Jun 23, 2016; New York, NY, USA; A general view of a video board displaying all thirty draft picks in the first round of the 2016 NBA Draft at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports
The San Antonio Spurs own the 29th pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, so who are the best choices for this selection?
The San Antonio Spurs will once again pick near the bottom of the NBA Draft, being lined up with the No. 29 pick in the first round. Top-notch records keep the Spurs in this spot. However, for 2017, it didn’t result in a trip to the NBA Finals.
With multiple players being up for free agency, the Spurs may look to this pick to replace someone that may leave. This includes Manu Ginobili, Jonathan Simmons and Patty Mills.
Even with this, big man depth can be used behind Pau Gasol and LaMarcus Aldridge. So who could the Spurs front office target with their first pick?
Feb 14, 2016; East Lansing, MI, USA; Indiana Hoosiers forward OG Anunoby (3) brings the ball up court during the first half of a game against the Michigan State Spartans at Jack Breslin Student Events Center. Mandatory Credit: Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports
5. OG Anunoby
One of the potential hidden gems of the 2017 NBA Draft is OG Anunoby. He started his second season in Indiana with plenty of promise, improving on his 2015-16 season totals in points per game, rebounds, assists, blocks and steals. It came in 12 extra minutes.
However, on Jan.18, Anunoby suffered a right knee injury that cut his sophomore season short. It’s going to lead to health questions and maybe see him picked lower than expected, but if he can stay upright, this may be one of the steals of the 2017 draft. Mavs Moneyball noted this, mentioning the size, length and athleticism of the now former Hoosier.
But that’s the ceiling Anunoby could reach with his size, length and athleticism. Last week at the draft combine Anunoby measured 6’8” and 230 pounds with a terrifying wingspan over 7’2”—enough to make you believe that he was MJ’s dunking double in Space Jam. Those staggering dimensions combined with his natural defensive instinct are what has NBA teams so intrigued.
It’s an intriguing physical set for Anunoby, who has the potential to be a defensive force for any NBA team. A lot of it will depend on his athleticism, depending on how much of it is sapped from the ACL injury. If the knee proves to be alright in his rookie, sophomore and future seasons, then this could at least be solidified bench piece for a team.
If Anunoby’s offensive game comes together, he has a chance for a higher ceiling. Will he continue developing?
It would be a risky pick for the Spurs, who may lose Manu Ginobili to retirement and Jonathan Simmons in free agency, both of whom spent time at the small forward spot Anunoby plays. If the front office drafts the 19-year-old at No. 29 and these two depart, they’ll need a few pieces of insurance from free agency. Will they be willing to wait on him even sitting out part of next season?
Next: Luke Kennard
Feb 25, 2017; Coral Gables, FL, USA; Duke Blue Devils guard Luke Kennard (5) reacts during the second half against the Miami Hurricanes at Watsco Center. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
4. Luke Kennard
If the Spurs are looking for a shooting guard in the 2017 NBA Draft, Duke’s Luke Kennard should be a potential target. He rose to the occasion as the school’s leading scorer for the 2016-17 season, averaging nearly 20 points and shooting 43 percent from three-point range.
Kennard’s shooting prowess can play a part in filling in for Ginobili, or being groomed to take his spot (only fitting he’s a fellow lefty). He was one of the best at this in college basketball, which partially makes up for his average athleticism. So even if it takes time to develop other parts of the Franklin, OH native’s game, as well as if he just becomes a role-playing shooter, he has the opportunity to stick in the NBA for a long time.
The issue is Kennard may not be there at No. 29. With the perimeter game increasingly factoring into team’s game plans, it could make someone select him even higher in the draft. It may be an organization like the Chicago Bulls looking to spread the floor at No. 16, or the Oklahoma City Thunder eyeing another scorer at No. 21. So there’s a chance if the Spurs want Kennard, they may have to move up.
Next: Ivan Rabb
Dec 21, 2016; Greensboro, NC, USA; Duke Blue Devils forward Harry Giles (1) stands on the court in the second half against the Elon Phoenix at Greensboro Coliseum. Duke defeated Elon 72-61. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports
3. Harry Giles
Before suffering a knee injury, Harry Giles looked like a potential lock for the lottery. However, given the health risks involved, there’s a chance he falls out of the top 14 picks and slides into the bottom half of the first round.
At 6′ 11”, Giles has the size the Spurs may look for this offseason, especially if LaMarcus Aldridge moves and with Pau Gasol entering a contract year. It would at least be depth for the upcoming season, something this team could use at the big man spots.
Giles showed he can play, after returning from injury, but only stepping into the court for 11.5 minutes per game, likely a precautionary move to work him back. So everyone only saw limited production from the former top recruit. However, in limited action, he found ways to fill up the state sheet off the bench.
For the 2017-18 season, Giles being a role player wouldn’t be surprising, as a team like the Spurs would want to work him in and not risk potential injury. It’s not as big of a risk as Anunoby, but playing it cautious with Giles may not be the worst thing.
Next: Bam Adebayo
Feb 4, 2017; Gainesville, FL, USA; Kentucky Wildcats forward Edrice Adebayo (3) looks on against the Florida Gators during the first half at Exactech Arena at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
2. Bam Adebayo
Bam Adebayo was part of the latest loaded team of freshmen for Kentucky. Standing at 6’10”, with a 7’3” wingspan and proven athleticism, Adebayo can be a rim protector for an NBA team’s smaller lineup, something that’s becoming more of the norm. His 260-pound body can also be used to battle his way under the basket for rebounds, leading to the eight he averaged for the Wildcats.
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As Hoops Habit noted, Adebayo’s game has similarities to Tristan Thompson. It mostly ties to their second chance opportunities under the basket, working to grab missed chances and capitalize on them. That doesn’t make the Washington, NC native out to be a back-to-the-basket player, so he’ll potentially be an energy guy off the bench, with the and eventually working into a starting role.
Adebayo can be exactly that for the Spurs, along with the chance of being there at No. 29. He’d come off the bench for Gregg Popovich and fill in when needed. It doesn’t provide him with high upside, but a high ceiling instead, potentially making him available lower in Round 1.
For higher upside and a bigger position of need, the Spurs may need to consider other options. Who could be that?
Next: Justin Patton
March 17, 2017; Sacramento, CA, USA; Creighton Bluejays center Justin Patton (23) during the second half in the first round of the 2017 NCAA Tournament against the Rhode Island Rams at Golden 1 Center. The Rams won 84-72. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
1. Justin Patton
Justin Patton is the center the Spurs need. His 6’11” size and 7’3” wingspan provides some of the necessary tools toward being the inside presence the team can use, whether it’s as a starter or backup. That may come with some concerns with foul trouble (he averaged three per game
This may come with some concerns with foul trouble (he averaged three per game), so it’s something that can make the coaching staff’s heads spin. That can be reined in with tutelage and practice, which won’t happen overnight, but can work in steady development.
Through 25 minutes per game, Patton wasn’t the most effective rebounder, either, averaging just 6.2 rebounds. A more aggressive approach inside can be coached up, but size can’t be taught. He can find a way to use this around the rim and battle with some of the bigger players in the league.
Patton’s more flawed than most of the options, but he doesn’t come with the health concerns and has the physical upside. It makes this one of the safer picks and could make him go higher in the draft. The center and power forward depth in this draft is deep, so there’s a chance of the former Creighton starter making his way to No. 29.