With the NBA Draft just around the corner, the defending NBA Champion San Antonio Spurs are owners of the 30th, 58th, and 60th overall picks. The 58th overall pick comes from the Los Angeles Clippers, via New Orleans, for Curtis Jerrells, who never actually played in a regular season NBA game.
First, a look at the current state of the roster and their current contracts (rounded salaries):
Tony Parker (One year – 12.5 million)
Cory Joseph (One year – 2.13 million, 3.2 million qualifying offer)
Patty Mills (impending free agent)
Danny Green (One year – 4.025 million)
Manu Ginobili (One year – 7 million)
Marco Bellinelli (One year – 2.87 million)
Kawhi Leonard (One year – 3.05 million, 4.27 million qualifying offer)
Austin Daye (Team option 1.06 million)
Damion James (impending free agent)
Tim Duncan (One year – 10.3 million)
Boris Diaw (impending free agent)
Matt Bonner (impending free agent)
Jeff Ayres (One year – 1.83 million)
Tiago Splitter (Three years – 9.25, 8.5, 8.25 million)
Aron Baynes (1.11 million qualifying option)
Own Draft Rights (excluding players drafted before 2004):
Erazem Lorbek (2005)
Ryan Richards (2010)
Adam Hanga (2011)
Davis Bertans (2011)
Marcus Denmon (2012)
Livio Jean-Charles (2013)
Deshaun Thomas (2013)
Ryan Richards and Marcus Denmon, at this point, seem like nothing but summer league players, with a low possibility of being training camp players. Deshaun Thomas, only one year removed, will likely need more time to develop, but will most likely make an appearance in the summer league. If he plays well, Thomas could end up with a camp invite. Erazem Lorbek, at 30 years old, is still under contract until the summer of 2015, and will not make any appearances. Livio Jean-Charles, who sat out last season with a knee injury, will play for the Tony Parker owned ASVEL in France next season. Adam Hanga and Davis Bertans are the two players most likely to make the Spurs roster. Bertans, who returned to the court in March, was drafted by the Pacers in 2011 and was part of the Kawhi Leonard trade. Given the lack of depth behind Leonard, Bertans could make the jump. Adam Hanga, another wing, has progressed like the Spurs have hoped, and could see an opportunity come this summer.
Now that the current roster is understood, here are the NBA Draft Prospects:
Italicized: Will almost definitely be gone by the time the Spurs pick, barring a trade
Bold: How well that player would fit in the system or fit a need for now or the future
*: Rumored to have worked out for the team
**: Rumored to have interviewed with the team
Dante Exum, Australia (SG) (6-6, 196) 4.5/5
Exum is a big guard who can play at either spot. Very versatile and athletic, and will likely go in the top five.
Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State (6-3, 227) 2.5/5
Smart does not possess a great deep ball, but he is very strong guard with great instincts. Shoving fan incident could scare a couple teams.
Tyler Ennis, Syracuse (6-2, 180) 3.5/5
Ennis is a very mature player who’s overall pretty good at everything. This will most likely transition well to the pros.
**Elfrid Payton, Louisiana-Lafayette (6-4, 185) 3/5
Great at getting in the lane and finishing, but Payton always seems to finish with his right hand, no matter what side he is on.
**Shabazz Napier, Connecticut (6-0, 175) 4.5/5
Just like Kemba Walker before him, Napier is a leader and has a knack for knocking down big shots. His size could hurt him at the next level.
Jordan Clarkson, Missouri (SG) (6-4, 186) 3/5
Clarkson is very good at getting to the rim and finishing, but struggled from outside. Athletic guard, who can play both spots, but played mostly point at Mizzou.
Vasilje Micic, Serbia (6-6, 202) 4.5/5
Using his size, Micic has great court vision and is one of the best passers in the draft. However, his athleticism is below average and he is not the greatest outside shooter (29%).
*Semaj Christon, Xavier (6-3, 186) 2.5/5
Christon plays with a very high energy level and will be a good perimeter defender a la Avery Bradley, but is still learning how to run a team.
Jahii Carson, Arizona State (5-11, 180) 2/5
Pound-for-pound and inch-for-inch, Carson is the best athlete in the draft. One the quickest in the draft, as well, but lacks size and deep shooting. Best case scenario is a Nate Robinson spark type.
*Russ Smith, Louisville (SG) (6-1, 160) 1/5
One of the top scorers in the nation for the 2013 Champion Louisville Cardinals, but that’s just it. Smith’s size is for a point guard, but he has little to zero point guard skills. It’ll be tough for him to make it in the league.
Deonte Burton, Nevada (6-1, 193) 2/5
Burton possesses NBA athleticism, but red flags include distributing the ball, outside shooting, and leading a team to victories (Nevada was over .500 in just one of his seasons)
Keith Appling, Michigan State (SG) (6-1, 180) 3/5
A smart, but simple player. Appling does everything well, but nothing too great. His point guard play is effective when kept to the basics of the game.
*Bryce Cotton, Providence (6-0, 165) (SG) 3.5/5
Leading to his team to a Big East title, Cotton led the Big East in assists and was second in scoring. Lacks ideal size, but could be a steal late in the draft.
DeAndre Kane, Iowa State (SG) (6-4, 200) 2/5
Kane is a strong and aggressive guard, but will be 25 years old by the time the draft starts. It’s hard to get drafted at that age, but Kane could be a very solid backup in the league if he is given the chance.
Aaron Craft, Ohio State (6-2, 192) 4.5/5
Craft lacks the size and athleticism to be an NBA point guard, but has the highest basketball IQ of anyone in the draft. Craft is also an excellent defender, but then can’t shoot the ball.
Xavier Thames, San Diego State (SG) (6-3, 187) 2/5
Thames is a good pull-up shooter, and has shown the ability to knock down shots with a hand in his face. However, he lacks point guard skills, so will most likely need to be a two guard at the next level.
*Scottie Wilbekin, Florida (6-3, 170) 4/5
Wilbekin can run the show as well as any point guard in this class. In addition, he is a fantastic defender. However, many scouts feel he has reached his potential and isn’t the most dangerous of scorers.
*Billy Baron, Canisius (6-2, 192) 2.5/5
Baron, a more unknown prospect, played for Canisius for his father. He has been known to take over games, even in his earlier seasons at Virginia and Rhode Island, and change his style of play (distributor or scorer) at the drop of a hat. His 25 points and five assists average put him on the NBA map.
Considering point guards, my guess is that the Spurs don’t draft one unless a bona fide player falls to them. However, if the Spurs feel Patty Mills may bolt during free agency, they could take a chance on one. Many mock drafts have the Spurs nabbing Vasilje Micic out of Serbia, because of his passing ability and court visions. Those qualities fit perfectly in Spurs basketball, and Chip Engelland could fix up his jumper. The top four point guards (Exum, Smart, Ennis, and Payton) will be long gone unless the Spurs trade up, and Shabazz Napier will also most likely be gone. Napier would be a good replacement for Mills, shall the Aussie depart San Antonio. With that in mind, players like Wilbekin, Craft, and Cotton would be great late-draft fliers that the Spurs could stash away and work on due to their work ethic and high basketball IQ’s. If anyone on the Spurs roster gets traded on draft night, it will most likely be Cory Joseph, due to his status as third point guard and 3 million dollar qualifying offer coming, which could also open up a point guard spot.
Zach LaVine, UCLA (PG) (6-6, 180) 5/5
LaVine is one the most explosive guards in the country. He will be a tough cover with his height, athleticism, and ability to score from anywhere on the floor. He’s only 19, so his ability is only just scratching the surface. If he puts on some weight and improves his IQ, he could be a perennial All-Star.
Nik Stauskas, Michigan (6-6, 207) 4/5
Stauskas is the best shooter in the draft, hands down. He has the same concerns that JJ Redick had when he was entering the NBA, defending the athletic NBA guards, and converting shooting to scoring.
Gary Harris, Michigan State (6-4, 205) 4/5
Extremely polished for a sophomore, Harris is a solid contributor is all aspects of the game. The only knock on him is his height, which is a tad bit small for a two guard.
James Young, Kentucky (SF) (606, 215) 4/5
Young intrigues scouts as a great shooter with natural height and wingspan for the position. He can improve on spots of his game, but has tons of room to grow.
Jordan Adams, UCLA (6-5, 209) 3/5
Adams is a scorer, but he is not the most athletic guard. He is aggressive on both ends to find the ability to score on the offensive end. His mid-range game is one the best in the draft.
CJ Wilcox, Washington (6-5, 201) 3/5
Wilcox is one of the top shooters in the draft, but didn’t develop into an all-around scorer. Many of his threes were actually shot from NBA range. His defense is inconsistent.
Spencer Dinwiddie, Colorado (PG) (6-6, 205) 2/5
Dinwiddie is currently recovering from an ACL injury, but was an offensive threat, leading Colorado to an impressive start before getting injured. Question is whether he is a tall point guard or shooting guard.
P.J. Hairston, North Carolina (6-5, 228) 1.5/5
Hairston already has some professional experience, playing in the D-League after getting kicked off the Tar Heels. If he learned from his mistakes and consistently brings effort, he could be a good bench scorer from all parts of the floor.
*Markel Brown, Oklahoma State (6-4, 185) 1.5/5
Brown entered college basketball and was immediately one of the top athletes. His leaping ability is one of the best in the draft, and he has improved his shooting over his four years. His size and ball-handling bring his stock down.
Bogdan Bogdanovic, Serbia (6-6, 205) 2/5
Bogdanovic uses his length to be a pesky defender. That and his size are his two biggest attributes. Everything else he does is about average, so he could struggle to find a niche in the NBA.
Nick Johnson, Arizona (6-3, 198) 3/5
Johnson was the leader of the Wildcats, one of the best teams in the nation. Johnson is very solid at everything he does, offensively and defensively. His big issue is his height. Many shooting guards at that size struggle to make it in the league.
Jordan McRae, Tennessee (6-5, 180) 2.5/5
Given his great wingspan (7’0) and scoring ability, McRae is an intriguing prospect. He is razor thin, but has the ability to score from multiple spots on the floor. His length is used to his advantage on both ends of the floor. An improved consistency could carve him out a solid career.
Andre Dawkins, Duke (6-5, 205) 1/5
Dawkins is pretty much just a spot-up shooter. He is outstanding at that, but can’t create for himself or others off the dribble. If he makes it in the NBA, it’ll be solely as a three-point threat.
Sean Kilpatrick, Cincinnati (6-4, 220) 2.5/5
Kilpatrick was the fourth highest scorer in all the major conferences last season. However, it wasn’t very efficient. His height and weak defense also deter him from being picked higher. If he improves his efficiency, scoring will come easy.
Alessandro Gentile, Italy (SF) (6-7, 230) 4/5
Gentile lacks athleticism and muscles. Physically, he may struggle with stronger wings, but, at 6-7, has ideal, if not advantageous size for a two guard. His complete offensive game will give him a real shot at the next level.
Lamar Patterson, Pittsburgh (SF) (6-5, 225) 2.5/5
Limited athletically, Patterson makes up for it with hustle, strength, and his wingspan. Patterson plays with control, is a solid passer, has a high basketball IQ, but just doesn’t seem athletic enough to score against NBA frontlines.
Roy Devyn Marble, Iowa (6-6, 192) 2.5/5
Marble scores in all sorts of different ways, but lacks athleticism and possesses an awkward shooting stroke.
Nemanja Dangubic, Serbia (6-8, 195) 3.5/5
Dangubic is an athletic swingman who has improved his jumper over the last few years. However, his ball handling needs to be improved in order to get to the rim and finish like he is known to do.
Jabari Brown, Missouri (6-4, 215) 1.5/5
Brown is bona fide scorer, especially from outside. However, that is all about all he can do. His height also hurts his chances at making an NBA roster.
Marshall Henderson, Ole Miss (6-2, 175). 5/5
The Johnny Manziel of college basketball is quite the head case, and did not really score at efficient rate, despite the high scoring average. He will most likely go undrafted, but will get invited to a camp somewhere.
The Spurs are more than content with their shooting guard rotation. With Green, Ginobili, Belinelli, and even Mills in two point guard sets taking up all the minutes, it logically does not make sense to draft a shooting guard unless it is for the future when the Argentinian hangs up the sneakers. That being said, Bogdanovic or Nick Johnson could be possible targets in the first round, while Gentile and Dangubic could be one of the last two picks. All four of the above names would likely be stashed in Europe.
Andrew Wiggins, Kansas (6-8, 200) 5/5
He’s in a Drake song. Pretty much sums up where he’s supposed to be drafted. Athletic freak, who is likely to be the top overall pick.
Jabari Parker, Duke (6-9, 240) 5/5
Parker has the ability to score all over the floor. His face up game is as polished as anybody in the draft. Parker has the height to also be a stretch four for a team. Only knock on him is his defense and how it will translate to the next level.
Rodney Hood, Duke (6-8, 208) 4.5/5
Another great scorer from Duke, Hood is more of a shooter than his highly-touted counterpart. Most of his scoring came from shooting, which he converted at a high percentage. Length and his lack of free throw attempts are his knocks.
T.J. Warren, NC State (6-8, 220) 4/5
Warren is another impressive scorer. He always seems to be in the right position, whether he’s putting himself in a good spot to score or rebounding. His biggest weakness is his lateral quickness and athleticism.
Dario Saric, Croatia (PF) (6-10, 225) 4.5/5
Saric is a Europen-style player in every sense of the phrase. He has molded himself into a “point forward” with great court vision and rebounding. His athleticism and three-point shooting could use some work, but he definitely looks to be of the Boris Diaw feel. Saric recently signed a two year deal, with a third year option, to play in Europe, dropping his stock down to the lower teens.
**Kyle Anderson, UCLA (PG) (6-9, 230) 4/5
Being a 6-9 point guard definitely has its perks. Kind of like Jalen Rose back in the day, Anderson could be playing both small forward and some point guard in the pros. His length and ability to run an offense are great, but lacks foot speed and athleticism.
K.J. McDaniels, Clemson (6-6, 196), 3.5/5
Still a raw prospect, McDaniels is ultra-athletic and uses that skill on offense and defense. Once he works on is shooting, McDaniels could be a very solid role player as a defender and hustle player.
LaQuinton Ross, Ohio State (6-8, 240) 2.5/5
Ross has the natural ability. His shooting and scoring touch are as good as anyone in the draft. His big issue is his motor and attitude. With his length and shooting touch, he should be toward the top. He just seems nonchalant at times, especially on defense, hurting his stock.
Doug McDermott, Creighton (6-7, 220) 3.5/5
Creighton put together the 5th best scoring career of all-time in college basketball, and it’s no fluke. He has the right attitude, along with the ability to score from anywhere. Only his athleticism, on both ends, are his red flags.
*Cleanthony Early, Wichita State (PF) (6-7, 210) 4/5
Early, despite being dubbed a tweener, doesn’t seem to hurt his draft stock unlike other tweeners. Essentially, it’s because he is productive at both spots and learned to play both well. Early has a natural feel for scoring, mainly from midrange, but does have deep ball capability. He needs to improve his dribbling off of the 3-point line to keep defenses honest.
*Glenn Robinson III, Michigan (6-7, 211) 2/5
Robinson, son of All-Star, and former Spur, Glenn Robinson, entered college basketball as a highly touted player. He has the body and physical tools to be a good player on both ends of the floor, but hasn’t put it together with passiveness and inconsistency.
Jerami Grant, Syracuse (6-8, 214) 2.5/5
Grant is a high-energy player who contributes however way he’s needed to. This could turn into a situation, due to his energy, wingspan (7-3) and length, where Grant becomes a stretch four down the line in his NBA career. He has a lot of little things to work on, but does work hard to correct his game.
DeAndre Daniels, Connecticut (6-8, 195) 3/5
Daniels was one of the big leaders on UConn’s national title run this past season. He is thin and raw still, but was clutch in big situations throughout the tournament. His length and outside touch are his biggest strengths.
*Thanasis Antetokounmpo, Greece (6-6, 205) 3.5/5
Older brother of Milwuakee’s “Greek Freak”, Antetokounmpo has been dubbed a defensive stopper. He currently struggles offensively, but has potential as a shooter and slasher. By the time the draft arrives on Thursday, Antetokounmpo will have worked out for half of the NBA teams.
C.J. Fair, Syracuse (6-8, 218) 1.5/5
Fair took over lead scoring duty for the Orange last season, but he seems like the kind of guy who needs a larger amount of shots to get his. He is a bit of a tweener in terms of what kind of player he can guard on defense. He is a solid perimeter shooter, and he’s a lefty, which is always a plus.
Josh Huestis, Stanford (6-7, 213) 2/5
Defensively, Huestis is a very solid prospect. He doesn’t jump off the page statistically by any means, but scouts see potential in many different game aspects. His shooting ability has been steadily improving.
Joe Harris, Virginia (SG) (6-6, 215) 2/5
Harris was the leader of the Cavalier’s team that locked up a number one seed in the NCAA tournament. He is highly efficient, has a very high basketball IQ, and a good shooter. Athletically, he is not so gifted. Making it in the NBA for Harris depends on how he translates his strengths.
Ioannis Papapetrou, Greece (6-8, 233) 3/5
Papapetrou, the former Longhorn, returned to Greece to play professionally. The results were good for him and the club. He is a top-flight spot-up shooter and has the size and length to contribute in many other ways. He isn’t the quickest of forwards, but competes defensively, making up for his shortcomings just a little bit.
Fuquan Edwin, Seton Hall (SG) (6-6, 210) 3/5
With the most steals in Seton Hall history, Edwin picked up Defensive Player of the Year in the Big East. Edwin is quick and that helps him pick up steals on defense. He is a very hot/cold shooter. Sometimes he goes off for over 20 points, and other nights he’ll score in single digits. Consistency will be key for him.
Viktor Gaddefors, Sweden (6-8, 218) 1.5/5
Gaddefors has the physical tools as an explosive athlete and aggressiveness to compete. He lacks length, but still has good size for a small forward. Gaddefors finishes nicely, even through contact, at the rim, but struggles outside.
*Ojars Silins, Latvia (6-9, 210) 3/5
Silins began his pro career as a stretch four, but has since transitioned to the small forward game. He is a very solid shooter from outside (40%) and plays smart basketball, not turning the ball over. He isn’t the most athletic guy and lacks quickness on defense.
Melvin Ejim, Iowa State (6-6, 220) 2.5/5
Ejim is definitely more of a college style player than he is pro style. Ejim had great scoring instincts. Being named Big 12 Player of the Year is no laughing matter, so he has the talent. Ejim just needs to learn how to translate all his talents into the pro game.
Jakarr Sampson, St. John’s (6-8, 207) 1.5/5
Sampson needs to improve his decision-making and add some bulk, but shows some promise as a scorer with versatility. He isn’t great with an outside shot, a skill almost every perimeter player in the NBA has now.
Damien Inglis, France (PF) (6-9, 240) 4/5
Interestingly enough, Inglis was rumored to drop out of the draft, only to change his mind days later and remain. My guess is he got that promise that would keep him in the first round, where he wanted to be, and where he felt he wasn’t when he dropped out. That promise could come at the end of the first round. His combination of size and physical skills are what makes Inglis an intriguing prospect.
*Cameron Clark, Oklahoma (6-6, 210) 2.5/5
Clark is not projected to be drafted by most mock drafts, but did participate in a private workout with the Spurs. Clark shot 43% from distance, a very solid number and rebounded at a good rate for a small forward.
If any player in this draft is going to make an immediate impact for the Spurs this coming season, it will most likely be a small forward. There is a need there as Kawhi Leonard’s backup. Bertans is an option, but his status is still up in the air. My rating system has a lot of small forwards rating high, and there is good reason. During the championships era, the small forwards for the San Antonio Spurs have all been huge x-factors. The best have been defenders who have learned to shoot. Bowen. Leonard. Elliott. Jackson. This draft is littered with candidates who fit that mold (Inglis, Edwin, Antetokounmpo, McDaniels, Early, Anderson). If the Spurs truly want to fill that small forward position this season, this is the draft to do that. However, two of their top international prospects (Bertans and Jean-Charles) are both small forwards. Given Leonard’s youth as well, the Spurs may feel they have enough future depth there.
Julius Randle, Kentucky (6-9, 250) 4/5
Randle is a guy ready to produce. His upside is low, but that’s because he’s already performing with that bull attitude. His rebounding numbers are fantastic and scores with contact frequently.
Noah Vonleh, Indiana (6-9, 247) 4.5/5
Unlike Randle, Vonleh is more of a project that will take some years to develop, as he is only 18. He has ideal size for the position and has a nice shooting touch. He could prove to be very dangerous in pick and roll and pick and pop situations.
Aaron Gordon, Arizona (6-9, 220) 3.5/5
Gordon is the youngest prospect in the draft. He is ultra-athletic and plays with a high motor, but needs to improve his offensive game and add some pounds.
Adreian Payne, Michigan State (6-10, 240) 4.5/5
Payne is an older prospect, spending all four years improving his game at Michigan State. Payne is a very impressive outside shooter for his size (42%) and a force on the glass. He has issues with lung capacity, which may reduce his minutes, and has not used all his athleticism to his advantage yet.
Clint Capela, Switzerland (C) (6-11, 222) 2/5
Capela is a big project. Athletically, he is one of the most gifted players to come out of Europe. He can run the floor and finish above the rim with the best of them, but doesn’t really have a sense with what’s going on around him. If he gets to understanding the game, he could be dangerous.
*Jarnell Stokes, Tennessee (6-8, 260) 4/5
Stokes is essentially like DeJuan Blair. Although he is a bit bigger than him, he is still a bit undersized for the position. One of the best rebounders in the country, Stokes plays with tenacity. Stokes is a bit more of a team player than Blair.
James Michael McAdoo, North Carolina (6-9, 230) 1.5/5
McAdoo is one of the most puzzling prospects. All the tools are there. He was hyped up coming into college and freshman year. He just can’t seem to put it all together.
*Patric Young, Florida (C) (6-10, 247) 2/5
Young looks like a professional body builder, and uses that physique to his advantage. His defense and rebounding are well above average. However, he is very limited offensively.
*Johnny O’Bryant, LSU (C) (6-8, 257) 2/5
O’Bryant is a nice scorer from various areas on the floor. He is turnover prone, but has worked hard on correcting his weaknesses. Being coachable is a good quality to have, and O’Bryant has it. Defensively, he is below average, stuck in the middle of two positions.
Cory Jefferson, Baylor (6-9, 220) 1.5/5
Jefferson is another athletic big man. Just by looking at him, he seems like he belongs in the NBA. He has improved his range during his Baylor days, but still needs a lot of work on his offensive game. He isn’t the best defender, but can block shots at an effective rate.
Khem Birch, UNLV (6-9, 209) 3/5
Birch’s calling card is his shot blocking. With a gigantic wingspan (7-1) and vertical (35.5 inch) he can quickly get to a ball in the air, both on rebound and shot attempts. If he can improve his offensive game, which is limited right now, he can be a solid prospect.
Shayne Whittington, Western Michigan (6-11, 245) 1.5/5
Whittington suffered a major leg injury last month and that likely sidelined his chances on getting drafted. In order to make the NBA, he will most likely have to rehab and build his way up in Europe.
Akil Mitchell, Virginia (6-8, 229) 3/5
Mitchell’s biggest qualities are his rebounding and team defense. Because he is not the tallest of prospects, Mitchell has to use his athleticism to do what he does best. Offensively, he has a lot of work to do.
*Cameron Bairstow, New Mexico (6-10, 252) 2/5
Being an average athlete and below the rim player, Bairstow makes up for it with hustle. He forces his man to get physical and frequently gets to the free throw line, where he is successful. Bairstow is also a good mid range shooter, but his game may not convert well to the pros.
Mike Moser, Oregon (SF) (6-8, 204) 1/5
Moser played for Oregon, UCLA, and UNLV throughout his college career. His best chance at making the NBA lies in his ability to stretch the floor, whether it’s at either forward position. His defense and tweener status will hurt his draft stock, but his versatility is intriguing.
Cristiano Felicio, Brazil (C) (6-9, 240) 3/5
Felicio is a bruiser from Brazil. He rebounds effectively and uses his strength and athleticism to score the ball. He could work on his range a little bit, and struggles to find a spot between the two post positions.
Maximilian Kleber, Germany (6-10, 211) 2.5/5
Kleber is a jump shooting big. On the flip side of that, he struggles to hold his own in the post, especially against physical bigs.
Juvonte Reddic, VCU (6-9, 250) 1/5
Reddic doesn’t have the size to be an NBA bigman, and he doesn’t really play like one either. He plays like a 3, but lacks speed to play out there. Ultimately, it seems like not having a position will fail him.
Eric Moreland, Oregon State (6-10, 224) 2.5/5
Moreland had a somewhat disappointing college career, but recently has really impressed at workouts. His hustle and IQ have hindered his talent in the past. Scoring and defense haven’t been the problem. If he can put it all together, he could very well make it in the NBA.
Dwight Powell, Standford (6-11, 235) 2.5/5
Powell smoothly moves all over the floor, finding room to operate. Given his size and talents, he hasn’t consistently improved like many thought he would. He could find that fire and become a great post, at both positions.
Tarik Black, Kansas (6-8, 253) 2/5
Black has every athletic tool that NBA teams look for. However, he never seemed to make a significant impact on his games in college. If he figures it out, paired with his athleticism, Black can be a great role player.
Adreian Payne would fit tremendously in the Spurs system and would be a great replacement shall Bonner leave. He is a more gifted rebounder with better physical tools. The Spurs would have to trade up and make some magic to get him. Jarnell Stokes could also be a great fit in the first round. Gordon, Vonleh, and Randle will all be top ten picks. Some of the better defensive players (Mitchell, Birch, Young) could be good picks at the end of the draft to try and let their offensive game develop in Europe.
Joel Embiid, Kansas (7-0, 250) 4.5/5
Embiid is the cornerstone big man every team longs for. However, he has three different injuries in just a short 4 years of playing basketball. This will cause him to slip.
Jusuf Nurkic, Bosnia and Herzegovina (6-11, 280) 3.5/5
Nurkic’s size and frame are his biggest strengths. His game is based on his strength, using it for rebounding and scoring. His athleticism is below average and needs more time to develop discipline on the floor.
*Walter Tavares, Spain (7-3, 260) 4/5
Tavares just signed a three-year deal to keep playing ball in Europe. He is a giant with good mobility. Giving him more time to develop In Europe will be a good thing for him and most ball clubs.
Mitch McGary, Michigan (6-10, 266) 3/5
McGary hasn’t played a lot of basketball. Once touted as a lottery pick, injuries dropped him and off-court incidents pushed him into the draft. He is a playmaker on the offensive end and could develop into a solid team player.
Alec Brown, Wisconsin Green Bay (PF) (7-1, 231) 2.5/5
Brown is actually one of the best shooters in the draft. Combine that with his height and he makes for an interesting prospect. However, he really lacks the physical strength and will struggle in the post against bigger opponents. Defense can also be improved.
Isaiah Austin, Baylor (PF) (7-1, 220)
Breaking news on Austin. He has been diagnosed with Marfan Syndrome and his basketball days are over. Really tough break for the kid hoping to have his name called. Adam Silver has done the right thing and invited him to the draft.
*Artem Klimenko, Russia (7-0, 245) 3/5
Klimenko is solid in pick and roll sets. His mobility and soft hands are perfect for that play. He has a nice shooting touch, but is very skinny, lacks explosiveness and needs to improve his rebounding mechanics.
Jordan Bachynski, Arizona State (7-2, 248) 2/5
Bachynski is long with a solid wingspan. He commands the defense as one of the best shot blockers in the country. Bachynski is a below average rebounder and, in college, camped out in the paint; a move that is not allowed in the NBA.
Ondrej Balvin, Czech Republic (7-2, 280) 1/5
Balvin has a massive frame, but with that comes a lack of mobility. Balvin will most likely make a career in Europe, but he still is a prospect to watch.
Sim Bhullar, New Mexico State (7-5, 360) 1/5
Yes, you read that right. 7-5. Bhullar is a giant, and for that reason alone, intrigues NBA teams. He needs to work on his consistency.
There is only one true franchise center in this draft. Embiid will be gone way before the Spurs select at 30. There are some intriguing prospects that the Spurs could pick and stash overseas for a few seasons. The best matches, in my opinion, are McGary and Klimenko, who are both solid in the pick and roll game, and Tavares who is guaranteed to have another 3 seasons overseas to develop. McGary and Tavares will both be gone before the Spurs pick at the end of the draft.
In this day and age, it’s hard for a prospect to be truly unknown by everyone in the NBA. That being said, I would be very surprised if a new San Antonio Spur is not on this list. Then again, it is the San Antonio Spurs, so who knows where they will find the next gem. Whoever the Spurs decide to draft probably won’t be an impact for a few seasons, especially if the second round. Although, given how deep this draft is, a very quality player could slip and make the Spurs roster from day one.
It’s impossible to decipher every detail of a draft, especially with trades being involved. However, here’s me going out on a limb and attempting to pick the Spurs’ brains.
Round 1 (Pick 30): Walter Tavares
Round 2 (Pick 58): Ojars Silins
Round 2 (Pick 60): Patric Young
Round 1 (Pick 30): Damien Inglis
Round 2 (Pick 58): Khem Birch
Round 2 (Pick 60): Bryce Cotton
Keep checking Project Spurs for updates as we draw closer to the NBA Draft this Thursday, the 26th.