By Benjamin Bornstein and Evan Townsend
While the Spurs do have a chance of landing a top 3 draft pick, there is still the possibility they slip down and fall in the early to mid lottery. Let’s look at some of the NCAA prospects our writer Ben Bornstein has been keeping an eye on
The 6-foot-11, 250-pound freakish athlete is turning heads this season. Everyone knew him and Emoni Bates was going to be a deadly combo for the Memphis Tigers this season, but I’m not sure people knew just how good Jalen Duren was going to be. He’s averaging about 13 points, almost four blocks, and about nine rebounds a game.
He has a motor that never quits and an NBA-ready body without a doubt. He protects the rim, boards the ball, and gives his team extra possessions. He is also incredibly young as he reclassified to the 2021 class so he could go pro earlier. So while his offensive game is raw, there is time to develop it as he has shown signs of shooting in the mid-range a little bit.
Standing at 6-foot-8 and 205 pounds, Kendall Brown is looking more and more like a one-and-done freshman for Baylor. He’s strong and actually passes much better than people thought he would coming out of high school. He’s darn near unstoppable in transition and rarely makes a bad decision.
He’s been a key contributor on a tough Baylor team and has made some magic on defense where he’s highly switchable and has active hands. He’s averaged better than a steal a game and is shooting over 70% from the floor with the caveat that he is a low-volume three-point shooter. He will have to rebound the ball a little better, but one of the reasons he doesn’t have a higher number there is that the Bears all attack the boards together.
Keegan Murray is 6-foot-8 and 215 pounds and has already made a major jump from his freshman season. He’s averaging over 27 points compared to just seven last year. He’s also shooting 36% from beyond the arc and is still somehow shooting about 62% (at the time of this writing before the stats were averaged from the UVA game) so the efficiency has been unreal to start the season.
He’s got a plus wingspan and moves well out on the perimeter. He rebounds well too and really just does everything at a solid level. He is a master of none, but a jack-of-all-trades who should help a team out immediately when he’s drafted.
Still not sold on some of these guys? Let’s get to look at some international prospects that our Evan Townsend feels be an ideal fit for the Spurs
Yes, you read it right. Nikola Jovic, a 6’10 wing currently playing for in the Adriatic League in Serbia. At only 18 years old, Jović is truly a special talent. One of the more skilled teenagers that has suited up for a FIBA club in recent years. While he isn’t the most athletic and doesn’t have the quickest feet, Jović has one of the deepest offensive bags for someone his size, an amazing basketball IQ and in my opinion, would fit perfectly in the Spurs system.
While some scouts are worried about him on the defense side, his work ethic and growth throughout the season, on top of showcasing true leadership on an older, veteran-heavy team shows me that he’s willing to put in the work and could easily shoot up draft boards as many have him going anywhere in the mid to late 1st round. Dare I say a better version of Luka Samanic? That will actually live up to the hype? Too soon? I digress…A taller and more system accumulated Gordon Hayward is what I could see Jović turn out to be in the years to come.
One of the few true point forward prospects that will more than likely declare for the 2022 NBA Draft. Ousmane Dieng is without a doubt one of the more unique prospects in this year’s class. Standing at 6’9 and reportedly last weighing in at 185 pounds, Dieng is rather thin for his size but his frame along with his euro-style like craftiness puts him in the same category as another former NBL teenage phenom, that being Josh Giddey.
The French-born 18-year-old has an amazing feel for the game on offense. In my opinion, he’s one of if not the best playmakers in this class. Having the ability to find and hit his teammate at the right opportunity for an open three as well as his timing on a flashy dump down to his post man puts him in an elite category for someone his size.
However, he’s not gonna blow by you, he doesn’t have the quickest feet, he needs to work on his pull-up jumper and establish his offensive game. He thrives when he angles his way through the lane, utilizing his 6’11 wingspan to stretch over or around defenders but when his opponents shut that down he often can look lost. He isn’t having the most impressive season thus far but look for turn things around sooner rather than later as the season progresses.
After a late scratch from the 2021 draft, Roko Prkacin is back on big boards all across the web, climbing up the charts as many believe this Croatian-born 19-year-old could be a 1st round lock in the 2022 NBA draft. Standing at 6’9, Prkacin is comfortable playing both forward positions, is balanced on both sides of the floor, an outstanding shot-blocker, with insane defensive instincts. He’ll flourish as a system player in the league coming around the baseline, setting screens in pick and pop scenarios, but look for Prkacin to continue to impress scouts by showcasing his shot-creating and playmaking ability throughout the season as he truly has stepped up for his team as of late.
He won’t blow you away with his athleticism, he’s still a very raw prospect with much to establish, granted why he pulled himself out of last year’s draft. But look for Prkacin stock to continue to grow as many believe he could fit in with any team and become an established veteran for years to come.
The best comparison I’ve seen thus far that I completely agree with after assessing his game would be a mix of a less athletic Rudy Gay with flashes of T.J Warren. Look for Prkacin to continue to make a name for himself in his home country in the ABA League and soon to submit his name in the 2022 NBA Draft