It's a hashtag I've been floating around Twitter for some time now and it's finally time to flesh out some thoughts. It's time to bench Matt Bonner. This isn't the best time to bring this topic up because, well, Bonner was probably the second best player on the court during the Spurs 114-97 win over the Suns, Sunday afternoon (I feel comfortable saying George Hill's 29 point performance made him the game's best player). Bonner had 16 points and even more surprisingly 11 rebounds and made 3 out 4 three pointers.
That's the good news and that's the problem at the same time. Counting Sunday's game, in which Bonner shot 75% from 3, he's shooting 28% from the field. In the month of March he shot 36% from the 3. Over the last month, he's been an average 3 point shooter at best. That would be fine if Bonner was good at anything else except shooting the 3 ball. He doesn't rebound well, only 3.5 boards per game. When he dribbles, all I can think is he shouldn't and then comes the not Tony Parker floater.
So you might be able to tell I'm not Matt Bonner's biggest fan. I think he does have value, but on this team his liabilities outweigh his value. This Spurs team is not the strong defensive team of year's past. It is small (Gary Neal is the back up small forward for crying out loud) and there isn't a real shot blocker on the team (though Tim Duncan's 2 blocks a game in 28 minutes is fairly impressive). So the last thing the second tallest guy on the floor needs to be is a jump shooter who can't guard the post.
So it was especially discouraging during Sunday's game against Phoenix where Tiago Splitter took DeJuan Blair's spot in the rotation and not Bonner's. I am fully aware of DeJuan's limitations, namely a jump shot and the fact that he's about 3 inches too short for his position. But he can rebound, he hustles and he's a smart defender despite his natural limitations. Splitter is similar to Blair except with 5 extra inches in height and 5 less inches in vertical (not to mention those alligator arms).
Between Gary Neal, George Hill, Manu & even Richard Jefferson, the Spurs have plenty of shooters. I know Coach Pop likes to stretch the floor with as many shooters as possible, but given the small lineup they've been routinely throwing out, it just seems to make more sense to play the bigs that can protect the paint. Moving Matt Bonner out of the rotation isn't likely to happen this season, but at some point the Spurs rotation needs a little less Matt Bonner and more Tiago Splitter and DeJuan Blair.