The Spurs crossed the halfway point after Friday's dominating win over Portland, and their record stands at 25-16, exactly on pace for 50 wins. Rather than chart their progress and sort through all their team stats to see where they rank in the league and go through the drudgery of a player-by-player grading system that I feel would be rather pointless given all the injuries they've had, I think it'd be better to put off that stuff for now, let the whole group get a few games under their collective belts and cover some other Spurs topics instead.
Such as, say, did you hear they waived a guy?
It's true. Austin Daye is no longer a Spur. Man, you all hated Austin Daye. Media colleagues of mine weren't shy about expressing their disgust with him in private conversation. Fans wrote me irate emails about him, as though I was R.C. Buford. Even mild-mannered JRW, who hardly ever has an unkind word to say about anybody, would rage about poor Daye. An anonymous scout even fired shots at him, telling Mike Monroe of the San Antonio-Express News that "he's soft, physically and mentally."
Daye was the one guy on the roster who seemed a poor fit for the Spurs, from a toughness standpoint. In terms of tongue-lashings-per-minute from Pop, he was probably the team leader, even ahead of Danny Green and Marco Belinelli. The kiss of death, officially, came Friday night, when he was inactive rather than rookie Kyle Anderson, with the Spurs having 14 healthy bodies for once and only allowed to dress 13.
It's hard to argue that Daye didn't deserve being essentially "fired" from the Spurs. His primary role was to be a shooter and he had the worst field goal percentage on the club at .351 (and only .339 from downtown), even worse than Anderson's .358. And Anderson started like 1-for-27 or something. Daye, a supposed offensive specialist, had the worst offensive rating on the team at 98.0. Anderson, the next-closest Spur, checks in a 102.2. Defensively, his rating of 101.1 ranked tenth on the club, and the five guys below him are probably the five you'd guess. (They were certainly the five I guessed, but I'm much smarter about basketball than you are.)
Daye was just above Anderson in net rating (-3.1) and dead last on the team in PER (7.2, yuck), offensive win shares (-0.5), total win shares (-0.1), win shares per 48 minutes (-0.023), offensive box plus/minus (-4.9), total box plus/minus (-6.1), and value over replacement player (-0.5), all according to basketball-reference.com.
His biggest sin, however, was probably ranking last on the team in assists at 0.3 per game, even though he was getting more minutes than Jeff Ayres. In his second-to-last outing as a Spur, at Washington, he took the same number of shots (6) as the passes he made, in 7:12 of playing time, the kind of rate that would make Kobe Bryant blush. Daye was just a tick below Patty Mills when it came to field goal attempts per 36 minutes, averaging 15.3 attempts to Mills' team-leading 15.4. His usage rate of 22.5 percent was fifth on the team, below only "the Big Four."
You can get away with a lot of things as a Spur. You can be a poor defender or a poor rebounder, a poor interview (encouraged, actually) or even a poor dresser, but the one thing you absolutely cannot do while playing for Pop is refuse to make the next pass, turning a so-so look into a good one and a good one into a great one. Daye was too chuckeriffic with the ball and not nearly accurate enough or skillful in other areas to compensate for that. He was a one-trick pony that wasn't even at all good with that one trick, and now he's gone, a gamble that didn't pay off for the Spurs any more than it did for Memphis, Detroit or Toronto before them. Daye probably needs to go overseas to make something of his basketballing career.
Of all the stats that made him look terrible, the one that intrigued me the most was VORP, because indeed it does appear as the Spurs are literally going to sign a replacement player to fill Daye's spot in the person of JaMychal Green from their D-League affiliate in Austin, per Woj.
San Antoino is waiving Austin Daye, clearing the way to sign JaMychal Green to a 10-day contract, league source tells Yahoo.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) January 17, 2015
[Update: They signed Green to a 10-day contract.]
Green was the star of the team's summer league team in Las Vegas and showed promise in the preseason as well, making 11-of-15 shots and hitting 10-of-14 free throws in 51 minutes of playing time stretching over six games. He also collected 16 rebounds, two assists, three steals, two blocks, three turnovers and five fouls in that time.
Dude's been putting up video game numbers in the D-League, leading Austin with 23,0 points (on .585 shooting) and 10.5 rebounds and adding 2.4 assists, 1.6 blocks and 1.1 steals per game, with a ridiculous 27.2 PER. A 24-year-old who was first-team SEC at Alabama as a senior, Green is a bit undersized to play the four in the NBA at 6'8" and 235 pounds, but he showed a knack for going after offensive boards in the preseason, had a decent stroke from mid-range and the bounce to know what to do with the business end of an alley-oop. I remember being particularly impressed with his passing, he knew enough about the Spurs system to get it to the corner when defenders converged on him. Defensively I was far less impressed. He was foul prone and lost on the pick-and-roll.
The Spurs will reportedly sign Green to a 10-day contract and who knows if he'll play at all or if he'll just be the guy wearing a suit. They could just be keeping that 15th roster spot warm, waiting for some vet to fill it via a trade or signing. Ray Allen is still out there, you know, as stomach-turning as that sounds. Green's skills seem to overlap with Ayres' so you wonder about the fit, and my guess is that if he ever wants to stick long-term with the Spurs, he'll have to develop a reliable corner three in a hurry because in the NBA he's more of a three than a four, despite his skill-set. He's made 3-of-10 from downtown this season with Austin. Jesus has Green's D-League shot chart in his superb-as-always write-up..
Anyway, godspeed Austin Daye and welcome aboard JaMychal Green. For many Spurs fans this move should've been made months ago.