The San Antonio Spurs do a smart thing, lock up Tiago Splitter

In news that will surprise no one, the San Antonio Spurs just made a smart decision. The Spurs locked up free agent big man Tiago Splitter to a 4 year deal, worth $36 million, according to Adrian Wojnarowski. The big Brazilian won’t make many headlines or sell many jerseys, but what he does do is defend expertly, score quite efficiently, make the right pass almost always, and just generally make the Spurs better when he’s on the floor.

Splitter struggled a bit against the Heat in the finals due to the lack of a traditional big man for Splitter to match up with. Tiago, also rather famously, got obliterated at the rim by, the world’s best player, LeBron James. In case you forgot, it looked like this:

Yiiiikes. Gif via SBNation.com

What’s not immediately apparent from that quick look on the gif is that the reason LeBron is in position to crush Tiago so badly is that Kawhi Leonard was too close to the paint, allowing LeBron to protect the rim. Kawhi should have been in the corner, forcing LeBron to guard him. If Kawhi does his job, Tiago, having done everything right to this point, gets an easy dunk. Instead, Tiago ends up on the wrong end of a SportsCenter highlight. Poor guy. But this play shows you two things about Splitter. He knows where to be offensively and is unafraid of challenging shot-blockers at the rim with a strong finish. Against just about anyone else, save a LARRY SANDERS!, a healthy Dwight Howard, or in this case, an engaged LeBron freaking James, Splitter finishes that dunk through contact. That finishing ability and knowledge of where to be is a big reason why Splitter has a career True Shooting Percentage of 61% and sports a nifty 18.7 PER along with a pretty great .188 WS per 48 minutes. Splitter also will turn just 29 early this coming season and will be on a solid contract until he is 33. As a result, the Spurs can expect Splitter’s excellent production to continue relatively unabated for the duration of the deal. Just another solid, smart move from the team that makes them seemingly always.