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The Spurs may not be dunking much, but they are alley-ooping

So the Spurs are throwing alley-oops now?

San Antonio Spurs v Minnesota Timberwolves Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images

The Spurs don’t dunk very often. They had fewer dunks than any other team last season, and at least so far, seem well on their way to finishing at the bottom again this year. They’re currently tied with the Wizards with the fewest dunks, at 27, despite having played 2 more games, which leaves them behind 6 individual players.

Stats from

Three of those came last night against the Timberwolves, including one of the lowest altitude alley-oops you’ll ever see. That one came on a clever baseline out of bounds play a little over halfway through the 1st quarter.

The Spurs start with Patty Mills under the left side of the rim, LaMarcus Aldridge on the right block, DeMar DeRozan just above the free throw line on the right side and Derrick White on the left wing. As soon as the ref hands Rudy Gay the ball, Patty and LaMarcus converge on Andrew Wiggins, who’s guarding DeMar. That forces both Josh Okogie and Noah Vonleh to switch as DeMar works to the weak side baseline and Patty pops out to the right wing.

With Wiggins now responsible for LaMarcus, but behind him in the paint, the big Texan has an open lane to the rim. For some reason, Jake Layman, who isn’t providing ball pressure and thus is almost certainly responsible for picking up any open cutters to the rim, is extremely late to recognize what’s happening and has no effect on the play.

Look where LaMarcus caught the ball. Does it count as an alley-oop if the dunker is still on the ground when they catch the pass?

Late in the second quarter, Rudy and LaMarcus hooked up again, this time in transition.

Rudy pushes the pace off a defensive rebound and LaMarcus beats Karl Anthony-Towns down the floor. With Andrew Wiggins being the only player in position to cover LaMarcus or pick up ball, he has to make a choice. Towns directs him to stop ball, so either Okogie on the weak side or Treveon Graham down low need to peel off and protect the paint. But both are already tracking a man and neither recognizes the impending danger.

To be fair to Graham, he’s choosing between giving LaMarcus a dunk or Patty a wide open corner three. The difference in expected points off those two plays isn’t really all that much. Okogie, on the other hand, probably should have been much deeper given that he’s on the weak side and Derrick isn’t nearly as dangerous of a shooter.

Wiggins could have also tried to split the difference between the two for a little longer in an attempt to buy enough time for Towns to get back in the play. But that’s not what happened. LaMarcus hustled, Rudy pushed the pace and they got rewarded with an easy 2 points.

This time, though, LaMarcus actually had to go get the ball. Take a look at where he caught this one.

He won’t be making change off the top of the backboard anytime soon, but for a 34 year-old in his 14th NBA season, that’s not too bad. Get up, big fella.