Mar 23, 2014; St. Louis, MO, USA; Wichita State Shockers forward Cleanthony Early (11) reacts after scoring against the Kentucky Wildcats during the second half in the third round of the 2014 NCAA Men

San Antonio Spurs Take Cleanthony Early In New Mock Draft


Holding the last pick in the upcoming NBA draft seems anticlimactic for the San Antonio Spurs.  So who did ESPN give them in the latest mock draft?

Early has versatility that Gregg Popovich will covet

Every year a team always seems to capture the imagination of the nation during March Madness.  For 2014 that team was the Wichita State Shockers, who rode an incredible wave of momentum into the NCAA tournament, topping off at 35-0 before losing a heartbreaking thriller to Kentucky in the third round.  After their equally impressive run in 2013 it was clear the Shocker might have some NBA talent on their roster, and one such players is who ESPN has going to the San Antonio Spurs with the 30th pick.  His name is Cleanthony Early.  At 6’7″, 210 lbs he has pro basketball size.  Scouting reports see an ability to rebound, an improving jump shot, and the versatility to play defense.  At the same time he’s 23-years old, so he’s definitely not a young pup.  Some would say he’s a Spurs type of player.  Head coach Gregg Popovich likes players who do multiple things well and doesn’t care about drawbacks as long as they fit the system he runs.  Early needs to work on his ballhandling, but if he’s there at #30, it shouldn’t surprise anybody if he ends up in San Antonio.

Rise of Kawhi Leonard calls for bench help at small forward

Aside from his skill and fit for the scheme, Cleanthony Early would also serve a more immediate purpose.  Coming off his NBA Finals MVP award, it’s clear that rising star Kawhi Leonard is going to become featured more and more in the San Antonio Spurs plans, especially as the old guard of Tim Duncan and Tony Parker continue to age.  It will rest upon the team to find ways to keep Leonard fresh during the season, and that means adding depth to the bench at small forward.  That is where Early comes in.  He plays the same position, has the same measurables as Leonard and can find ways to score points.  Amazingly he’s also a year older than, so maturity won’t be a problem.  With some added zest from Pop on the fundamental side, the Shocker star should fit right in to the well-oiled machine the Spurs have built over the past fifteen seasons.

Tags: Cleanthony Early Gregg Popovich Kawhi Leonard San Antonio Spurs

  • Albert Smith

    Though he only had minimal time to adjust before the playoffs Austin Daye could fill in behind Kawhi while also asending to the stretch 4 role with sneaky athleticism, in terms of a pick I’d say bpa but I truly want to find a nice piece to take over for Gino in the next year or even though Danny has been okay I want someone that attacks the lane.

    • Erik Lambert

      I can see that. The heavy question is what will happen with Gino and T-Dunc. Will they retire? If either one of them does it will change the outlook of what the Spurs will do in the draft, even though I believe they will go front court anyway.

      • Albert Smith

        Gino has already said he’s gonna honor his contract & return now it’s just whether Timmy returns, which looks very good considering he like new challenges & trying to go back to back has to be an ultimate since winning a gold metal isn’t an option though he did hate FIBA rules.

        • Erik Lambert

          A repeat is really the only thing left he hasn’t done, but it’s a big risk at his age. Not everybody gets to go out on top like he can now. Time will tell.

          • Albert Smith

            A fair assessment, Erik but Tim is still so very effective & and Pop will continue to manage him accordingly, remember the same thing was thought in reference to David Robinson too perhaps he had enough to help the spurs a few more years & ultimately won another ring though his level of play wasn’t where Tim’s is currently.

          • Erik Lambert

            Very true, but remember that Robinson had Tim in his prime when he chose to go after another title. Does Tim have anybody like that this time around? Duncan is a master at maximizing what he has but everybody has a breaking point and if he couldn’t repeat when he was the best in the NBA, it’s just hard seeing him do it this late in the game.

          • Albert Smith

            Well, let’s go back to him post game 5 of the finals when he was asked & kinda touched on that, he was initially asked about Kawhi winning the finals MVP and how much he impacted their victory. Well I don’t know what to say Pop and R.C. did it again because when he came in it was a lot of unknowns we had traded away George Hill someone we all were close to & loved but from the 1st day he came in ready to work and i’m glad we have him he’s so young and i’m gonna try to hang on as long as I can to see him continue to grow with the spurs. Also Pop indicated he could coach another 4-5 yrs so read into that how you’d like.

          • Erik Lambert

            Kawhi is the key. As long as he stays with the team and continues to play at the level he did in the Finals, the Spurs might have another shot before Tim retires.