensively is defending the pick-and-roll and while Parker is good to very good at defending pick-and-rolls, the backup point guards are either bad or really bad at it.
-Tony Parkerís numbers are also very strong. Third best differential (+10.6) -- only a shade behind Duncan. His defensive numbers are stout, especially when paired with the players he plays with most. Offensively, I donít see anything to worry about. Overall, Parkerís numbers endorse what our eyes are telling us in that heís having a great season.
-Toping the differential, like usual, is Manu Ginobili (+12.4). Unfortunately, Iím actually a little worried about what I see when taking a closer look. His defensive number is great and the best on the team Ö but it also looks fluky. His numbers with some of the bench players are unsustainably low (most notably Bonner, Blair and Mills). As the season progresses, Ginobiliís defensive number is very likely going to creep up toward 100 (last year, for example, he was north of 105). The reason why he usually dominates the player pairings is because his offensive numbers are so good. This year, heís only fifth on the team. Considering Ginobili topped the entire NBA last season at 120.7, dropping more than ten points is somewhat worrisome. Additionally, Parker and Splitter being better on offense without him is just Ö strange. Letís hope Ginobiliís offensive numbers look better as the season progresses. Six weeks ago (the last time I did player pairs) Ginobili was the best offensively so perhaps this is just a midseason swoon.
-Tiago Splitter has the fourth best differential (+10.4) and a very green differential chart. Thatís another sign that the Brazilian is having just a damn great season. Heís played plenty with the starters and plenty with the bench, so itís safe to say there isnít much luck involved -- he's just at the top of his game.
-The fact that Splitter and Duncan are doing so well together almost brings a tear to my eye. Theyíre great offensively together and absolutely devastating defensively. Add in the fact that they play together almost exclusively against the other teamís starters -- and that pairing may be the brightest spot of the entire season thus far.
-On the other end of the spectrum, Splitter with Diaw just doesnít seem to be working. In theory, it should work. In the real world, it doesnít. Diaw is the only player who does worse with Splitter on the court. Itís a bad defensive pairing, which is somewhat predictable based on observations, but the fact that itís also subpar offensively makes me wonder if itís ever going to work.
-Speaking of Boris Diaw, he sure does have a lot of red. Offensively, he does well as long as he has a member of the Big 3 on the court with him. If he doesnít, well, it gets ugly fast. Defense is the bigger concern. These numbers say heís the worst defensive big on the team -- and itís not even very close. Everyone but Green is worse defensively with him on the court, and even Green is just barely better. If we broke it down further, Iíd bet the issue is a lack of defensive rebounding when Diaw is on the court. Whatever it is, the Frenchman needs to figure it out because he hasnít gotten the job done in the first half of the season Ö really on either end.
-As long as Iím speaking negatively, letís bring in Danny Green. Wow. Iíve called him out at times for having horrific defensive games (Kobe Bryantís first game against him comes to mind, as does his last outing against Jared Dudley). But I find it surprising that he grades out as the absolute worst defender on the team. Considering that he plays most of his minutes next to four above average defenders in Duncan, Splitter, Leonard and Parker, thatís just not acceptable. At all. Last year, he had great defensive numbers in the regular season and the playoffs -- so Iím not sure what happening. Offensively, Green is fine; maybe even better than expected given his streakiness.
-Thinking more about Greenís D numbers, one could point to Ginobiliís fluky great D numbers and say Greenís D could just be fluky in the other direction. I donít really buy that though because heís even dragging down the teamís best defenders and some of his numbers are putrid. The only sliver of light I see is his number next to Leonard (98.3). We all saw how horrible Green was when he was shoehorned into playing small forward. Maybe he just really, really needs a strong defensive small forward next to him in order to hide his deficiencies. Whatever the issue, we should keep an eye on it going forward.
-Iím excited about Kawhi Leonardís numbers for the most part. Defensively, heís been a beast -- especially next to Duncan and Parker. And the best part of that is that itís mostly coming against starters. Itís unusual for young players to put up this great of defensive numbers Ö so this bodes well for his future. As for his offense, itís a mixed bag. For whatever reason, he dominates when playing with bench players. His dragging down of the Big 3 is a troubling but it should correct itself when he finds his offensive niche.
-One number that I canít help to laugh at is the pairing of Leonard and Ginobili. Thereís just no way that offensive number (104.1) is going to stay so low. Those two players fit together too well for it not to get much better. In fact, last season Leonard and Ginobiliís offensive number was 124.1 -- exactly 20 points higher and the second best mark on the entire team last year. Just a matter of time Ö
-Another number that stands out is Leonard with Diaw. This pairing is by far Diawís best defensive number, which fits with the hypothesis that Diawís lack of rebounding hurts his D -- but when heís played with Leonard, an elite defensive rebounder for a small forward, that weakness is mitigated.
-Truthfully, Iím amazed at Stephen Jacksonís numbers. Subjectively, it looks like heís struggling. Apparently, though, his struggles arenít hurting the team. On the contrary, Jackson has the fifth highest differential (+9.2). Offensively, he does really damn well with everyone whoís not deep on the bench. His defense is all over the map pairings-wise but his overall defensive number (101.3) is fine for a player who still looks to be working his way back into shape. If Jackson can straighten out his shooting and improve his D a bit, these numbers say he could be quite a force Ö and thatís really surprising since six weeks ago his differential was hovering around zero.
-The next highest differential belongs to Matt Bonner. While +8.8 is solid for most players, this is The King of the Plus/Minus we are talking about. Annually, Bonner has always been near the very top -- both on the Spurs and in the league. To be sixth on his own team is underwhelming for his standards. Then again, if we want to view it through rose colored glasses (and, hey, why not?), we can point out that Bonnerís best numbers are when heís playing next to the Big 3 and Splitter. Perhaps heís still The King and the only thing that has changed is heís playing more garbage minutes with the deep bench. I havenít investigated that premise but it seems to fit.
-Bonner with Ginobili is another pairing that will improve on offense. Last season, that duo was the best offensive pairing in the whole league at 128.4 -- a simply mind-boggling stat that is probably one of the best showings ever. This year, they are at a pedestrian 104. While Bonner and Ginobili wonít reach last seasonís mark, thereís no way itís going to stay this low.
(-Considering that Iíve now pointed out two Ginobili pairings that are bound to improve offensively, Iím starting to think that Ginobiliís numbers are just overall fluky for whatever mystical reasons. Going forward, Iíd bet his defensive numbers come back to earth but that his offensive numbers get much better.)
-The seventh best differential on the team belongs to Patrick Mills at +7.2. That number is driven by the fact that the Spurs have been outstanding when Mills is paired with either Parker or Ginobili. And since the sample size is nearly 190 minutes, itís getting more and more difficult to overlook. If one were to pick a backup point guard just looking at these numbers, the obvious choice would be Mills. He has been great with Ginobili and Jackson, the key perimeter plays off the bench. And while his defense has been iffy (when, that is, heís not playing with Ginobili or Jackson), his offense is the best of any guard on the team outside of Parker. Itís probably worth giving Mills more minutes to see if these trends hold up.
-DeJuan Blair actually appears to have some value Ö as long as you keep him away from the starting lineup. Play him with Ginobili against the opposing bench and he should do okay. Defensively, heís actually been pretty darn good. Is that legit or a statistical anomaly? Itís probably been a little bit of both. While Blair has been more attentive on D this season, I find it hard to believe that Blair with Bonner is suddenly a strong defensive pairing. Considering that Blair is usually horrible when it comes to these pairings, itís good to see that he has improved a bit. Perhaps thatís due to him playing more against bench players rather than starters this year, which makes sense.
-Coming in second to last in differential is Gary Neal at +5.3. Heís third worst offensively and fourth worst defensively, so itís difficult to find a silver lining here. The fact the Big 3 each struggles to deal with Nealís presence on the court is damning. Subjectively, I think heís good depth to have around. In actuality, these numbers say the Spurs wouldnít miss him if they opt to trade him.
-Last but maybe not least is Nando De Colo. Itís important to note that rookies universally struggle when looking at their production in this way, especially in the first half of their rookie season. Leonard, for example, had the worst numbers on the team at this time last year. Anthony Davis, the No. 1 pick of the 2012 NBA Draft, is sitting at -8.1 Ö so, yeah, take De Coloís +1.4 with a grain of salt. Through the carnage, itís notable that De Colo has been fine when paired with Ginobili. That gives some hope that he may yet be the answer at backup PG.