The NBA Draft has now officially come and gone. The San Antonio Spurs used all three of their first round picks while trading away pick 38 to the Memphis Grizzlies. While we could grade the picks, that is not necessarily the best way to describe how the Spurs did on Thursday night. We don’t know how well or how much these draftees might play and there is a chance they still could be moved. So we will hold off on the grading, but explore the possibilities and potential signaling from these picks.
With the ninth overall pick in the draft, the Spurs grabbed forward Jeremy Sochan out of Baylor. I happen to think this is an excellent pick and fits a major need and could be argued that he was the best player available on the board. To get a fuller idea of what Sochan might be, you can read his prospect profile from March. Aside from giving the Spurs a legitimate power forward, Sochan has been getting rave reviews as a potentially more athletic Boris Diaw. The former Bear just has to stay off the pastries and he should be just fine.
He’s going to have the chance to get major minutes immediately and could move Keldon Johnson to the small forward spot to give this team the rebounding it needs at each position. He can facilitate on offense, lock down on defense, and will have great hair while doing it.
While the ninth pick was seemingly a homerun, the 20th and 25th picks were something closer to a base hit or maybe a double. My opinion on this would probably be different if the Spurs had not taken fairly similar players at those picks. However, since both guys are 6-foot-5 combo guards who may need some more time, it is a bit confounding.
Malaki Branham at 20 has been lauded as a great value pick by several outlets, including ESPN’s Jay Bilas. He even called Branham “the biggest sleeper in the draft.” Wright had all three of the Spurs’ picks as guys who should go before 20 so he is surely feeling good about his haul. However, drafting Wesley after already grabbing Branham seems redundant. That would be the case unless the Spurs’ front office is signaling that they are ready to move on from a couple players in trades or free agency.
This team is relatively short right now and that might be something that Wright is doing intentionally since so many teams played smaller in the playoffs. However, this roster still doesn’t have enough players in the 6’7″ to 6’9″ range to go full switches on a lot of screens. More players in that range who are quick on their feet and can move well will give the Spurs major flexibility on switches and on defense. Look for the Spurs to address that need and another (listed below) in free agency or by the 2022-23 season’s trade deadline.
This draft almost certainly spells the end for Lonnie Walker IV as he will be set to walk in free agency anyway. It could also mean the team is willing to trade Devin Vassell or Johnson in return for future picks and/or veteran help. There is some time before free agency starts, so we will have to wait to find out if the Spurs plan on pursuing trades for Deandre Ayton and John Collins. Both of those players are the kind of guys who can give Dejounte Murray and the rest of this now-young core the talent upgrade it so desperately needs.