Boris Diaw, the coolest, craziest guy
I'm going to be honest: the metamorphosis of Boris Diaw is about the funniest thing I've ever seen. Since joining the Spurs, Boris Diaw has reinvented himself more than LeBron James has, and has readjusted his game just as successfully as LeBron.
First off, if you missed it the first time around, I highly encourage you to read DewNo's excellent piece on Boris Diaw from earlier this season - you can find it in the Must Reads to the right. I'm still not too sure what an eidetic anarchist is, or if Boris is indeed one, but DewNo really captures the essence of Bobo in a very enjoyable read that goes from ponderous time-helices filled with awkward dribbles-up-to-his-belly, to Boris - the master chef.
So now that you are familiar with the more playful side of appreciating Boris, let's have a look at the serious production that our do-everything Frenchman brings to the Spurs.
This special man and highly-skilled player is playing his best ball since at least 2005-2006, if not ever. He isn't getting the minutes he did then and his assists per-minute are down from that season where he won the Most Improved Player Award. But in almost every other per-minute category, Le Croissant is producing above or near career highs.
He is at .144 win-shares per-48, up from his .085 career average and just about at his career single-season high in 2006 of .148. He is shooting a career-high 60.6% from two, and in one of the few categories he isn't excelling at, is connecting on only 27.5% of his threes. Even so, his fg% for the season is 57.5% - 1% shy of his career high last season.
It's evident just watching a couple of games this season that Boris is looking to score when he touches the ball. It's also evident that although he is setting up his teammates less, he is still among the best big-man passers in the world, if not the best. I wish there was a stat for assists and hockey-assists that showed what players shot after receiving the pass. I would bet that Diaw is among the best in the league, and if you restricted it to just players over 6'7" that he would be top-three. What Bobo's time with the Spurs has shown me is that when he is motivated, one of the most all-around skilled players in the league is not just a piece of a contending team, but is an integral part of the entire system.
His strengths are so balanced that he can be relied upon to rebound, defend taller mid-range shooters effectively, set screens with the best of them, point at teammates in what seems to be a sincere appreciation of a nice feed*, cut when a lane is open, put back a miss, score and facilitate as a ball-handler as well as off the ball, and just generally be a plus for his team when he is on the court.
Here's something I bet you didn't know. While I was putting this video together and watching the absurdist's stellar post game, I started to wonder where Diaw ranked in terms of work in the post, so I looked it up. It turns out that Boris is leading the league in points-per-possession on post-up attempts at 1.18 (according to Synergy) which account for 16.6% of his offensive shots.
When I watch Bobo go to work in the post, with all of those spin-moves, pivots, fakes, up-and-unders, bankers, finger-rolls, floaters, and even those rare Dirkish fade-aways I get the feeling that he is highly effective. And it's a joy to watch. The numbers back up my gut, and I'm pretty sure that Pop should go to Diaw in the post more. Well, not too much more, but it's clear that the Spurs should continue to let him work down low - especially when he has non-starters tasked with stopping the man with as much junk in his game, awkward as it may be, as just about anyone in the league.
I think I'm attracted to the absurdity of watching this man who is a little too heavy to be a true anything, a few inches too short to be an elite post-defender, and seems to handle the ball much like me when I play basketball (or at least in my imagination.) I've always enjoyed absurdity, from The Far Side in my youth (and now), The Tick in my less-youthful youth, to living life in a world that, to my delight, is getting more absurd by the minute. The thing is, is that I wouldn't change a single thing about our slightly-rotund Frenchman.
I don't want him to be taller, or quicker, or more graceful with the ball. I like him just the way he is. But can you imagine a reality where Boris could jump like LeBron? Imagine the level of play that a man with his skill-set, the on-court (and probably off-court) intelligence that is matched only by Timmy, LeBron, and maybe Manu, would reach if he could jump more than three inches off the ground. That is truly absurd. He'd be a top-five player.
Boris, I know this is a contract year for you, and your play this season could easily be described as money, but please don't ever let money change you and your joyful, complete game. There is little in the game of basketball that I enjoy more than watching you do your thing.
So, before I write another thousand fan-boy words, here you go: Boris highlights from the first half of the season set to the old-school-funk of the O'Jays and their tune For the Love of Money.
* Who better to appreciate a dime than a man who would rightly be placed among the most unselfish offensive players in the league. Not that he has become selfish, just aware of his own scoring magic, and in giving up the thing that seems to bring happiness to him most easily, assisting, he only reinforces his unselfish nature.