This year’s NBA draft doesn’t have multiple franchise players like in previous years but it is very evenly spread out in terms of talent. A team can find a starter late in the 1st round and decent rotation players in the second round in this draft.
There is plenty of talent to be had just out of the pool of American prospects, and having a late first round pick won’t preclude the San Antonio Spurs from getting a potential starter or all-star. The Spurs have already begun working out targeted prospects, some make you scratch your head (Matt Howard) and some are really intriguing like Justin Harper. What we know going into this process is the Spurs will do their homework on any guy in their draft range they have targeted and will make a wise selection. Any player they pick you should wisely presume will turn out to be a solid NBA player.
Based on need, presumed availability, and skill, I’ve compiled a list and brief profile on American college players that would be a good fit for San Antonio.
Chris Singleton – SF/PF, Florida State, 6’9”, 225 lbs.
A shutdown defender at the college level. He is very athletic and because of this athleticism, Singleton can defend both forward positions and is a very good rebounder. A blue collar type.
He made Kyle Singler’s life hell in Florida State’s victory over Duke in January, forcing him into a lot of tough shots, propelling Florida State to victory. He was perhaps the most complete defensive player in college basketball this year with his ability to defend the post and the wing. He can shoot the ball pretty well out to three point range but the rest of his offensive game is fairly limited as he doesn’t really have a post game and can’t create his own shot due to his lack of ball handling skills.
Singleton had surgery on a fractured foot in February and could slip in the draft depending on the outcome of medical tests. Right now he is projected as a mid to late first round pick with most projections having him land somewhere in the teens. If he fell to the Spurs, it could be another savvy draft steal for the San Antonio front office.
JaJuan Johnson – PF, Purdue, 6’10”, 221 lbs.
He’s a long athletic big man with three point range. Imagine a 6’10″ Hakim Warrick with a three point shot and that’s what you can expect out of Johnson. He will be great in pick-and-pop situations and in transition. Is a very quick leaper and he’s a good shot blocker because of his length. Johnson is very weak for a big man and his rebounding production shows it. He gets bullied in the post and will need to fully embrace a NBA weight training program.
Johnson has the type of physical ability that could enable him to blossom into a All-Star level big man if he is able to add weight. It’s a typical situation with players at the bottom of the first round the ”they could be great if they could…..” you fill in the blank. If Johnson is available, he is a intriguing enough of a prospect to take if a player you targeted is off the board.
Rick Jackson – PF, Syracuse, 6’9”, 240 lbs.
He is a bruising blue collar type big man. Led the Big East in rebounding, blocked shots and field goal percentage. He’s a very smart player, always putting himself in great position to get offensive rebounds, which he did at a very high level at Syracuse. He’s a very good passer for a big man as the offense was often run through him and he found cutting guards and open players on the perimeter when the double team came.
As good as his defensive game is, his offensive game is pretty limited and basic. He is ineffective offensively from outside of eight feet and his post moves consist of a lefty hook and a solid spin move, both of which he makes consistently. Rick is a guy the Spurs should take a long look at. His skills are immediately transferable to the NBA which are rebounding and having a high motor. He’s the type of second round pick that could stick in the league for 10 years.
Tobias Harris – SF, Tennessee, 6’8”, 225 lbs.
A very physically strong small forward who can defend the post but is skilled enough to take a defender off the dribble. He finishes very strong around the rim and has a nice array of shots he uses quite effectively inside 15 feet. Has a solid mid-range game but isn’t a very good three point shooter.
Defensively he lacks lateral quickness and at times had trouble defending athletic wing players at Tennessee. Against Connecticut, Jeremy Lamb was taking him off the dribble whenever he wanted. It got to the point they had to switch Tobias off him. He is 18 years old and still has tons of development ahead of him as a basketball player. Which is really intriguing considering he already has a good array of offensive skills. If he stayed in college for another year, he would have been a lottery pick and still could be one this year if someone reaches for him. He would be a extremely high value at pick 29 for the Spurs.