Spurs Prospect Watch: Daniel Gafford

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Mar 15, 2018; Detroit, MI, USA; Arkansas Razorbacks forward Daniel Gafford (10) calls for a ball during the practice day before the first round of the 2018 NCAA Tournament at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

The San Antonio Spurs are playing like a .500 team and that is reflected in their very even 10-10 record, which has them projected to make a pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. They are slotted at the No. 13 spot, which means they will have a shot at a lottery-level talent next year should they continue to play the way they are right now.

With that being said, there is a chance they get their act together in time and well enough that they can get back to the playoffs yet again. However, we’re going to make our projections as if they won’t because that gives us some variety in our prospects, not to mention that the Spurs will have a late first-rounder conveyed to them from the Toronto Raptors (assuming they keep winning).

This week’s prospect is 6-foot-11, 233-pound Arkansas big man Daniel Gafford, which is a name some might recognize since we covered him last season as well. He was expected to go pro after his freshman season, but stayed to improve his draft stock and it seems to be paying off. Here are his averages to start the 2018-19 season:

  • 19.2 PPG, 2 BPG, 1.2 SPG, 8 RPG
    • Per-40 – 27.8 PPG, 2.9 BPG, 1.7 SPG, 11.6 RPG
  • 72.5 FG%, 57.9 FT%, 109.1 ORtg, 80.2 DRtg

Gafford hasn’t changed a lot from last season other than the fact he’s become a bit more efficient and has better true shooting and effective field goal percentages. He’s still a great shot blocker, athletic big man and is a strong finisher around the basket. He’s probably gotten even better at that last feat considering his 12 percentage point jump in shooting percentage from last year and is still not taking too many jump shots.

The Razorback is also adept at scoring on the move and is an elite offensive rebounder; a trait most NBA teams would highly value. While he doesn’t space the floor like so many teams want, he has a good mix of post moves and can score on the block pretty well for his age. He would also be a fantastic dive man on the pick-and-roll as he has great hands and is a nice finisher at the rim.

While Gafford might be a great defender at his position — as evidenced by his defensive rating — he is not suited to guard anyone on the perimeter and could get beat off the dribble there often. So his versatility takes a hit in that regard, but as long as his role is made clear and he makes some strides this season in certain areas he will be alright. That includes taking care of the ball, passing better, fouling less and improving at the charity stripe. There are also times he relies too heavily on his raw athleticism rather than playing smartly so that will be something to keep an eye on as the season grows older as well.

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