Tottenham player review: Jacob Poult was indispensable on both sides

A lot of Spurs have entered the 2021-22 season with something to prove, but few have come under as much pressure as Jacob Boeltel. In his first year as a full-time rookie, he basically did not have reliable support and was expected to not only be a defensive presence, as he had been in the past, but also become an offensive threat.

We now know the answer to the question of whether Poeltl was up to the task, but the way he did it was impressive and unconventional by modern NBA standards for big men, and it’s worth a closer look.

Attributes, expected role and stats

Jacob Boltle is a 7’1″, 26-year-old veteran center who was entering the second year of his 2021/202 contract extension.

He was expected to play heavy minutes as the massive player at the start is surrounded by the surrounding players and lays the line in defense while also contributing more than the last in attack.

In 68 games, he averaged 13.5 points, 9.3 rebounds, and 2.8 assists while playing 29 minutes per game.

Season review

It became clear early on how important Poeltl was to Spurs, both because of a really strong start to the year for him, and perhaps more importantly, because of what happened in his absence. Seven games into the season, the big man went into health and safety protocols and missed the next seven games. While Spurs’ record was far similar to his, the lack of reliable depth in the center was revealed. Poeltl wasn’t necessarily the best player on the team, but there is a case to be made for him as the most indispensable player. Spurs went 4-10 without him, and the team was six points better with him on the field when he was relevant, the team’s highest difference except for mid-season possession Josh Richardson. Things got better once Zach Collins became available, but it’s hard to overstate how important Poeltl has been throughout the year.

His impact at the team level was the result of his well-established skills and the development of new ones. Poeltl remained a superb defender near the edge, trailing only Joel Embiid in contested shots in the restricted area, while also agile enough to handle a late shot clock switch. In case of offense, he was still the tireless photographer and offensive forward he had been for his entire career. The only thing that has changed overall is his conditioning, where he was able to handle longer minutes without exposure to gas, which was a minor problem for him earlier in his career, but the more specific improvements came in the offing. Tasked with facilitating a team lacking ball handlers and encouraging them to look up their shot in the post, Jak scored a career high in usage and assist percentage while keeping errors to a minimum and playing within himself.

grade season:

Poeltl came close to maximizing his entire skill set this past season, proving he can be more than just a defensive specialist. He’s not an elite passer but he’s working on a spurs attack that mostly asks him to find a breaker. He also rediscovered his scoring touch, going from finishing just 26 possessions on the block at a below-average rate last season to 102 at a good rate this season, according to Synergy Sports. It also refined a quick, shooter-like shot close to the basket which made it a great escape valve in the pick-and-saw and mitigated its lack of vertical athleticism. Instead of flying a lob dunk, he can simply grab the ball and use his length to get a high-quality shot at his defender. In terms of defense, he remained mostly reliant on covering relegation, and while he struggled against other players, Greg Popovich kept him there even when the opponents were big and had to switch, and he did a solid job.

What prevents Poeltl from getting an A+ is his lack of aggressiveness in the post and his shocking free kicks. Jack rarely asks for a double team, so it’s not his fault that he can’t create it for others in the post, but if he’s covered on his own, he should be more determined to attack, The coaching staff also asked him to be. Getting on the ball, wiping the floor, then fainting again takes just seconds to run out of possessions. As for the free throw, it could be something he will struggle throughout his career, but after hitting 62 percent of the goal line after the All-Star break last season, the expectation of some progress seemed to make sense. Sadly, it’s followed the same pattern this season and has generally fallen out of favor, which is a bit disappointing.

the future

Tottenham are fortunate to have a good starting position that only struggles with very specific matches. However, there are two factors that may give him some hold when it comes to having him on site for the next five years: his age and his next contract.

Poeltl enters last year in a fantastic value deal for San Antonio. Players who have his influence simply don’t get just seven numbers in the NBA. The problem is, will the value of the traditional position be twice as much as Poeltl’s $9.4 million in next season? Because his contract could easily level Clint Capella in the $15 million per year range, or maybe even Stephen Adams at $20 million. Even those who think it’s worth it, and it’s a perfectly reasonable position to take, have to worry about whether it fits the schedule for the rest of the team.

He’s very close in age to Dejounte Murray, which helps, but the Spurs could use a younger big guy who can grow with the rest of the younger core. If they find, say, one in this upcoming draft, does that make Poeltl expendable in a trade similar to the one that sent Derek White to Boston? At least we know they are I enjoyed some of his performances last season.

For now, it’s comforting to know that Poelt will probably be next season. Even if Spurs were in no hurry to get back into the competition and were eventually moved before they even got there, he’s clearly incredibly useful in the near future. His defense erases many of the mistakes made by his less experienced teammates, and his improved attack allows others not to overestimate their energy.

Sometimes the worst thing rebuilding teams can do is overthink things or look too far in the way. When it comes to proven players like Poeltl, keeping them as long as it is justified to do so is the right thing to do.


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