The San Antonio Spurs still have their first selection in the 2018 NBA Draft. Who may be an option?
Through 59 games, the San Antonio Spurs sit at 35-24 and No. 3 in the Western Conference. With a spot in the NBA Playoffs in sight, it will put the Spurs outside the lottery in the NBA Draft, something they have not been part of since the 1997 selection process. Tim Duncan went No. 1 overall and the rest was history.
The 35-24 record places the Spurs at No. 24 overall in the first round. Given the organization has not traded its selection, it stands they will pick in this range, pending a collapse in the final 23 games of the season.
The 2018 NBA Draft will not take place until the end of June, but it’s worth a look at some early options for the Silver and Black. Who could they choose?
5. Moritz Wagner, PF, Michigan
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The potential selections start with Moritz Wagner, a power forward from Michigan. His profile fits the trend of the NBA for the past few years: a big man that can shoot the three.
Wagner stands at 6′ 11”, which provides him the size to become a mismatch on the perimeter. He can take centers away from the basket and out to the 3-point line, with an opening around the basket for guards to penetrate towards. There’s no doubt the German-born big man can shoot it, too, with a 39.5 3-point percentage in 2016-17 and 39.8 in 2017-18, both of which were on at least three attempts per game.
In past years, Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich leaned toward traditional big men on his roster. However, with the addition of Davis Bertans in 2016-17 and his increased role in 2017-18, it shows the team’s adjustment to the rest of the league’s stretch style of play.
Defense will be what hurts Wagner’s stock. Rim protecting will not be his go-to, as he only blocks just over half a shot per game. He’s not the most athletic player, either, so a defensive matchup against quicker stretch fours may be an issue.
Wagner’s game resembles Bertans’, who can become a restricted free agent this offseason. If the latter leaves, it creates an opening for another stretch four on the Spurs roster. If not, it could be someone that deepens the team’s arsenal of outside shooters.
Next: Grayson Allen
4. Grayson Allen, SG, Duke
Like most Duke players that enter the NBA Draft, Grayson Allen’s transition will be one to watch. He’s a three-year starter for the Blue Devils, and feels like one of those players that have played in college for an eternity. It’s a tenure that was marred by controversy, when the senior guard allegedly intentionally tripped opposing players during games.
Allen’s final season has not featured TripGate. Instead, it has been a bounce-back year after a poor junior season, which saw him shoot just 39.5 percent from the field. Now, it’s at 43 percent and 38 percent from 3-point range.
Shooting will make or break Allen in the NBA. He does not have the ideal size at shooting guard, as NBADraft.net noted, which puts him at a disadvantage, along with the potential lack of athleticism to match quicker guards and wings. Defensive ability has been on display throughout college, though, so it will be interesting to see if it translates to the pros.
The San Antonio Spurs may get thin at shooting guard this offseason. Danny Green can opt out of his contract; Bryn Forbes will be a restricted free agent; Manu Ginobili might retire at any point. The potential loss of any of these three may push the Spurs toward adding someone on the perimeter, which could come in handy at the NBA Draft.
Next: Omer Yurtseven
3. Omer Yurtseven, C, North Carolina State
Omer Yurtseven of North Carolina State may not be a player that lasts until the 20’s. His 7-foot, 245-pound frame gives him an NBA body, one that profiles as at least a backup center. Wingspan goes in his favor, too, which was shown off on the stat sheet this season.
From Yurtseven’s freshman to sophomore campaign, his numbers took off, and in just five extra minutes per game (2016-17 vs. 2017-18): 5.9 points vs. 13.5; 4.4 rebounds vs. 6.8; 0.7 blocks vs. 1.7; 45.7 shooting percentage vs. 59.5 percent; 33.3 3-point percentage vs. 48.3 (somewhat misleading since he averaged just 0.1 3-point attempts in 2016-17 vs. 1.1 in 2017-18). It’s a clear improvement from year to year, which benefited from his decision to stay in school and avoid the draft.
However, with this stock boost, look for Yurtseven to enter the 2018 NBA Draft and test how far this can get him. That’s even with questionable athleticism that may hamper him against the faster players of the league, hurting his defensive stock.
The San Antonio Spurs can stand to get younger at center and power forward. LaMarcus Aldridge is on the wrong side of 30, while Pau Gasol nears 40 years old. Davis Bertans is just 25, but outside of him, there’s no young, long-term option to man the four or five spot at the AT&T Center.
Yurtseven adds an intriguing scoring threat for the Spurs, who may not be a proficient outside shooter but can hit a basket from there and on all spots of the court. That’s not the worst thing for a team that’s struggled to score this season.
Next: Brandon McCoy
2. Brandon McCoy, C, UNLV
As of this writing, NBADraft.net lists UNLV center Brandon McCoy as the San Antonio Spurs’ projected pick in this June’s Draft. With McCoy’s flashes of upside this season, there’s every reason to like what he brings to the table.
McCoy’s 7-foot, 255-pound frame gives him the NBA body to fit in. It’s a start, but there’s also the gaudy stat line of his freshman campaign: 17.3 points, 10.2 rebounds and 1.8 blocks on 57.3 percent shooting in 28.1 minutes per game. There’s little to no outside jump shot from the Chicago, IL native, but he makes up for it under the basket, with the ability to protect the rim, grab rebounds and work his offensive game in the paint.
McCoy’s NBADraft.net profile noted his raw skills at both ends of the court, which makes this a potential project for any team that picks him. It spells a move to the G League, allowing the 19 year old to develop and see the court at a future date. That can be enough for teams to pass on him for someone that’s deemed prepared to help now.
The Spurs, as noted with Yurtseven, need a younger player under the basket. McCoy would be a project for Popovich, and someone the team keeps on the back burner for a year or two, similar to Dejounte Murray in 2016-17 and Derrick White thisyear. Will the organization choose this direction again?
Next: Dzanan Musa
1. Dzanan Musa, SF, Bosnia & Herzegovina
Dzanan Musa is the ultimate wildcard of this group. His potential position in the 2018 NBA Draft could be in the late teens or early lottery, but the chance of staying overseas for an extra season or two can hamper anyone’s draft stock.
Musa will barely be 19 by the June Draft (his birthday is in May), so whoever takes him will work with one of the NBA’s youngest players, pending a direct move to the Association and not another year in Europe. The 6′ 9”, 195-pound frame shows his youth and how much weight he needs to put on. So, maybe that extra year away from the league benefits him, if that becomes the decision.
However, the size at least sits well for a wing player, who can score anywhere, especially from 3-point range. Couple these two attributes, and it’s the groundwork for a player that will intrigue scouts before the NBA Draft.
Athleticism and ability to defend will decide how big of an impact Musa makes in the NBA. He will last as a scorer, but if he can’t keep up with the faster players — seemingly a question with each player on this list — it may keep him in a long-term bench role.
Musa would be an intriguing international prospect for the Spurs, who have not shied away from them. If he’s there between 20-25, wherever San Antonio picks, this selection makes sense. It’s a worthy scorer that can provide depth behind Kawhi Leonard, with the versatility to play as a stretch four. With a team that badly needs point production, Musa can be an answer to the problem in the future.