Every so often you’ll hear power forward Tim Duncan jokingly tell his teammates or the media, like he did in the 2014 NBA Finals, about his desires to play point guard. In the San Antonio Spurs’ system, however, there is a breed of point forwards.
For those new to the term “point forward,” let’s define it as a hybrid of a point guard and forward. In other words, it’s a uniquely tall specimen who can handle the ball.
Think 6’8″ Boris Diaw or Kyle Anderson, a 6’9″, newly acquired prospect via the 30th overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft.
Rise Of The Point Forward In San Antonio
Anderson and Diaw are both listed as power forwards, but anyone who watches the Spurs play can attest the forwards are sometimes as much the playmakers as the guards. Duncan and Tiago Splitter often do big-to-big passing and that’s off more than just offensive rebounds, it’s straight out of their team philosophy.
On top of the key, though, is 32-year-old Boris engineering the offense like he is Tony Parker. Diaw, who began his career as a point guard, still has the IQ of a guard and has largely been a pass-first player.
An impending free agent, Diaw is at the end of his career, but if he plays like he did during the 2013-14 season, whoever signs him is up for quite a treat. With some encouragement from Gregg Popovich, Diaw became more of a shoot-first (or at least changed his mindset to shoot more than look to pass right away) type of player.
The defense couldn’t lay off Boris as they had in past years. With the fear he might pull the trigger from deep, Diaw became a three-point threat. Also, Boris was crafty inside with both his innovative shooting and natural passing abilities.
Kyle Anderson Is Alamo City’s Point Forward Predecessor
A chip off the old Diaw block is Anderson, San Antonio’s 2014 first-round draftee. At UCLA, Kyle spent his entire sophomore season as well as much of his freshman year running the offense as a point guard.
The luxury though, is the 20-year-old can when he’s more adept with San Antonio’s system.
If Boris Diaw Leaves, Kyle Anderson’s Impact Will Be Felt Sooner
Learning the subtleties in practices might even be more difficult to grasp than in live game action. At least that’s the impression I’ve had when watching San Antonio execute so often during games.
Whether the case or not, Anderson is skilled enough to make the Spurs’ roster this year. A bit slow like Boris is Kyle, who should fit right in with San Antonio’s schemes.
The Spurs aren’t the fastest team, but could be the smartest. Making up for that on offense, San Antonio allows all five players to touch the basketball, a central root of the point forward and according to Tony during the NBA Finals runs passing drills.
Since Diaw’s arrival, the Spurs have had a point forward, an increasingly valuable commodity in today’s NBA. So much so, San Antonio drafted Anderson, who may take over the reins sooner rather than later depending on Boris’ impending decision.