The San Antonio Spurs have been struggling a bit to really get this season going, but got a huge confidence booster with a win over the Golden State Warriors on Sunday night, but lost to the New Orleans Pelicans on Monday night to put them at 8-8. That will likely change quite a bit over the course of the season once Lonnie Walker comes back and the team gets used to seeing more of Derrick White as well. However, their second first-round pick is a little more stable right now as it will be conveyed from the Raptors who are likely to have one of the better records in the league this season.
That means the Spurs will more likely than not have one of the last three or four picks in the first round. And that brings us to this week’s prospect to watch out for in UCLA forward Kris Wilkes. The 6-foot-8, 215-pound sophomore did not play a very big role for the Bruins last year as Aaron Holiday was the focal point of the offense. With so many injuries and departures this season, Wilkes has become the go-to option and he’s showing why deserves the designation. Here are his numbers four games into the season:
- 17.5 PPG, 1 SPG, 2.5 APG, 5.5 RPG (in 31.5 minutes per game)
- 33.7 3P%, 43.3 FG%, 67.1 FT%
- 17.9 PER, 107.9 ORtg, 108.7 DRtg
The UCLA forward has good size and a solid wingspan (about 6-foot-10) to play well on defense at the next level. He uses those long arms to disrupt passing lanes and to obscure the passer’s vision pretty well. He works hard getting through screens and is quick for his size, which should allow him to guard small forwards at the next level. He can have lapses from time to time, but that can be alleviated with the Spurs staff getting a handle on it early.
Wilkes is a solid enough shooter at all three levels, but will need to improve his three-point shooting a bit as his sophomore season has seen him slump a bit in that area. He’s also become more than a spot-up shooter though, which helps explains that dip in shooting percentage. He may need to tweak his mechanics a bit as he doesn’t get much lift on his jump shot and his shot looks a touch awkward.
This particular wingman isn’t an especially good ball handler, but he has enough control to get by his man often. And when he does, he has good burst to get to the rim finish close to it each time. He has good vertical explosiveness, finishes well at the rim and finishes strong there to boot. Wilkes is definitely at his best on the move, but can also score in the post on smaller defenders as he has a few good moves to use.
The versatility of Wilkes will ultimately be the factor in him getting real NBA minutes. He can defend multiple positions and play two different positions on offense as well. He’s a solid enough rebounder, good athlete and should make a strong case to get drafted in the first round of 2019’s NBA Draft. He’ll have to improve his ball handling a bit, become a more consistent shooter and work on his passing this season as he takes on a bigger role for the Bruins.