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Grading the Spurs subs through a third of the season

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Remember when some dummy (me) worried the bench wouldn't be very good?

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

David West: B-

Of all the stats I've pored over about this club, West shooting 53.5 percent has to be up there. I swear it feels like he forces up more contested looks inside the paint than any of the bigs --and his numbers from 3-10 feet bare that out-- but he's been absolutely deadly from mid-range. Basically, West has been the shooter that Aldridge was hyped to be, though to be fair Aldridge gets far more attention paid to him and typically faces far better defenders.

It's West's passing that has been the most impressive aspect of his game to me. It's the M.O. for Spurs newcomers to be unselfish in order to fit in, but West doesn't just pass, he makes the pass, if that makes sense, the next-level hi-lo feed in a crowd not many see and even fewer have the guts to regularly attempt. In retrospect, I should've done a better job doing my homework on him because he's apparently been a Bobo-level playmaker for a while now.

I've been less impressed with West's interior defense, though he's often giving up some size in those match-ups with Pop playing him a lot as a center. Lineups featuring the Diaw-West pairing come up with only 76.9 percent of defensive rebounds and have a 97.8 defensive rating, per NBA.com. All other combinations featuring Duncan or Aldridge fare better in both regards.

West has been solid as a 15-minutes-a-night fourth big, but having to rely on him for more than that at this stage would likely produce diminishing returns.

Boris Diaw: B+

Bobo has found himself in the perfect situation. With Aldridge on board he no longer has to play too many minutes, and having West insures that he won't be out there on those odd nights he's not into it. We're either getting good Boris or he's chilling on the bench. He's no longer playing big minutes with Duncan --just 57 all year-- and while the two of them have been devastating together, playing more with Aldridge or West, two pick-and-pop guys, has allowed Diaw to post up more. 37.3 percent of his attempts are at the rim, compared to 28.5 last year and he's only attempting one three per game now, compared to 2.1 last season. He's shooting a tidy 70 percent from 0-3 feet.

Diaw's fingerprints are all over the Spurs most effective lineups and he and Leonard remain the two biggest monkey-wrenches who can screw with the machine the Warriors have built. For the Spurs to have any chance, he has to dominate his match-ups with Andre Iguodala or Harrison Barnes. So far all the signs have been overwhelmingly positive and I'd like to see him get more crunch-time minutes, especially when opponents go small.

Kyle Anderson: C-

I'm going to do a deep-dive story on Anderson and Jonathon Simmons soon so I don't want to give away much here, but suffice it to say Anderson has been disappointing in many aspects.

Manu Ginobili: A-

The Argentine sixth-man has been sensational and continues to play at an elite level in limited minutes. Ginobili leads all Spurs rotation players in net rating, and has the best on/off splits on the team as well. As with Diaw, Ginobili's presence has been critical to the Spurs' success. He's on eight of the team's ten best lineups that have played at least 15 minutes together.

Manu's three-point shooting has tailed off a bit after a scorching start and opponents are starting to trap him a bit harder on the high screen-roll, but he's been pretty good about not forcing things and has been more trusting of Mills and Diaw to make plays when he's not in position to. He's also deferred a lot to Leonard when he's anchored those bench lineups and been cognizant about involving Aldridge in post-ups and pick-and-pops.

Ginobili's strictly a pass-first player these days and that fits the 2015-16 Spurs, who have more scoring options than ever, perfectly. He picks his spots to score when he sees a driving lane and has been deadly on rare mid-range jumpers. Over 43 percent of his attempts still come from downtown and he continues to be a Daryl Morey All-Star, with 83 percent of his attempts being either threes, layups or those awkward floaters.

Pop is managing Ginobili's minutes more carefully than ever and has been vigilant about removing him in lopsided games, which the Spurs have had plenty of. It's definitely for the best, considering how badly he dropped off after December last year, when he played way too much in trying to keep the team competitive with Leonard out.

Patty Mills: B+

A stalwart of the second unit along with Diaw and Ginobili, Mills has been the streakiest of the bunch but also the one likeliest to get hot and bust games wide open. Mills probably leads the team in bad contested jumpers taken early in the shot clock, but his percentages both in long-twos and threes are very good and he ranks third on the club (behind Aldridge and West in the former and Green and Matt Bonner in the latter) as far as percentage of his attempts coming from those areas. Mills has been better about getting to the rim, finishing with wrong-footed scoops high off the glass or on breakouts after turnovers. He has no mid-range game at all, with only four percent of his shots coming from mid-range.

What I've been most impressed by with the feisty Australian though is his development as a play-maker. He's run more pick-and-rolls and pick-and-pops than in past seasons and done a solid job of timing his distributions in those and has been diligent to move the ball along the chain from good to great more often than not. Mills is not quite back to his 2013-14 level --he was insane that year-- but he's back to being an asset when that wasn't the case last year and Popovich won't hesitate to play him if Parker is having an off-night.

Jonathon Simmons: B+

As mentioned above, I'll really get into Anderson and Simmons in a future story but he's done a terrific job in limited opportunities so far as a 26-year-old rookie and shown that his Summer League success wasn't a fluke, where he happened to have a few lucky games against inferior competition. Simmons is legit, and he should be playing more.

Boban Marjanovic: B+

I'm thrilled to be happily wrong about the Serbian giant. He's not a novelty act, he can actually play. Marjanovic is a much better athlete than I thought, both in terms of foot speed and lateral agility, and he's been strong on the glass, often using his height to get offensive rebounds even when he didn't have position underneath. He's got a nice stroke on his jumper and at the line and decent touch around the basket as well. I wish he were a bit more aggressive on post-ups and he still brings the ball down too low, but otherwise he's far more developed offensively than I figured. In his own end he's not very good but not a liability like some predicted either. People can get around him for sure, but he's got the length to contest and alter shots, he rebounds well and he's not overly foul-prone.

Marjanovic hasn't at all embarrassed himself when playing with and against other regular rotation players on the odd night that Duncan or Aldridge weren't suited up and the only question with him is if he has the stamina to handle a regular minute load in the case of an emergency or, say, after Duncan retires. Can he play 15 minutes? 20? He's an intriguing talent to be sure and already a favorite of the writers.

Rasual Butler: C+

Has been the odd man out with the coaching staff continuing to give Anderson every chance to earn his spot and the emergence of the younger, springier Simmons, but Butler has fit in very well in the locker room and suits the team's culture so well it feels like he should've been a Spur all along. Pop has played him mostly as a four in small-ball lineups and ironically Butler, a shooting-specialist, has impressed in every aspect but shooting. He's not been very accurate from deep, which is perhaps understandable given the sporadic minutes, but he's been surprisingly strong as a shot-blocker and on the boards.