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Study Hall: New-Look Spurs Fall Short in OKC

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The Spurs failed to capitalize on Kawhi Leonard's first career 30 point game, as they could not connect from deep in a season-opening loss to the Thunder

Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Spurs 106, Thunder 112 - Oct 28, '15

The Spurs looked pretty solid in their season opener against the Thunder, but couldn't quite pull out the win as they struggled to hit from deep and Kawhi Leonard's one-man show was not enough to top the Westbrook-led Thunder.

Kawhi Leonard dominated Kevin Durant on both ends of the floor, holding the former MVP to just 22 points on 6-19 from the field while racking up 32 points on the other end on 13/22 shooting, along with 8 boards, 2 blocks and 3 steals.  Durant looked miserable out there and it's hard to blame him.  This definitely wasn't the triumphant return from foot troubles he was probably hoping for.  I can't say enough about just how aggressive and effective Leonard was.  He may be the only player alive capable of hounding Kevin Durant on one end while putting up those kind of numbers on the other.  The only (faint) criticism I can muster is a lack of assists, as it would be great to see Kawhi initiating offense for his teammates more, especially when leading the second unit.

Boris Diaw also had a fantastic start to the season, playing assertively and efficiently on offense with 9 points on 4-5 shooting, and playing lock-down defense (who knew?) on the other end, matching Kawhi's stock tally with 3 blocks and 2 steals, all in just 20 minutes of play.

Manu Ginobili also looked spry and effective, contributing 11 points, 7 assists and 2 steals of his own.  Hopefully an offseason of rest and strength training can lead a more durable Manu this year.  Also, people seem to forget when talking about Manu's decline in 2014-2015 that he had to carry the team for most of December when the Spurs were riddled by injuries.  During that brutal month Manu's averaged 27.3 minutes/game and really wore himself thin struggling to keep the Spurs from dropping lower in the standings.  Hopefully the Spurs can avoid the injury bug this year (so far so good!) and that won't happen again.

LaMarcus Aldridge had a quiet, underwhelming start to his Spurs tenure, going just 4-12 from the field in 32 minutes of play with a net rating of -10.7.  Tony Parker was also a non-factor, and Duncan had a low-volume, inefficient (for him) night, scoring just 8 points on 3-8 from the field.

Danny Green just could not find his stroke from deep, going 0-5 from downtown as the Spurs hit a meager 5-15 from deep.  With a career average night from him, the Spurs probably come out on top in what was a very competitive game the whole way.

As a team, you have to love the defensive intensity the Spurs showed, as they notched 11 steals and 9 blocks.  They unfortunately struggled to turn those into as many fast break points as you might expect, tending to turn the ball back over or take a bad shot in transition, but you have to love the aggression and disruptive defense across the board. Aldridge only tallied one block, but by the eye test his defense looked excellent as he altered a number of other shots and never seemed to find himself out of position.  I think the Splitter-less Spurs will be just fine on that end of the court.

Jesus mentioned the other day that the Spurs would probably not be able to mask their weaknesses with 3 point shooting this season, and so far that seems to be the case.  Surprisingly, the Spurs followed Jesus' prescription as they outscored the Thunder in transition, and even though they hit at an excellent 85% clip, they only shot 13 free throws, to OKC's 22 (of which they hit 21, wow).  The Spurs also gave up 4.3 expected offensive rebounds, including one which led to a back-breaking Westbrook corner three in the final minute.

All told, it was a decent first effort, with Leonard continuing to look like a superstar, Aldridge struggling a bit to find himself, and various Spurs knocking off the rust.  This team definitely looks and feels different than the last few iterations we've seen, but that's not necessarily a bad thing and I feel pretty optimistic about their chances this season.

Four Factors (def.)

Spurs Thunder
Shooting (eFG%) 51% 53%
Ball Handling (TO%) 12% 18%
Off Rebounding (OR%) 17% 28%
Shooting FTs (FT Rate) 14% 26%

Team Stats (Definitions at bottom of post)

Spurs Thunder
Pace (No. of Possessions) 104.2
Points Per Possession (PPP) 1.02 1.07
Points Per Shot (PPS) 1.14 1.30
2-PT FG% 51.3% 52.2%
3-PT FG% 33.3% 36.8%
FT% 84.6% 95.5%
True Shooting % 53.7% 58.5%
Spurs
Thunder
Offensive Rating 101.2 108.0
Defensive Rating 108.0 101.2
Net Rating -6.8 6.8
Spurs Thunder
Passes / poss. 2.3 1.6
% of FGA uncontested 61.3% 39.5%
Points in the paint 52 44
Second chance points 12 17
Fast break points 10 7
Spurs Thunder
Assists 22 21
Steals 11 7
Turnovers 13 19
Ball Control Index (BCI)
(Assists + Steals) / TO
2.54 1.47
Spurs Thunder
Expected Offensive Rebounds 10.3 10.0
Offensive Rebounds 7 11
Difference -3.3 1.0

Spurs Shot Chart

Thunder Shot Chart

Players (Definitions at bottom of post, columns sortable)

Spurs

Player
Min
AdjGS
GS/Min
Line
Usage%
Floor%
OffRtg
DefRtg
NetRtg
Kawhi Leonard 35 31.2 0.88 32 Pts (13-22 FG, 1-3 3PT, 5-5 FT) 8 Reb (1 Off), 2 Blk, 3 Stl, 3 TO, 3 PF 32% 56% 98.9 96.7 2.2
Boris Diaw 20 17.6 0.88 9 Pts (4-5 FG, 1-1 3PT ) , 6 Ast, 3 Blk, 2 Stl, 1 TO, 1 PF 14% 76% 117.0 113.7 3.3
Manu Ginobili 19 14.2 0.76 11 Pts (5-8 FG, 1-1 3PT ) , 7 Ast, 2 Stl, 3 TO 27% 57% 128.6 131.8 -3.2
Tim Duncan 26 11.2 0.43 8 Pts (3-8 FG, 2-2 FT) 6 Reb (3 Off), 3 Blk, 2 Stl, 1 TO, 2 PF 15% 41% 90.1 104.0 -13.9
LaMarcus Aldridge 32 8.4 0.26 11 Pts (4-12 FG, 0-1 3PT, 3-4 FT) 5 Reb (2 Off), 1 Ast, 1 Blk, 2 PF 18% 43% 100.2 111.0 -10.7
Patty Mills 22 7.6 0.34 9 Pts (3-7 FG, 2-3 3PT, 1-2 FT) 3 Reb (0 Off), 2 Ast, 3 PF 17% 50% 109.1 108.6 0.5
David West 18 6.3 0.35 8 Pts (4-7 FG, ) 2 Reb (1 Off), 1 Ast, 1 TO, 1 PF 20% 51% 102.8 99.5 3.3
Tony Parker 26 4.2 0.16 10 Pts (5-11 FG, ) 3 Reb (0 Off), 3 Ast, 2 TO, 5 PF 20% 43% 94.9 107.5 -12.6
Kyle Anderson 13 4.2 0.33 4 Pts (2-4 FG, 0-1 3PT ) 1 Reb (0 Off), 1 Stl, 14% 49% 107.9 138.3 -30.4
Danny Green 29 1.1 0.04 4 Pts (2-9 FG, 0-5 3PT ) 8 Reb (0 Off), 2 Ast, 1 Stl, 2 TO, 1 PF 16% 23% 85.1 94.3 -9.3

Show Thunder Players

Spurs Index: 90.5 (def.)

Factor Value Score
Passing (AST%) 48.9% 23.6
Shooting (eFG%) 51.1% 19.0
Defensive Rebounding (DReb%) 72.5% 19.0
Defense (DefRtg) 108.0 18.5
Opponent % of FGA Uncontested 39.5% 10.3
Total 90.5

Thunder Spurs Index: 91.6 Show Breakdown

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Definitions

eFG%: Effective Field Goal percentage. (via) Effective Field Goal Percentage; the formula is (FG + 0.5 * 3P) / FGA. This statistic adjusts for the fact that a 3-point field goal is worth one more point than a 2-point field goal. For example, suppose Player A goes 4 for 10 with 2 threes, while Player B goes 5 for 10 with 0 threes. Each player would have 10 points from field goals, and thus would have the same effective field goal percentage (50%).

AdjGS: a take-off of the Game Score metric (definition here) accepted by a lot of basketball stat nerds. It takes points, assists, rebounds (offensive & defensive), steals, blocks, turnovers and fouls into account to determine an individual's "score" for a given game. The "adjustment" in Adjusted Game Score is simply matching the total game scores to the total points scored in the game, thereby redistributing the game's points scored to those who had the biggest impact on the game itself, instead of just how many balls a player put through a basket.

Usage%: This "estimates the % of team possessions a player consumes while on the floor" (via). The usage of those possessions is determined via a formula using field goal and free throw attempts, offensive rebounds, assists and turnovers. The higher the number, the more prevalent a player is (good or bad) in a team's offensive outcome.

Floor%: Via Basketball-Reference.com: Floor % answers the question, "when Player X uses a possession, what is the probability that his team scores at least 1 point?". The higher the Floor%, the more frequently the team probably scores when the given player is involved.

Offensive Rating (offRtg): Points per 100 possessions.

Defensive Rating (defRtg): Points allowed per 100 possessions.

Spurs Index: The Spurs Index © is a just-for-fun formula that attempts to quantify just how "Spursy" a particular game is, based off averages for the 2013-2014 regular season. A perfectly average game would have a Spurs Index of 100. The formula consists of four factors which the Spurs are known for and lead or nearly lead the league in: Shooting (effective Field Goal %), Passing (Assist percentage), Defensive Rebounding Rate, and Defensive Rating. These metrics are weighted as follows:

Factor Weight Average
Passing (AST%) 30% 62.1%
Shooting (eFG%) 20% 53.7%
Defensive Rebounding (DReb%) 20% 76.4%
Defense (DefRtg) 20% 100.1
Opponent % of FGA Uncontested 10% 40.8%
The values for each metric are determined based on how a particular game's performance compares to the Spurs 2013-2014 regular season average for that metric. For instance, the average effective Field Goal percentage for 2013-2014 was 53.7%. So if the Spurs shot 60% in a given game, the score for eFG% would be calculated by: (0.6 / 0.537) * 20, which would yield a "score" for that factor of 22.3.

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