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Boban Marjanovic, the NBA's answer to the mythical Kraken

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In 15 meaningful minutes, the 7'3 Serbian was perfect from the floor, grabbed four rebounds, got a steal and a block -- and made sure the Spurs stayed perfect at home.

Here, Boban is being boxed out by 6'11 Gorgui Dieng, whom he dwarfs.
Here, Boban is being boxed out by 6'11 Gorgui Dieng, whom he dwarfs.
Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

With Tim Duncan resting for a second consecutive game, Gregg Popovich unleashed the Boban in a regular season game against the Minnesota Timberwolves and it was glorious.

Boban Marjanovic -- the NBA equivalent of the mythical Kraken that devours ships whole -- is a devastating force unlike the NBA has seen. He's a lumbering 7-foot-3, with the touch of a point guard around the rim, the IQ of a whipsmart basketball player and long arms that deter opponents from even messing around in his vicinity.

In short, Boban has been one of this season's best revelations, along with Jonathon Simmons' development, Kawhi Leonard regularly being Kawhi Leonard: Superhero, Tony Parker finding a groove, Boris Diaw beating fools in the post and LaMarcus Aldridge's emerging defense.

But no storyline is nearly as enjoyable as Boban, all 7-feet-3 of him, entering basketball games and producing. For a guy his size, he's surprisingly nimble and mobile enough to be a force on the offensive end. Guarding the pick-and-roll can be a chore for him, especially when the screen is far on the perimeter and the big is mobile. That's when his flaws are obvious. Staying in front of basketball players will never be Boban's specialty, but he works hard to recover and usually puts himself in a position to make a play when he is beat defensively. As David West put it postgame, Boban is no stiff.

Other than that? Boban excels in most categories, albeit in a limited sample size. Boban is averaging 26.8 points and 13.7 rebounds per 36 minutes, while shooting 65.9 percent from the field. His Player Efficiency Rating is 33.8. His free throw stroke is fluid and moves without a hitch, resulting in a 77.4 percent clip from the foul line. Rim protection is another plus and the big fella is blocking 2.9 shots per 36 minutes.

Take these stats with a massive Boban-sized grain of salt, of course. He's averaging just 6.5 minutes per game and usually plays in garbage time. These numbers, which rival thoseof a guy named Steph Curry, wouldn't likely continue if, say, he was starting full-time. I'm not saying Boban is a bonafide All-Star, but perhaps we should give Boban a little more credit here. As a 7-foot-3 Serbian that looks the part of a James Bond villain, he seemed like nothing more than an amusing sideshow. 

We'd watch him sit down on the bench and marvel at his gangly legs. Hahah, look honey, that guy is really tall. He doesn't look like he belongs in the NBA.

He'd play every 20 or so games, run up and down the court, and that'd be it. Maybe he would make a shot or two. But this? No one could have seen this coming. Boban was the star of an actual basketball game against a Timberwolves team fielding a frontcourt of Karl Anthony-Towns and Kevin Garnett. (Granted, Boban didn't face them much.)

In 15 minutes, Boban scored 17 points without missing on any of his seven field goals. That's positively Steph Curry-esque and then some. Boban flashed a floater, cleaned the offensive glass for a putback layup, slammed home a dunk and took advantage of the poor Timberwolves in the post, who were unable to get a hand in his face to contest. When Duncan missed a game against the 76ers, Boban chipped in 18 points off the bench. He hasn't had many opportunities this season, but he's capitalized on the few thrown his way. It's impressed Popovich, who called Boban a "good basketball player" -- the highest of praise an NBA player can receive.

If you're waiting for Boban to become the next Tim Duncan, hold off for a bit. He won't ever be more than an 11th or 12th man, especially on a Spurs team relying on Duncan, LaMarcus Aldridge, Boris Diaw and David West.

No, he won't be a go-to offensive threat and he won't be playing significant minutes when the postseason rolls around.

His biggest accomplishment this season has already happened -- exceeding our expectations, ten fold.

Boban Marjanovic is more than just a stiff, more than a sideshow, more than a "fan favorite" anymore. He's a quality basketball player that belongs in the NBA.

That's a bigger revelation than Boban himself.

Game ball

Boban Marjanovic: 17 points on 7-7 shooting, 4 rebounds, 1 block, 1 steal, +16.

More of this please.

Boban quote(s) of the night

"If you're not alone, somebody else will be alone. We play like that as a team, and this is good."

- Boban explaining the Spurs offense

"One moment, I feel the ball in my hands, I don't know how. It's magic."

- Boban on playing with Manu Ginobili

"I tried to be useful. I tried to be part of this team, help my teammates in any way possible."

- Boban

"Boban gave us a huge boost with his IQ and size. He's not a big stiff. He can move and it's a positive for us. He's one of those guys -- a crowd favorite."

- David West on Boban

By the numbers

  • 18-0: Spurs record at home this season, becoming just the third Western Conference team in NBA history to begin the year with that mark.
  • 6: Consecutive wins over the Timberwolves. The average margin of victory: 20.5 points.
  • 5-0: Spurs record when David West starts in place of Tim Duncan this season.
  • 41: Points from Boban Marjanovic, Manu Ginobili and Patty Mills off the bench.
  • 2.4: Points per shot from Boban.
  • 29.4: 3-point percentage for the Spurs, the eighth-time this season with a below 30 percent clip. San Antonio is 5-3 in those games.
  • 1: Bat swatted by The Coyote!
  • 1: Boban slam.

#analysis

  • Obligatory "Boban is actually good at basketball" point. There. Let's move on.
  • Obligatory "Can you believe how good Kawhi is right now?" take. His latest performance: 17 points on 9 shots, 11 rebounds, 3 assists and 1 steal. If it wasn't for that tall guy, we'd be talking about how yet again Kawhi is amazing and awesome and blah blah blah you get the picture. We are lucky to watch this guy grow into one of the best basketball players alive.
  • Saddled with foul trouble, Aldridge took a backseat to Boban and David West. And yet the Spurs found a way to win without Duncan, and with Aldridge scoring just 6 points. Don't read into Aldridge's performance too much (or at all).
  • What would the Spurs do without Manu? He's the life blood of the bench unit and his influence trickles down to the entire team.

Twitter highlights

Taco Bell menu item of the game

Let's go with the smother burrito, because it seems like something Boban would eat.

And that's a wrap. Until next time ...