With the NBA Finals over (as well as the San Antonio Spurs' season), it's hard to remember the NBA Draft is just a few days away. While the San Antonio Spurs are now preparing for next season, there have obviously been other things keeping Gregg Popovich, and to a lesser extent, R.C. Buford's attention.
Aside from a handful of workouts, it feels like very little has come out about prospects the Spurs are targeting. Finally, something close to concrete is starting to come out about what the C.I.A. Spurs are planning. According to Alex Kennedy of Hoopsworld, San Antonio has their eye on French forward Livio Jean-Charles and he and Steve Kyler both have them taking him with their first round pick.
This makes a lot of sense, considering the Spurs have done this before and they have some of the best international scouts in the league. At 19 years old, Jean-Charles has a lot of potential and he could fit right in alongside fellow French players Tony Parker, Boris Diaw and Nando de Colo.
Here's what you need to know about Jean-Charles, besides the fact that he has a really cool name. He was born in French Guiana and moved to France at 14 to start his basketball career there. He's spent the last two seasons playing for Asvel in France, the team Tony Parker owns a minority stake in. The 6'9" Jean-Charles plays both forward positions for the team and sports a very impressive 7'2" wingspan. However, he doesn't play a ton of minutes. This season he averaged 3.3 points and 2.7 rebounds per game in just 13.8 minutes per game.
So why, given his minimal role overseas, would a team be so high on this guy that they're willing to spend a first round pick on him? The buzz around Jean-Charles started back at the Nike Hoop Summit in April when he picked up MVP honors by torching the USA Junior Select Team for 27 points and 13 rebounds. Jean-Charles told DraftExpress' Jonathan Givony he feels like there's a lot he can still improve on, specifically his ball handling and exchanging the range on what is already a decent mid-range jumper. What he excels at is running the floor and cutting to the basket off the ball. He's shown to be a willing defender and provide weakside help.
Jean-Charles' potential is everything the Spurs have been looking for. An athletic forward that can guard both positions and provide rim protection. If he can get stronger and learn to hit a mid-range jumper consistently, we're talking about a Darrell Arthur type player. As Kennedy notes, the plan would be to keep Jean-Charles in France for at least another year. However, given the team's current ownership, it doesn't seem like negotiating a buyout for him will be too difficult.
This pick makes perfect sense for the Spurs if it does indeed happen. If they draft him and keep him overseas for a year, he won't affect their salary cap space for the coming year and they'll be able to develop him in a program they're very familiar with. Still, it's best not to be too hasty with these predictions. The Spurs have shown us for pretty much the past 14 years that they're a tad bit unpredictable when it comes to the draft. Here's some video of Livio Jean-Charles to get you familiar with his skillset.