San Antonio Spurs: Aron Baynes Has Stepped Up

Jan 20, 2015; Denver, CO, USA; San Antonio Spurs center Aron Baynes (16) during the game against the Denver Nuggets at Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 20, 2015; Denver, CO, USA; San Antonio Spurs center Aron Baynes (16) during the game against the Denver Nuggets at Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports /

Over the weekend rumors were swirling that the San Antonio Spurs were looking to upgrade their post depth. The player the rumors revolved around was former Kansas star Thomas Robinson. After being bought-out by the Denver Nuggets, Robinson was in search of a place to finally get his career off the ground.

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San Antonio had shown interest, but sensing that there would not likely be much playing time available, he chose to sign with Brooklyn. While all this talk was happening, something else strange happened. The big man the Spurs need is developing right before their eyes.

Center Aron Baynes is starting to play well again, giving the Spurs much needed depth down low. For the season Baynes is averaging 6.5 points and 4.6 rebounds with a PER of 15.10, on 58.8 percent shooting, in only 15.7 minutes per game.

In his last three games he’s played 25 minutes per game and has seen a significant uptick in production. Before the All-Star break, against the Pistons, Baynes scored 12 points and grabbed four rebounds on 6-for-8 from the floor.

After returning from the long All-Star break, he picked up right where he left off, shooting 6-for-9 and scoring 14 points against the Los Angeles Clippers.

He followed that up by recording a double-double (12 points and 10 rebounds) against the Golden State Warriors. As his minutes continue to increase, so does his production.

The 6-foot-10 New Zealand native is in his third season with the Spurs, after playing four years at Washington State University and then playing professionally in Greece, Lithuania, Germany and Slovenia.

He went undrafted in the 2009 NBA draft, which sent him on his European basketball adventure. In 2013, he signed on with San Antonio, bouncing back and forth between the Spurs and the Austin Toros in the D-League.

His game would definitely not be categorized as pretty, but lately it has been effective. He’s not the most athletic or skilled post player in the league, but he can finish around the rim. He’s currently shooting 62.2 percent at less than three feet, and his midrange game has also improved.

Baynes is shooting 42.1 percent between 10 and 16 feet, and 43.8 percent from 16 feet to the three-point arc. He’s also shooting 84.1 percent from the free-throw line, which is impressive for a player of his size. The jumper is not exactly the model of perfect shooting form, but it’s going in and that is what matters.

An under-looked aspect of his success is the new opportunity to photoshop Bane masks on pictures of him after he dunks on someone. Bane is of course the villain of the Batman movie, The Dark Knight Rises, if Baynes has a moment in the playoffs I’m sure those memes will break the Internet.

It’s too early to add Baynes to the list of Boris Diaw, Patty Mills, and Cory Joseph of rough drafts that the Spurs organization turned into fully formed NBA rotation players, but if he keeps up this trajectory that will absolutely be the case.

How large a role he plays for the rest of the season remains to be seen. Tiago Splitter has dealt with injuries much of the season, missing 23 games, and being limited to 19 minutes per game when he is available.

If the injury issues flair up again, Baynes could continue to be in the starting lineup which is something that would have shocked most Spurs fans to hear before the season.

He may regress as his role increases, but for now San Antonio will gladly take the spark he has given them for the last three games.

Next: Is Tony Parker Still a Star?

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