The San Antonio Spurs will be out of range from some of the top NBA Draft prospects, but who would make sense as a dream fit?
The San Antonio Spurs will not be part of the 2018 NBA Draft Lottery, which will be unveiled Tuesday night. Their last inclusion in one of the draft’s first steps came in 1997, with the victory of the No. 1 overall pick and selection of Tim Duncan.
Due to success for the next 21 seasons, the Spurs have not had a chance at the projected, elite talents of the draft. Unless there’s a trade before June’s selection show, that will be the case again.
Even though 2018’s top prospects are out of range, some of them would still make sense as a fit on San Antonio’s roster. Which four players does this include?
4. Mikal Bridges, SG/SF, Villanova
One need we profiled for the Spurs was a shooting guard with size. With Danny Green’s underwhelming offensive stats and potential free agency, along with Manu Ginobili’s future in doubt and Bryn Forbes’ restricted free agency, San Antonio might be nearly empty at the two position.
More from Spurs Draft
- A Way-Too-Early List of San Antonio Spurs 2021 Draft Prospects
- San Antonio Spurs Draft: 6 Dark-horse prospects you need to watch
- San Antonio Spurs Draft: Frontcourt help a must-have in 2021 draft class
- San Antonio Spurs re-commit to defense with 2020 NBA Draft picks
- San Antonio Spurs: Full 2020 NBA Draft Grades and In-Depth Analysis
In most mock drafts, Mikal Bridges has been projected as a lottery pick, if not a top 10 selection in the 2018 NBA Draft. That’s far away from the Spurs’ pick at No. 18 and it seems unlikely they have a chance to select him, barring a trade.
Bridges makes plenty of sense for the Spurs, however. As NBADraft.net noted, he’s the standard “3-and-D” player or someone who can hit his shots from behind the arc and play good perimeter defense.
Green always fit this role for the Silver and Black, but if he leaves this summer, it opens a defensive gap on a team known for limiting their opponents.
A knock against Bridges is his lack of driving to the basket, something Green did not start doing until the 2017-18 season, but on an inconsistent basis. So they’re similar players, but the Spurs need an upside talent, and Bridges fits this after his scoring improvement from 2016-17 to 2017-18. Just don’t expect him to be there at No. 18 to make this scenario happen.
Next: Mohamed Bamba
3. Mohamed Bamba, C, Texas
The San Antonio Spurs entered the 2017-18 season thin at center, with an aging Pau Gasol as the lead player at this position. Joffrey Lauvergne backed him up but dealt with injuries and was kept on the bench for part of the year. LaMarcus Aldridge was moved to the five at times, but his ideal position is at power forward.
A youthful injection is needed at center. It probably will not come from Mohamed Bamba, but on paper, he appears as an intriguing fit.
In an era of elite rim protectors, Bamba has the chance to join them. He owns a ridiculous 7’9” wingspan that will engulf players that try to shoot on him, leading to a handful of blocks each game (he averaged 3.7 with Texas).
Bamba flashed some shooting ability in college. Although it has some ways to go, especially as more NBA big men continue to stretch their respective repertoires to the 3-point line. The same goes for his offensive game in general, which will be a work in progress.
The defensive work under the basket, to team with the offensive-minded Aldridge would be an intriguing combination. It would work the Spurs to the days of potentially having an elite rim protector to anchor the defense. But it’s only a thought and not likely to become reality.
Next: Deandre Ayton
2. Deandre Ayton, C, Arizona
There’s Mohamed Bamba’s defensive upside and then there’s Deandre Ayton, the potential No. 1 overall pick of the 2018 NBA Draft. Unless the San Antonio Spurs trade Kawhi Leonard for a package that includes one of the top two or three picks, there’s no chance they get Arizona’s star. And, of course, any team would be a natural “fit” for him this high.
Ayton showed off his offensive prowess in college, averaging 20.1 points per game on 61.2 percent shooting and even making some 3-pointers. He has the NBA body to accompany this, too, at 7’0” and 250 pounds.
As Sports Illustrated noted, Ayton may be the most athletic center prospect of this decade. It’s part of what makes him an attention-grabbing prospect and maybe what gives hope for a defensive game to develop.
Ayton, despite his immense upside, is not known for his defense, averaging just 1.9 blocks per game and struggling to be an imposing presence down low. With Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich’s focus on this side of the game, it may not make this prospect a 100 percent perfect fit in San Antonio, but it’s hard to ignore the freakish offensive potential that’s brought to the table.
Ayton is still just 19 years old and far from a finished product, so the defensive ability can arrive in years to come. With how much he can potentially impact a game already, it’s worth waiting for.
Next: Luka Doncic
1. Luka Doncic, SG/SF, Slovenia
Joining Deandre Ayton in that upper-level range, Luka Doncic is this year’s international man of mystery. Although his performances have gained some headlines, overseas prospects have proven to be hit or miss. With this player, however, there’s reason to believe he falls on the “hit” side of the scale.
Doncic profiles as the NBA’s next wing, standing at 6’8” and 225 pounds. He’s not an imposing physical presence, but his quick development at a young age has been praised, with the ability to create his own shot and do a little bit of everything. From playing the distributor role to showing no issue driving to the basket and taking contact, it’s just some of the attributes to like from his game.
Athleticism is one of the only concerns with Doncic’s game. It could hamper him on defense and take some of his ability to drive away, but it should not hurt his stock as the No. 1 or 2 overall pick.
There’s no chance the San Antonio Spurs get Doncic, even though he makes sense for their squad. With Kawhi Leonard’s status in the air and Rudy Gay’s potential free-agent departure, the Silver and Black can use quality insurance at the wing.
It would take a trade of Leonard to acquire one of the draft’s top picks to make this happen, with Doncic sliding in as the replacement at the three. His offensive game would be welcomed on a team that can get its next young star to build around, especially one with international appeal; that’s hardly unknown to this franchise over the past 20 years.
The Spurs will not get a chance at any of these players, barring an unforeseen circumstance, but all could fit into their 2018-19 plans. Let’s see where Ayton, Bamba, Bridges and Doncic land.