The San Antonio Spurs are primed to pick late in the first round of the 2018 NBA Draft. Thanks to some key pickups in the offseason and a couple of nice draft picks, the Spurs are in good shape for another postseason run. However, it’s never too early to look forward to the next draft and get prepared by being on the lookout for potential Spurs picks. That brings us to this week’s Spurs Prospect Watch.
This week features Wisconsin redshirt junior Ethan Happ, who may very well win Big Ten Player of the Year and should be in the discussion for the National Player of the Year. However, there’s one big reason why he might find himself falling to the Spurs late; he pretty much can’t shoot anywhere outside the paint. He can get almost any shots he wants in the paint and was able to get buckets despite the fact that teams knew that’s exactly what he would do.
Here are his 2016-17 stats:
- 14 PPG, 9 RPG, 2.8 APG in 27.9 minutes per game
- 58.6 FG%, 50.0 FT% 1.2 BPG
- 86.5 DRtg, 116.5 ORtg
His shooting percentage is incredible considering that he warranted double teams in the post and his game was predictable. The 6-foot-10, 235-pound forward will have to prove that he can step out and at least make a mid-range shot consistently or even just shoot a higher percentage at the charity stripe if he wants serious first-round consideration. Teams just can’t take a guy with that size and an inability to stretch the floor at all.
However, if he continues to get even better in the post and can command double teams at the NBA level, he might be just fine. He will have to learn how to pass out of the post a little better, but his 2.8 assists a game last season were not a bad start and show he’s at least willing to get rid of the ball when he doesn’t have an advantage in his familiar area around the rim. If he has good shooters around him — which he should in the NBA — then it won’t be an issue. Playing him with a lineup that features only one shooter or even just two will be difficult though as spacing will be sparse.
Happ is solid defensively as of now, but he is usually defending the biggest and slowest guy on the court. He will have to prove that he can guard today’s stretch-4s and stay in front on drives from them. He’s a high IQ kind of player and has improved after each of his seasons and he even won the conference’s freshman of the year award, so those are great steps being taken on his part. He’ll just need to continue on that path and he would be a perfect fit for the Spurs.