Researching for my series Tuesday Trade Talk, I tore apart roster after roster looking for a potential trade target for PATFO, and my profile was always the same: a defensive-minded, athletic big. If he could score a little, that was just like spreading homemade whipping cream over my tres leches. Well, speak of the devil, and he shall appear. My search ended with the big red banner at the top of the site heralding the potential arrival of the greatness of Aron Baynes. So the dear editor and I chatted a bit last night about what a deliriously happy thing it would be if the Spurs could get the Aussie Aron under contract. I will now set forth the reasons our fingers danced the late night hours away.
First, there's these obligatory big man vids:
And the dunk...
You gotta read this:
The good folks over at SBNation's Wazoo site did sterling work in an article about the Baynes buyout. Every Pounder in search of the goods on Baynes MUST check out that piece. Also, don't forget to scroll the comments. Wonderfully uplifting stuff in there. As JRW said, college fans can be brutal on their former stars, but Baynes gets nothing but love from his old Cougar rooters.
Weight: 260 lbs.
Birthplace: Gisborne, New Zealand
Baynes went undrafted out of Washington State in 2009 and promptly went to work in Europe, playing ball for four different clubs over the next four years. Since joining Olimpija in August 2012, he averaged 13.8 ppg and 9.8 rpg, accomplishing the extremely difficult task of being both an accomplished low post scorer and rebounder in the Euroleague. Last summer at the London Olympics, Aron was a very effective member of the Australian national team, averaging 7.5 ppg and 3.3 rpg in only 12 mpg, while shooting 65% from the field. Prior to 2012, Baynes developed his game while playing for Lietuvos Rytas, EWE Baskets Oldenburg, and Ikaros Kallitheas B.C.
Having similar numbers from his junior year of college through his latest European stint, Baynes averaged around 12-13 ppg at those levels. He shot around 60% from the field and 70% from the free throw line. Though I could find very few clips of his international play, the consensus on him seems to be that he is very solid around the basket, either facing or backing down the defender, and he can finish with either an explosive pivot for a dunk or a sweet little baby hook that he has had since college. He seems to have found a little mid-range jump shot in Europe as well. Finally, he's a 6'10 Caucasian that can rim-rattle like Jacob Marley with chains. So that helps in the areas of both mirroring Matt Bonner's stature AND cutting behind the defense and thrillingly converting a Tony/Patty/Nando lob. I have shivers.
Again, film is lacking. Defensive rebounding is, of course, key for Pop, and Aron Baynes seems to fit that bill just fine. His rebounding production easily trumps that of Splitter's against similar competition. Also, though he averages only around one block per game, he appears to have an appetite for a nice swat, and his numbers could see a jump in a system like San Antonio's, where defensive-minded big men have thrived in that category. At Washington State, he was a key cog in a very strong defensive unit, and his appetite for hard work paid dividends on that side of the ball.
At every level, Aron Baynes has exceeded expectations. Evidently he showed up at Wazoo overweight and turnover-prone. But it didn't matter who he was, what mattered was his plan. His work ethic, determination, and teachable spirit allowed him to transform him into a team leader on and off the court and earned him All-PAC-10 postseason honors his final year. I saw a video clip of him in college clapping it up at center court to rally his teammates. He became a fan favorite and the workhorse in the middle for the best basketball teams Washington State has ever fielded. He is, indeed, a Spurs kind of guy.
Nobody knows yet. Mum's been the word around Spurs Sports and Entertainment, and even Patty Mills seemed to have been asked to play his cards close to the vest when asked about his former Aussie teammate. A couple of options present themselves: he could be brought along slowly as he may not be considered NBA-ready yet, or he could be packaged along with other assets in a trade (Wilco and I see this as less likely). If he is kept, he should make DeJuan Blair expendable [Inasmuch as an out-of-the rotation player can become even more so. - Ed. note]. Blair is a player, and he will be a good piece on another team, but like Malik Rose before him, he has found himself in Gregg Popovich's doghouse. Whether the undersized big can't fill the roles that Pop asks of his bigs, offensively or defensively, I'm not sure. But the evidence seems to be that The Extraneous G doesn't think he can.
So, while Baynes' future in San Antonio is still vague, we contentedly deposit ourselves into the overstuffed armchair of past and present successes and restfully wait for the development and emergence of future glories.
We're on your schedule, Coach.