The San Antonio Spurs signed forward Rudy Gay and are expected to sign big man Joffrey Lauvergne. Both players will provide Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich more lineup flexibility, as Gay can play either the 3 or the 4, while Lauvergne is diverse in that he can play the 4 and 5 comfortably.
Just focusing in on their passing ability, I was eager to see what type of passing skill set the two players demonstrated last season that might be adaptable to the Spurs’ offense. I went through last season’s footage of all their assists and found an assortment of different types of passes each player is capable of delivering. The footage is broken down in the film analysis below.
Passing as the roll man
Lauvergne had many clips delivering passes inside or outside as the roll man either at the 4 or 5 position. This is an important skill if you’re a 4 or 5 in the Spurs’ offense, because after setting a pick, you have to be able to roll, catch a pass and make a quick decision to attack or pass inside or outside.
Gay didn’t have any of these passes because either his teammates didn’t make the shots when he did pass to them which wouldn’t count as an assist, or because Sacramento mainly made him the P&R ball handler, and he didn’t really set screens as a roll or pop man.
Passing as the P&R ball handler
Lauvergne only had one clip, when he was the 5 and Cristiano Felicio was the 4. So, it’s unknown if this was just a small sample size in a blowout or if this could be a skill he possesses and may try to run with San Antonio.
With Gay being one of the Kings’ primary scoring options, there were numerous clips with him as the P&R ball handler. He’s very comfortable attacking a defense this way and this will really help Kawhi Leonard, so Leonard and Gay can either run a 3-4 or 4-3 P&R together, or if Leonard is getting doubled or trapped, Gay can become a P&R creator on the other end of the floor. This P&R ability was mainly something Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Jonathon Simmons could do effectively for the Spurs last season.
Passing in the open court
Despite being known as a scorer, Gay is a very willing passer in the open court and the fast break. Lauvergne has stable control and he’s able to read the entire floor when running with the ball in the open court.
Good to great passing
Something that Popovich often references to is going from a good shot, to a great shot. In numerous clips, Gay and Lauvergne showed that even when they saw a good shot open, they moved the ball one more time to get a wide open great shot.
Passing out of a close out
Though Gay and Lauvergne can spread the floor, they have to be able to attack a close-out in the event the defense tries to take the outside shot away. They both showed this ability in several clips.
Passing from above the arc
When the defense gives them some space above the arc, both Gay and Lauvergne can scan the floor, find cutters and deliver on-the-money passes.
Entry passing into the post
With Gay having a big man like DeMarcus Cousins to pass to and Lauvergne with Enes Kanter when he was with Oklahoma City, both players should be comfortable getting LaMarcus Aldridge the ball in the post when they’re on the floor with him.
Pass out of the post
Gay can post-up most defenders and he shows his ability to pass out of the post in the clip above. Lauvergne mainly spreads the floor, but if he has a smaller defender guarding him, he will venture down into the low block and facilitate the offense from there.
Passing out of double teams from the post
While Gay has more experience and keeps his composure when double teamed in the post, Lauvergne demonstrates this ability as well, especially when he gets a mismatch in the post like he did in the clip above, by getting a point guard guarding him off the P&R.
With a big man like Aldridge and presumably Pau Gasol, should he re-sign, both Gay and Lauvergne demonstrate the high-low passing ability, in the event San Antonio continues with some of those actions in the offense.
Dribble Hand Off & Elbow Passing
Lauvergne had numerous clips on both the Thunder and Bulls where he showed the ability to keep the offense flowing through the use of the dribble hand off action, very similar to how Boris Diaw was able to show that action when he was a Spur. Lauvergne is also able to facilitate from the elbow if the defense gives him some space.
Because Gay didn’t play a traditional 4 with the Kings (setting screens), he didn’t have any clips with DHO action. And, since he can be a multilevel scorer, defenses didn’t usually give him the space to operate from the elbow. He has to initiate the offense with the ball above the arc or in the post.
Film clips from NBA.com/stats