Spurs Bench Report Card - 3/29/13

USA TODAY Sports

The San Antonio Spurs are now in the midst of a gauntlet schedule of playoff-caliber teams. Tony Parker made his much anticipated return to the starting lineup but the Spurs still needed their bench to come back from the dead. The Bench Report Card examines whether or not the role players showed up to play.

In the previous seven days, the San Antonio Spurs have played two teams fighting for playoff spots and one quickly catching up to the top seeds. The result was a 2-1 advantage with an average 2.3 point differential. The so-called "Hell Week" didn't start with the Denver Nuggets. It started when the Utah Jazz strolled into the AT&T Center last Friday and nearly left with a much needed victory.

The Spurs bench has been playing better but not by much. I'm a bit more generous with the grades this week due to the level of competition so let's get to it!

Reminder - grading is divided into the three categories of offense, defense and hustle. These three elements makes up the overall score. The scores handed out are also relative to the player's role/position on the team, which is why the following scores are broken into three groups.

  • Offense is scored on direct/indirect production, efficiency, clutch shots, and game management.
  • Defense is scored on how the player handles their assignment, team defense, defensive rebounds, and of course their production on steals and blocks.
  • Hustle is based on the player's activity/energy on both ends, play on 50/50 balls, rebounding overall (including boxing out), and causing turnovers.

The 6th Man

The big gun off the bench. Ginobili is not likely to depart this category... in either direction.

Manu Ginobili

Offense

Defense

Hustle

Overall

Manu C B- A+ B






Manu Ginobili's offensive game finally showed signs of life against the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday. Manu hit 4-9 FG, including a game clinching three-pointer against the Nuggets with just 90 seconds left to play. In the first two games, Ginobili's offense was as sporadic as it had been all season. Manu was shooting 3-15 FG heading into Wednesday night's game against the Denver Nuggets and was 0.83 in his assist to turnover ratio. Even the easy stuff, like layups, were lipping out but Manu eventually managed to hit a big shot late against Utah. Ginobili did a great job moving the ball in Houston but his teammates just couldn't hit their shots.

Ginobili had a few crucial mental lapses in the Utah game, one time leaving Gordon Hayward all alone to hit a jumper from the wing and then later screaming by Marvin William's pump-fake which allowed a game-tying shot to send things into overtime. Outside of that, Ginobili's defensive game was improved from the previous week. Manu still tends to sag off his idle man too much but his defense on screens and his on-the-ball defense has been very beneficial to the team. Ginobili has also been aggressive on the boards and, as usual, the 50-50 balls.


The Regular Rotation

The regular rotation features the primary role players in the Spurs offense and roughly 13-20 minutes per game in some type of consistency.

Boris Diaw

Offense

Defense

Hustle

Overall

Diaw B- B- A- B






Boris had a bit of a let down in the Denver game but his performance against both Utah and Houston on both ends of the floor was more than solid. Diaw played physical interior defense against the bigger trio of Al Jefferson, Derrick Favors, and Paul Millsap and also handed out a pair of blocks in the Houston trip. However, the athleticism and the speed of the Nuggets put Diaw at a great disadvantage.

Diaw is more of a supportive cog in the Spurs offense rather than a scorer (4.4 FGA per game); Setting screens, spreading the interior defense, and moving the ball. Still, Diaw connected on 8 of 14 shots this past week and only turned it over once per every 19-plus game minutes. Boris operated two beautiful fast breaks in the Utah game (only one ended up in a basket though) and looked particularly aggressive in the Houston game.

Stephen Jackson

Offense

Defense

Hustle

Overall

Jax D+ B A- C+






Stephen Jackson was a void on offense again for the most part but the Captain did play solid defense. In his 8 minutes against the Jazz, Jackson was a real nuisance as a help defender and also came away with 3 steals. Jackson deserved more minutes against the Jazz but it is what it is. It doesn't show on the stat sheets but Jackson hustled on the boards and was vocal as ever on defense.

Stephen probably deserved more time against Denver as well but Jackson had a rough go of things in the first 6 minutes of the second quarter (his only playing time). Jackson tallied two shooting fouls, turned the ball over out of bounds, and missed his only shot attempt.

DeJuan Blair

Offense

Defense

Hustle

Overall

Blair C D- B+ C-






DeJuan Blair has only played a total of 11 minutes and 46 seconds since last Friday and that was roughly a split between the Utah and Denver game. Think about the size and talent of the front courts of both of those teams and you'll see why he only played limited minutes.

DeJuan did OK, despite the mismatch and the constant fouling the little-big man was essentially forced to do (Blair earned a technical for arguing a call as well). On offense, Blair managed 2 boards against both teams and hit 2 of his 3 shots. His defensive awareness, or lack thereof, did not help the size issue at all. Denver's JaVale McGree made quick work of the 6'7" Pitt Panther early in the second quarter with an easy alley-oop play.

Matt Bonner

Offense

Defense

Hustle

Overall

Bonner B+ B+ A B+






Matt Bonner only played a handful of minutes (9) in the fourth quarter against Utah but they were some of the Red Mamba's better played minutes all season. Bonner played strong defense, drew an offensive foul, and was both aggressive and effective on the offensive end. Bonner had a drive-and-kick to Kawhi Leonard for a three-pointer and then later hit a corner ball of his own. Matty boy also hit a crucial shot in the lane with just under 5 minutes remaining in the game. Bonner did get posterized on a fast break dunk by Derrick Favors but I credit Matt for at least hustling back and trying to draw the charge. Most players would have just stepped aside.

Bonner played only 2 minutes in the Houston game and grabbed a defensive board. Houston went 0-3 FG and had 2 turnovers in that span but Bonner had no real influence on that poor performance.

Cory Joseph

Offense

Defense

Hustle

Overall

Joseph B- C- B+ B-






From starter to scrap minutes. This is the thanks that Cory Joseph gets for help keeping the Spurs on course while Tony Parker rehabbed in his Hill Country mansion surrounded by French models, peeled grapes, and domesticated tigers (some of this may be pure assumption).

Regardless of whether he deserved more minutes against Utah (5), Joseph got off to a rough start against the Jazz. Cory lost sight of his man when the ball moved his way and got beat a few times later by the ball handler. Joseph eventually picked up the slack but Popovich pulled the plug, but not after ripping into him twice. The second-year point guard went 1-4 FG against the Jazz but he did get an easy layup to end a Jazz run early in the game.

Defensively, Joseph was hot and cold against the Denver Nuggets but he was able to make up for his shortcomings with 5 points, including a three-pointer to end the third quarter, and an assist in a total of 13 minutes. Joseph shut down Andre Miller at the end of the first quarter but Miller responded later in the game with 6 easy points.

Gary Neal

Offense

Defense

Hustle

Overall

Neal
N/A N/A N/A N/A






Gary Neal is still sidelined with tendinitis and plantar fasciitis in his left leg. Gary was suited up for play in Wednesday's game against the Nuggets so the sharp-shooter may be finally back out on the court today. The Spurs need to make a post-season decision on Gary soon though.

The Victory Cigars

These are the guys we demand to see more off because they rarely get to play and whose talent generally gets subjected to meme treatment and/or overblown to mythical proportions.

Nando De Colo

Offense

Defense

Hustle

Overall

Decolo C+ C A B






De Colo didn't see the floor against the Denver Nuggets and the guard only saw limited time against both Houston and Utah. Nando was a bit of a spark against Utah, providing 3 assists, 2 points, 1 rebound, and a steal in only 9 minutes. One of Nando's assist was a no-look pass to Bonner in the corner for a game-tying three with 7 minutes remaining.

Nando made some questionable decisions against Houston, including a turnover that would have earned him a permanent season benching if it wasn't for the team defense bailing him out. In the Rockets game, De Colo was embarrassed one-on-one by rookie Patrick Beverly. But Nando did end up with two steals, including a great take-away on a lazy in-bounds pass by Houston. Nando sneaked around Lin for the steal and passed it off for an easy Kawhi Leonard dunk.

Patty Mills

Offense

Defense

Hustle

Overall

Mills N/A N/A N/A N/A






Patty Mills appears to be the odd man out in the point guard rotation. Mills hasn't played in a game since the Minnesota fiasco on March 12th.

Aron Baynes

Offense

Defense

Hustle

Overall

Baynes N/A N/A N/A N/A






Aron Baynes was sent back down the Spurs D-League affiliate, the Austin Toros, on March 24th and hasn't seen NBA action since March 12th against the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Follow Aaron on Twitter at @DukeOfBexar for more Spurs news, notes, quotes, and opinions.

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