Spurs Prospect Watch: Thomas Welsh

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LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 03: Thomas Welsh #40 of the UCLA Bruins and Bryce Alford #20 celebrate a lead over the Kentucky Wildcats after a timeout during the first half at Pauley Pavilion on December 3, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

The San Antonio Spurs’ season is well under way now and the expectation is that they will make the playoffs yet again. That means another pick should be coming in the later end of the first round in 2018. And that means we have plenty of scouting to do before we get there, so we can be informed about who the Spurs should select with their pick.

That leads us to this week’s prospect in UCLA senior center Thomas Welsh. The 7-foot, 255-pound big man was often overlooked last year playing with the likes of Lonzo Ball, T.J. Leaf, Ike Anigbogu and Bryce Alford. However, he should get a lot more love this year despite still playing with several five-star freshmen.

Here are his stats from 2016-17:

  • 10.8 PPG, 1.3 BPG, 8.7 RPG, 1 APG
  • 58.5 FG%, 25.1 MPG
  • 134.2 ORtg, 98.5 DRtg

Welsh is a solid mid-range shooter, but he has not stepped his range out to the three-point line during his time in Los Angeles. While that’s generally a minus in today’s NBA, the fact that he can step out and hit 15-footers consistently should be enough of a spacing factor for a team like the Spurs who have a few legitimate post up threats in more than just their big men.

The big Bruin will have to prove he can guard quicker and more athletic big men and forwards this year as he will likely have to guard two positions at the NBA level. He’s not an elite shot blocker by any means, but he does a solid job against other bigs. He has the size to hold his ground in the post and shouldn’t be bullied by any other big man, even at the NBA level.

Welsh is an excellent free throw shooter and so he won’t be a liability there, but he does not generate a lot of free throws as he only took 1.5 a game. However, he did shoot a remarkable 89.4 percent from there last season. If he can generate more points from the charity stripe this season then that could become a huge strength as he is a better athlete than people give him credit for.

The senior is very good at scoring on the move, which some other big men at the NBA level struggle with. That is a definite strength that shouldn’t be overlooked as it could make him quite difficult to guard on the offensive end. He might also prove to be a nice little spark off the bench depending on who is still on the team next season.

While Welsh is unlikely to get picked before the Spurs make their selection, he still may be a bit of a reach in the first round. Of course, that is dependent on what the Spurs will be looking for in the draft. If they don’t like how Pau Gasol works out with his new contract they could go looking for his replacement in Welsh or even just to have solid depth at the position.

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