Tiago Splitter NBA Draft Scouting Report
Apr 20, 2006, 09:17 pm
(2006 draft scouting report, see player blog tab for more recent updates)
Coming from the lately very prolific Brazilian talent pool, Tiago Splitter is one of the most consistent big men the emerge out of the international scene in the past few years. Long, athletic, tough, intense, but also featuring a few promising skills, Splitter has made a name for himself in Europe by becoming a very important cog (the starting center) on one of the top teams in the Old Continent, Tau Vitoria. This is a team whose place amongst the elite teams in Europe was established by reaching the Euroleague Final Four both this season and last.
Taken to Spain at the age of 15, the once perimeter-oriented big man has been developed as a center by Tau Vitoria, creating a curious combination that sees Splitter playing as a face-up big man with the Brazilian National Team, while sticking to the low post and off-the-ball moves with Tau. However, theres a strength he delivers regardless of the competition he plays in: defense.
Splitter measured out at 611 ¾ two years ago at the Chicago pre-draft camp, 7 feet for all intents and purposes if he hasnt grown since then, displaying a nice (although not great) 72 wingspan, and an impressive 91.5 standing reach. He also possesses a very solid frame that will allow him to carefully continue to add the weight if needed and allow him to handle either frontcourt position, even if he looks a bit thin right now. That process of adding strength, if properly done, shouldnt interfere with what is one of Splitters main assets at this point, his quickness. Splitter excels moving around the court, whether running the break or in shorter efforts in the set offense or defense. Its not only a matter of capability, but also of willingness, as he consistently shows great intensity playing the game. It helps that he is also is a highly coordinated athlete with excellent reflexes who always seems to maintain great balance.
Having the length, quickness, attitude and already some decent strength, just a bit of understanding of the game is required to produce a good defender; and Splitter is oozing with it. The Brazilian shows excellent decision making on defense. He enjoys remarkable lateral quickness, understands defensive angles extremely well and is highly efficient in his movements. If the defensive rotation calls for it, he can switch his matchup onto a wing player and still manage to contain the rival. He also enjoys excellent timing in pick and roll plays, stepping out to slow down the ball-handler and recovering his matchup quite fast.
Splitter never avoids contact in the low post, being able to hold his ground against the physicality of stronger players (up to a certain point). He does a great job of keeping his hands in the air and not reaching down for ticky-tack fouls (although he doesnt get much respect from the referees, often being called for very questionable fouls due to his age). He also shows good positioning on weak-side defense, nicely executing rotations or quickly going for the block if the proper situation arises, again with nice timing.
However, while he certainly provides some intimidation, Splitter is not a shot-blocking type of defender; he never risks his defensive position for the sake of adding blocks to his stat-line. All in all, hes quietly becoming one of the best defensive big men in Europe.
When we move to the offensive end, theres less certainty at the moment and more potential to speak of, but Tiagos skills shouldnt be underestimated. Playing for Tau Vitoria he has developed a great understanding of off-the-ball movement, which is required to take advantage of the pick-and-roll plays of which his teams offensive game is so heavily based on. Setting the screen himself and perfectly rolling afterwards to the basket while presenting himself for the pass, or looking for spaces near the basket while other teammates (usually Pablo Prigioni and Luis Scola) execute the play and draw the attention of the defense, he knows how to find open looks and spaces.
Less frequently, Splitter will also benefit from the excessive low-post defenses that Luis Scola suffers from, gaining his defenders back to receive near the basket. Tiago enjoys good soft hands and the ability to finish with either of them around the rim in half-court situations or after running the floor and catching tough passes in transition. He likes to score using a two-handed dunk when given a bit of space.
When it comes to creating his own points, he focuses on the low post in Vitoria and adds a face-up game handling the ball when playing with the Brazilian national team. Not the most fancy and consistent post-up player, Tiago already can produce down low with some simple moves and a nice soft touch. He primarily looks to seal his defender with a spin move and score through a layup, or to find space to deliver a right-handed semi-hook shot as close as possible to the basket. Already a decent player establishing position to receive the ball in the post, getting stronger will only help him in this department, and also whenever he needs to do a little banging to get the job done more effectively.
Playing for Tau, if Splitter gets the ball in the high post or further, he will pass it or, much less frequently, put it on the floor to come closer to the basket with the intention of posting up whoever he finds in his way. When playing for Brazil, he doesnt hesitate to face and attack his matchup while looking for a layup, showing surprisingly good ball-handling skills (particularly considering how little dribbling he shows in Spain), a really interesting first step and some nice footwork. Although still inconsistent, this could potentially become an excellent weapon to better take advantage of his quickness. He even shoots the ball from the perimeter playing for his National Team, enjoying range out to the international three-point line.
Attitude, maturity, intelligence and character are key factors when discussing Splitters skills and potential. Whenever other players produce doubts and questions about their real desire and ability to fulfill their potential, the Brazilian transmits confidence in a successful development that already has taken him quite far. Splitter is a hard worker that still puts great effort on improving his weaknesses beyond the team practices. The same attitude is translated to the court, where he delivers full effort throughout the game. Rebounding is a good example, as even if its not his best strength, he delivers nice aggressiveness cleaning the glass, particularly on the offensive end, besides showing nice timing. But hes also a smart player, extremely well coached (and coachable), that accurately executes whats expected from him, committing few mistakes while slowly (but constantly) expanding his game. He enjoys a high basketball IQ, showing good decision making, and some nice passing ability, especially facing the basket and on the move after putting the ball on the floor while driving towards the basket, although you will also see him passing the ball out of the low post reasonably well.
(Luis Fernández: January 16th, 2005)
Tiago shows most of the physical gifts you should ask for in a big man, as he has an excellent long frame, that's ready to put some weight on, a nice vertical leap, good quickness and great mobility that allow him to excel at running up and down the court. He's pretty athletic for a guy his size.
The Brazilian is a very dangerous weapon in the paint. He enjoys a very effective post-up game that's really hard to stop; which is completely logical considering we're talking about a guy with good footwork, nice footspeed, 6-11 size, long arms, the ability to finish with both hands, a soft touch and no fear of contact, sometimes even looking for it to perform his movements.
Another of his favourite situations on the offensive end is the pick and roll. He sets good picks and perfectly rolls towards the basket, trying then to take advantage of his size and soft touch, or dishing to a teammate whenever he sees a better option than his. Indeed, he sees the floor quite well, especially facing the basket, and makes good decisions, never panicking when double-teamed, although he could improve his passing execution. While not a superb handler, he can reliably put the ball on the floor if needed, and even penetrate, usually against centers, beating them with his quickness, being able to drive both left or right.
Defensively, Tiago is very solid, and quite intense. He's rarely banged in the low post despite usually being lighter than his rivals, and he enjoys accurate lateral quickness to stop his matchups and even to contain (to a certain degree) smaller rivals after defensive changes. He never forgets team defense, and generally shows very good positioning. He's a decent shot blocker, but he rarely risks his defensive position to get the block, so in the end he's not very prolific.
By now you'll have realized that Splitter has quite a high basketball IQ. He's a smart kid, and knows what the game is about. He's also a hard worker and a kid who shows good attitude on the court. Everything seems in place in his head.