Spurs' Tiago Splitter is getting paid

Throughout recent years, the San Antonio Spurs have had a revolving door of big men whom they paired with Duncan. Among them, Rasho Nesterovic, Nazr Mohammed and Fabricio Oberto. All effective, all expendable. Right now this spot belongs to Tiago Splitter. Based on the way Splitter played against throughout the playoffs, perhaps they want to keep around him longer than they kept Oberto or Nesterovic.

Splitter’s defense on Zach Randolph was a huge reason for Grizzlies number one scoring option’s slump. He perfectly contested a potential game winning layup from Mike Conley in Game 3 and his block on Jerryd Bayless late in Game 4 closed the door for any hope of a Memphis comeback. Simply put, his defense against the Grizzlies has been stellar.

Big men who are fantastic defenders are a hot commodity in the NBA. Ever since Tyson Chandler’s defense helped take the Mavericks to the title two years ago, some teams have been bent on finding their own Chandler. One prominent example: the Clippers gave DeAndre Jordan 43 million over 4 years in 2011 with the hope that he would develop into a Chandler-esque rim protector. While Splitter may not earn this much, he is closer to 2011 Chandler than DeAndre Jordan is and could prove to be immensely valuable for a number of teams.

It’s hard to see him being more valuable elsewhere, though, than he is on the Spurs. Having him allows Duncan to focus more on the offensive end and avoid guarding certain physical specimens. While Duncan is still a good defender, it’s just hard for Tim to bang bodies with Zach Randolph or Dwight Howard for 36 minutes a game, as it would be for virtually any 37-year-old. Splitter’s defense also allows Duncan to get much needed rest on the bench and he even played over Duncan at the end of Game 6 against the Warriors.

If Splitter continues this level of play, interest for him will only mount. And the Spurs will have to reach deeper and deeper into their pockets if they plan to match other contracts offered to him.

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