The prologue was in Part 1, so let's just get down to it here...
Manu Ginobili: A-
68 G, 22.8 MPG, 12.3 PTS, .469/.349/.851, 3.0 Rebs, 4.3 Ast, 1.0 Stl, 0.3 Blk, 2.0 TOs, +6.2 per game, 112.4 ORtg, 99.5 DRtg, .176 WS/48, 20.0 PER, 91 YTS Points
Pleasant surprises: Obviously with Ginobili the major surprise is that he finished the season healthy, not suffering a major ding after the All-Star break (/knock on a forest). Gino attacked the basket more this season than last, with 29.8 percent of his attempts at the rim compared to 27.6 percent in 2012-13 and 13.4 percent from 3-10 feet compared to 11.9 last season. He also converted those attempts at far better rates, 71.7 percent at the rim and 47.6 on those floaters, compared to 65.1 percent and 34.4 percent last year. Playing with better bench players certainly gave him more freedom to operate, but I think health was the main thing in that regard. Gino led the league in net rating, as opposed to last season when he was fifth on his own team.
Things that made me sad: There were still the two hamstring tweaks as opposed to three, which were major bummers, and since he's returned from the last one Gino's been checked by the rim a couple times on dunk attempts, which is disheartening. He also pretty much quit rebounding, to preserve his body. The three-point stroke is wonky, to the point where I feel more confident in almost anyone else on the team taking them. Hasn't played well against Miami or OKC so far this season, in case you didn't think I noticed. I'm trying to contain my outrage that he's getting screwed out of the 6MOY.
Stat you didn't know: Ginobili's shooting percentage of 46.9 is the third-best of his career. Not bad for a 36-year-old shooting guard who everyone declared finished last June. You'll forgive me if I gloat about getting this prediction right. It happens so rarely.
Conclusion: The regular season success is well and good, but no Spur will face more postseason scrutiny than Ginobili. It's on him to keep the bench productive, even though they may be going against opposing starters. He'll have to stay aggressive going to the rim because people will play him to pass, looking for live turnovers. Considering the circumstances, his regular season was as successful and redemptive as we could've possibly hoped for. He just has to carry it through.
Danny Green: B
68 G, 24.3 MPG, 9.1 PTS, .432/.415/.794, 3.4 Rebs, 1.5 Ast, 1.0 Stl, 0.9 Blk, 1.1 TOs, +4.9 per game, 106.2 ORtg, 96.4 DRtg, .122 WS/48, 13.9 PER, 57 YTS Points
Pleasant surprises: Green was a bit lost amid all the attention Leonard received -rightly so-for his post-All-Star break numbers, but he too saw a major spike upward in his shooting numbers, from 40.6 to 46.5 percent overall and from 38.1 percent to 45.8 percent from three. Also, for what it's worth, his defensive rating was second on the club, behind only Splitter, and ahead of the more-renowned Leonard. Green's overall shooting and scoring numbers were down a tick from last season but the rest of his stats stayed consistent. With opposing teams clamping down on his corner looks, Green took the initiative to shoot more from the wings and the top of the key and has been taking PU3ITs like crazy the last couple months, a shot that sounds like an awful idea, but one that he hits at a pretty good rate.
Things that made me sad: As a shooter/scorer Green seems to have hit a plateau in his development. We think of him as a guy who's comfortable shooting the midrange shot, but that hasn't been the case at all, as he shot 21.9 percent from 10-16 feet and 32.7 percent from 16 feet to the three-point line. His game looks to suffer more than anybody's when quick, lengthy defenders run him off of shots and make him put the ball on the floor. Also concerning was Verde's late-season foot injury, which Pop feared was Plantar Fasciitis. There was a game at Dallas where he played like 17 minutes and looked like he could barely jog up and down the floor and I was certain Pop was gonna sit him the next night, and instead he scored a season-high 33 points against Phoenix, showing definitive proof, if you hadn't come to that conclusion already, that I have no idea what I'm talking about ever.
Stat you didn't know: My lying eyes told me that Green made more of an effort, however unsuccessfully, to diversify his shot selection and to go for more mid-range shots and floaters. Instead, it was he, not Bonner, who led the team in percentage of shots from the three-point line, as 63 percent of Green's attempts were from downtown. It was 62.3 percent last year. He's Bruce Bowen, reincarnated, basically.
Conclusion: By all accounts Pop has had difficulty forgiving Green for his brain fart in Game 6 last season, where he failed to get back to LeBron after he missed his initial three-point attempt with 23 seconds to go. Reportedly Pop has ridden Green hard, and he did bench him at one point early in the season in favor of Belinelli. As good as Green and the starters as a unit have been since the All-Star break, his leash figures to be short in the postseason with Ginobili needing to get his minutes up and Belinelli champing at the bit as well. Unless Pop plays small, there will be someone feeling shortchanged. You'd think Green's defense would give him the benefit of the doubt over Belinelli, but you never know with Pop.
Cory Joseph: B-
68 G, 13.8 MPG, 5.0 PTS, .475/.316/.823, 1.6 Rebs, 1.7 Ast, 0.5 Stl, 0.2 Blk, 0.6 TOs, +0.0 per game, 106.2 ORtg, 104.5 DRtg, .148 WS/48, 14.7 PER, 21 YTS Points
Pleasant Surprises: Talk about thankless jobs. Joseph, through no fault of his own, either had to serve as an understudy caretaker for the starters when Parker was out, dribbling the ball up the floor and then pretty much staying out of the way, or was the one trying to wade through the chaos of garbage time playing with scrubs. He rarely got to play those precious second-unit minutes where his talent dictates. Still, he persevered, even starting five games at the two because no one else was available, and didn't embarrass himself. Joseph shot 47.5 percent and averaged 13.2 points and 4.4 assists per 36 minutes. He's not an ideal playmaker, but he can play. He's more than proven that he belongs.
Things that made me sad: Those minutes Joseph had to play at the two. Man, that was rough. Some of those garbage time fourth quarters were rough too, but I was usually drunk by then.
Stat you didn't know: I don't feel that 104.5 defensive rating is representative of Joseph's true ability because he plays with so many scrubs. Using NBAWowy.com, I eliminated all of his minutes except for the ones with the top nine guys in the rotation, and it came out to a 91.8 defensive rating over 282 minutes. Think on that the next time Reggie Jackson goes off against the Spurs.
Conclusion: As well as Mills has played, it's not out of the realm of possibility for him to be benched against Houston or OKC if their backup points keep exploiting his defense. Joseph's three is a work in progress, but he's quietly refined his long two to the point where it's the second-most accurate on the team, 47.8 percent from 16-23 feet, behind only Leonard's 50.5 percent.
Kawhi Leonard: A
66 G, 29.1 MPG, 12.8 PTS, .445/.429/.750, 6.2 Rebs, 2.0 Ast, 1.7 Stl, 0.8 Blk, 1.2 TOs, +5.7 per game, 107.3 ORtg, 97.7 DRtg, .193 WS/48, 19.4 PER, 90 YTS Points
Pleasant Surprises: Leonard was having a nice enough season prior to breaking his hand in the third meeting with OKC. He was showing subtle but real gains as a passer and defender, and was emerging from a shooting slump from the three-point line. When he returned from the injury after the All-Star break though, he was Something Other entirely. His net rating jumped from 6.4 to 14.6, his assists from 1.8 to 2.4, his blocks from 0.5 to 1.2, his plus-minus from 3.0 per game to 10.0 and his three-point shooting from 32.7 percent to 44.4. As a consequence his overall PER shot to 19.4, which is basically All-Star level (not too shabby for a guy whose best attribute, defense, isn't even covered by that metric.)
Things that made me sad: I wasn't sad but rather infuriated a couple times Leonard was benched in favor of Belinelli down the stretch of games in close losses early on the year, but that silliness ended after the All-Star break. I was bummed that he only played three legit quarters against the Thunder over their past three meetings though.
Stat you didn't know: Leonard has developed to the point where he's gone from a guy with no jumper in college to the best mid-range shooter on the Spurs, 50.5 percent from 16-23 feet. His 46.8 mark from 10-16 feet was second only to Belinelli on the team. Only 30 percent of Kawhi's attempts come at the rim, about the same rate as Ginobili's, despite his team-leading 59 dunks.
Conclusion: I don't buy the narrative that he came out tentative to begin the season. He was shooting more than last year and using more possessions, but that aggressiveness shot up to a whole other level from February on. By WS/48 and Wins Produced Leonard had the best season of any Spur and it's undeniable he was their best player after the break. More than any other factor, his ascension makes the Spurs the title favorite, and the scary thing for the rest of the league is that he's only 22.
Patty Mills: A-
81 G, 18.9 MPG, 10.2 PTS, .464/.425/.890, 2.1 Rebs, 1.8 Ast, 0.8 Stl, 0.1 Blk, 0.8 TOs, +4.2 per game, 109.1 ORtg, 98.3 DRtg, .175 WS/48, 18.7 PER, 41 YTS Points
Pleasant Surprises: Literally everything about Mills' game was a pleasant surprise, from his endless reserve of energy over an 82-game season, to his shooting numbers staying consistent despite that Neal-esque shot selection, to his rugged rebounding. It's true his per-game numbers were a bit better two seasons ago, in a 16-game sample size, but they were skewed by a couple of monster performances at the end of the season when Pop was resting everyone and just unleashed "The Tasmanian Devil" on Suns and Warriors teams already in vacation mode. To be able to do it over a full season against committed opponents is obviously more meaningful and impressive.
Things that made me sad: I'm preemptively sad for Mills because I know at some point these playoffs he'll remind me a bit too much of Neal and I'm gonna snap on him in some recap. So look forward to that. Also, I'm gonna miss him because I think he's priced himself out of the Spurs budget with his play.
Stat you didn't know: Mills' 19.5 points per 36 minutes tied Ginobili for second on the team behind Parker's 20.4. Meanwhile, he led the team with 135 threes. How about that? The Spurs' ninth man led them in threes. Another indicator of their injury woes.
Conclusion: Mills may well shoot the Spurs out of a game over the next couple of games, but I think he's going to be the difference in a couple of wins as well. Defenses just can't game plan against the kind of shots he gets for himself, because they're exactly the kind of shots you want to give up. When they go in, the Spurs are nearly impossible to beat. He's underrated in other facets of the game as well. He may well be marginalized as the playoffs go along, especially if Parker's health holds up, but like Belinelli, he can buy himself time on the floor by being hot on a given night.
Tony Parker: C+
68 G, 29.4 MPG, 16.7 PTS, .499/.373/.811, 2.3 Rebs, 5.7 Ast, 0.5 Stl, 0.1 Blk, 2.2 TOs, +4.0 per game, 107.5 ORtg, 100.8 DRtg, .141 WS/48, 18.9 PER, 115 YTS Points
Pleasant Surprises: Considering his overall numbers I'm pleasantly surprised anytime Parker has a dominant, breakout game and gets to the rim at will against a particular foe. The fatigue of last year and the summer's Eurobasket tournament took a lot out of him and Parker spent most of the season in cruise control, patiently biding his time for the playoffs. He's got issues with his back and his Achilles, so being able to get through in one piece -unlike last year's Finals-would qualify as a surprise indeed.
Things that made me sad: His numbers fell off a cliff. Parker averaged four fewer points and two fewer assists per game than last year, in 3.5 fewer minutes. His PER dropped 4.1 points. That Parker is getting consideration on some All-NBA third teams as the token Spur ahead of Duncan is saddening, considering how inconsistent he was and how few minutes he played, relatively speaking.
Stat you didn't know: Despite his ailments Parker attacked the basket as often as last season, with 33 percent of his attempts at the rim and 23 percent in that 3-10 feet "teardrop" range. Last year 56.4 percent of his attempts were from inside of 10 feet. This season it's 55.8, so essentially the same level.
Conclusion: If Parker is to have some kind of magical postseason run, the Spurs picked the perfect warm-up opponent in the Mavericks, with Jose Calderon hopeless to stop him and no serious rim challenger around. If somehow Portland gets by Houston, he'll get to avoid Patrick Beverley too, though he(nor Dwight Howard) didn't look to be much of an obstacle for Parker last Monday. Parker relied on his teammates to carry him throughout the regular season but now it's his turn to hold up his end of the bargain.
Tiago Splitter: C+
59 G, 21.5 MPG, 8.2 PTS, .523/.000/.699, 6.2 Rebs, 1.5 Ast, 0.5 Stl, 0.5 Blk, 1.3 TOs, +4.5 per game, 105.0 ORtg, 94.5 DRtg, .163 WS/48, 16.5 PER, 42 YTS Points
Pleasant Surprises: Aside from a small uptick in rebounding per 36 minutes and his defensive efficiency even without Duncan, there wasn't a whole lot to be excited about from Splitter. He just didn't improve in many areas and couldn't stay healthy either.
Things that made me sad: Opponents focused more on taking the pick-and-roll away from Splitter and that's his bread-and-butter. Instead, he had to scrounge for more buckets around the rim, and that proved mighty problematic. He still hasn't shown the requisite toughness to go up strong consistently and it appears he never will.
Stat you didn't know: Splitter led the league in defensive rating for anyone who averaged as many minutes as he does. (Only Danny Granger did better among guys who played over 20 minutes.) He also hit 5-of-8 shots from 16-23 feet, which is obviously a micro sample.
Conclusion: I thought for certain with Duncan getting another year older that Splitter's numbers would continue rising, but instead they dipped across the board while Diaw benefitted instead. Of particular note is that he played 3.2 fewer minutes a night. As a rim protector though, Splitter was still as good as it gets, with or without Duncan, and even though he doesn't block many shots, he does the verticality thing as well as Roy Hibbert. Defense isn't the issue, it's his softness on the other end of the floor that takes him out of games. If Splitter can't finish around the rim or can't get calls when he gets mugged or stripped, Pop will have little choice.