With two draft picks in the upcoming draft, the Spurs scouting staff will have their hands full trying to decide which prospects to target in what is being described as one of the deepest draft classes in recent history
If the recent LaMarcus Aldridge injury scare identified anything for this team, it’s that the big-man rotation maybe a little on the shallow side.
The Spurs have Paul Gasol, Dewayne Dedmon, David Lee and Aldridge to fill the power-forward and center positions. There is also the rookie Davis Bertans, and veteran Joel Anthony to factor into the conversation but neither are reliable options for consistent productivity.
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Neither Lee, Aldridge, or Gasol for that matter, are strong defensive players. Dedmon is in the same boat but on the opposite side. Outside of catching lobs and hitting the occasional free-throw, the California native isn’t exactly going to light up the score sheet.
That’s one case that can be made for the Spurs draft needs.
On the other hand, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobli are forever edging closer to the end of their respective careers. Patty Mills is a reliable scoring punch off the bench, and has been relatively consistent in his limited starts, but it’s a very small sample size.
Dejounte Murray has shown real flashes of potential but still has a lot of development ahead.
A player that could ease some of the scoring burden on Kawhi Leonard should be near the top of the Spurs to-do list. And another reliable two-way front court player is always going to be a hot commodity around the NBA.
Thankfully for the Spurs, this draft has a whole host of players that fit that description.
As it stands, the Spurs 1st round pick is sitting at number 29.
Caleb Swanigan out of Purdue could be an interesting option. The 6’9″ power forward could still benefit from losing a few pounds, although he has improved his body and fitness since last season. At only 19 years old, however, there is a huge amount of room for development.
With season averages of 18.5 points, 12.6 rebounds and 2.8 assists, Swanigan is a pretty reliable two-way forward. His 7’3″ wingspan makes up for some deficiencies in speed and lateral quickness on the defensive end. Having a solid ability to score from beyond the arc (43% on the season) for his size will likely have him attracting a lot of interest from NBA teams.
T.J. Leaf is a player who’s draft stock is likely rising with UCLA’s performance in the NCAA Tournament. There have been some questions about his toughness and defensive ability.
Leaf is another player who fits nicely into the stretch-four category, shooting an impressive 45% from outside on the season.
His main strength is finishing around the rim in a pick and roll offense. Leaf would benefit most from operating in a fast-paced system. His athleticism and ability to run the floor would give the Spurs a different kind of threat to that of Aldridge and Gasol.
Looking at the guard position, Josh Hart could be a player to consider.
His impressive basketball IQ and defensive awareness could fit nicely in a young back-court partnership with Murray. Hart shot a respectable 40% from three this season, but there are still some questions as to whether his shooting ability will translate to the next level.
Hart isn’t the most physically gifted player in the draft, but his intelligence on the court allows that to be forgiven. His defensive ability comes more from smart decisions and effort than athleticism.
Bam Adebayo is a freak athlete. Not the most skillful big man in the draft, but his ability to finish above the rim and defensive potential are not to be overlooked.
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Adebayo would be a high-upside project for a team like the Spurs who have the patience to nurture him. Having a solid athletic finisher to operate the pick and roll offense with Dejounte Murray could be a great way to develop both young players.