SAN ANTONIO —
It’s a cliché to say that you need to take a step back to go forward, but the Spurs have moved into the modern-day NBA with a literal step back.
Spurs power forward LaMarcus Aldridge has been vocal about what it means to the Silver & Black if he can take more 3-point attempts in a game, and the numbers back it up.
In the last 10 games, Aldridge has spent less time in the midrange and more time from behind the 3-point arc; in January alone, he's taking 5 three-pointers per game. The Spurs have suddenly become a top 3 offense in the league, as well as the league’s best 3 point shooting team.
In that 10-game span, the team is averaging 118 points per game - up from 112 over the first 25 games of the season - and they’re shooting 43% from 3.
If you look at the advanced stats, the Spurs have the #2 offensive rating, the #1 effective field goal percentage, and the #1 true shooting percentage in the league.
A lot of the attention during this shift has gone to Aldridge, and rightfully so. He’s shooting an insane 59% from 3 in that 10-game span. But with the midrange clear, DeMar DeRozan suddenly finds himself with plenty of space to play where he thrives, and he’s quietly having the best offensive season of his career this year.
And let’s not overlook guard Dejounte Murray, whose offensive numbers are up across the board - FG % -up; 2P % - up; 3P% - up; FT% - up. He’s legitimately a candidate for the Most Improved Player award if he can keep this up.
Look, call it a hot streak, but maybe we should’ve seen this coming! After all, as a team, the Spurs’ three-point attempts have steadily risen over the course of the season. But is it going to make a difference on the team’s success - and more importantly - their playoff chances? After all, with the best offense in the league over the last 10 days, the Spurs are just 5-5 in that stretch. The eighth seed is still wide-open in the Western Conference, but the schedule is not this team’s friend; they have the toughest slate of games for the month of January, and the sixth-toughest road ahead.
At least we can say they tried - and haven’t the last 10 games been more fun to watch than, say, the eight-game losing stretch in November? And props to head coach Gregg Popovich for recognizing that something had to be done, and then implementing that change.
Still - play Lonnie Walker!