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Tiago Splitter’s Improving Offensive Game
Tiago Splitter was highly touted coming out of Brazil, and was expected to be even better than fellow Brazilian Nene. In early mock drafts prior to the 2007 draft, Splitter was expected to be a lottery pick. Questions regarding his eligibility caused him to fall to the latter part of the first round where the Spurs gambled on him with the 28th overall pick.
Splitter's length and athleticism make it easy for him to clean up messes around the rim and score a lot of opportunity buckets. The result? Splitter is shooting an absurdly good 63.2% from the floor, though he does only take 5.6 attempts per game, choosing only to shoot when great opportunities present themselves.
He also cites his improved free throw shooting as a source of confidence. He shot only 54.3% from the line last year as a rookie but has improved nearly 20 percentage points and is shooting 72.7% from the line this year. It shows that hard work can foster improvement, which has to only further anger Dwight Howard owners, because the work Splittler has put in, Howard hasn't. But this isn't about Dwight Howard…
"When you know that you will make free throws, you can play more aggressive," he said . "(You can) go to the rim and you're not thinking, 'What if I get fouled and miss free throws?'
Splitter has scored in double figures in his last five games, and posted an outstanding 25 point performance while goign 11 of 13 from the floor in a game the Spurs dropped to the Houston Rockets. In addition to the 25 points, he also grabbed 10 boards and dished out four assists. Over those five games in which he has scored double figures, Splitter is averaging 14.6 points per game and 7.4 boards per game. That should make him universally owned, regardless of league format.
He's still only seeing 20 minutes a game this season, but with the condensed schedule and Tim Duncan needing rest, we may see more games like the Houston contest, in which Spiltter saw 31 minutes, because it was the Spurs fourth game in five nights, and you can't readily expect a grizzled vet like Duncan to be able to handle that kind of work load.
The problem here is, of course, the ship may have already sailed on Splittler. In the highly competitive leagues I play in, breakout players are often added by halftime of their breakout game. Splitter has now turned in five such games. Check your wire. It's doubtful someone hasn't claimed him already, but it never hurts to check.
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