The big problem with the Spurs' back up PG spot is that, on paper, every option should work just fine. Neal is the shooter that you can slot at PG but play off the ball while Manu runs things. With the Spurs going away from an almost exclusively pick and roll oriented offense Neal can also benefit from assisted looks off screens. De Colo's court vision and good handles make him a good playmaker. His chemistry with Tiago Splitter in the pick and roll gives the Spurs a good fall back option if the ball is forced off Manu's hands. Patty Mills' foot speed and energy allow him to put pressure on ball handlers and his shooting needs to be respected by opponents. In practice, however, we are seeing that there is a downside to each of these players. Neal is a drain on defense and when his shot isn't falling brings little to the table. De Colo is, at this point, basically useless off the ball. Mills' defense is more energetic than actually good and his shot selection is often...problematic. Pop has leaned towards Neal and it's easy to see why. Assuming Manu Ginobili is healthy in the postseason, he and Tony Parker with take most of the playmaking duties. One of them will likely be on the court at all times and taking the ball out of their hands would be a mistake. Neal is also a very turnover-averse player and, while he might struggle to get the ball up court against pressure, he can serve as a secondary creator from time to time. In reality, who plays back up PG is the least of the Spurs' concerns on offense. As long as there is movement off the ball and the floor is spaced well the Spurs will get quality looks. If things break down, Ginobili or Parker can create something. In that sense, the bigs are more important than the role playing guards. So that leaves defense. The three back up PGs have the worst on court defensive rating of all current Spurs. When Mills, De Colo or Neal are on the court, the Spurs allow over 100 points per 100 possessions. Mills has the best net rating of the three with a 6.6 and De Colo the worst at measly 0.4. Neal ranks in the middle at 4.8. The problem is, the Spurs seem to be much better when Neal is off the court. Their defensive rating gets to a fantastic 96.3 and they outscore their opponents by 12 points per 100 possessions. De Colo is similarly bad but Mills does a bit better, with the team still doing better when he is off the court but not as well as it does without the other two playing.
Who should back up Tony Parker?
Pounding The Rock | Feb 26