San Antonio Spurs: 5 potential options at No. 49 in 2018 NBA Draft
By Rob Wolkenbrod
The San Antonio Spurs own the No. 49 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft. Who are some of their top options to select with this pick?
The San Antonio Spurs will enter the 2018 NBA Draft with two picks: No. 18 in the first round and No. 49 in the second round. The former will receive more attention, given its chances to succeed, rather than bust. However, second-round picks have panned out, too (i.e Manu Ginobili in 1999).
No. 49 will not provide much appeal, but there are still players to watch for that San Antonio can pick. It could even be a spot to select a prospect that slipped past their projection in the draft.
Who stands as the best options for the Spurs to take at No. 49 overall? Let’s take a look:
5. Austin Wiley, C, Auburn
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
Austin Wiley provided intriguing results at the 2018 NBA Combine, with measurables that somewhat helped him stand out as a 6′ 10” center. His 7′ 5” wingspan was tied for the fourth-best among 2018 prospects, behind Mohamed Bamba, Udoka Azubuike, Jaren Jackson and Isaac Haas.
Wiley’s 9′ 5” standing reach ranked among the best, as well. So the physical tools are there to make teams give him a look, but athleticism and the lack of a jump shot hurts his stock and leads to a second round placement.
However, maybe more than the athleticism and shooting is the injury history. Two knee surgeries (one on each knee), according to Draft Express, limited Wiley’s mobility. Oh, and he did not even play in the 2017-18 season due to the FBI probe into college basketball.
Auburn’s Austin Wiley will be an interesting decision. Was ineligible this past season due to FBI probe, and has been invited to the upcoming draft combine. Has yet to sign with an agent so could come back to school (practiced with the team all year).
— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) May 1, 2018
Why the connection to the San Antonio Spurs then? With a need for a younger big-man depth, Wiley fits the profile, and as a second-round pick, it’s a low-risk option that can take a short-term deal and be let go (or sent to the G League) if it does not work out.
Next: Caleb Martin
4. Caleb Martin, SG/SF, Nevada
When the Nevada Wolfpack made a run in the 2018 NCAA Tournament, the Martin brothers were at the forefront. This was with Cody, more of a combo guard, and Caleb, who acted off the two and three spots.
Caleb Martin projects as a potential second-round pick in the 2018 NBA Draft. At 6′ 6”, 195 pounds, he has decent size to be a shooting guard but a tad undersized to go head-to-head with wing players. He also offers a 6′ 10” wingspan that’s adequate for covering players and could make up for some if an NBA team puts him at the three spot.
Martin is a capable outside scorer, shooting 37.2 percent for his collegiate career on 6.9 attempts per game. He also improved his points per game output by over 7 from the 2015-16 season to 2017-18 (transferring from NC State to Nevada forced him to sit out one year).
The outside shooting and size could make Martin a late-round flier for the San Antonio Spurs at No. 49. Even at nearly 23 years old, it should not deter them, especially after taking Derrick White in 2017’s first round, who was 22 at the time. It may not be until 2019-20 that he even makes an impact, as a G League trip seems plausible if not guaranteed, with the Spurs’ slow development of prospects.
Next: Hamidou Diallo
3. Hamidou Diallo, SG, Kentucky
Hamidou Diallo’s only season at Kentucky did not see him stand out, shooting 42.8 percent with 10 points, 3.6 rebounds and 1.2 assists per game in 24.8 minutes. He started all 37 games but struggled down the stretch (6.8 points on 42.3 percent shooting), so aside from a 22-point outing in the NCAA Tournament, there was not enough to make this freshman a solidified first-round pick.
There’s still a chance Diallo slides into the bottom of the first round, though, given his 6′ 5” size at shooting guard and 6′ 11” wingspan, which helps his projections as a defender. If that’s not enough, then he can slide into the second round and potentially remain at No. 49 for the San Antonio Spurs.
The Spurs will need shooting guard depth. Thus the Caleb Martin option and Diallo here. The physical tools are there with the latter, but his lack of shooting causes a decrease in stock.
If Gregg Popovich and R.C. Buford feel Diallo will develop an outside game, then he can work in the G League for the 2018-19 season and receive a reevaluation before the 2019 offseason. The Spurs have valued these “3-and-D” players for years, and while Diallo currently does not fit the mold, the athleticism and wingspan are there to cover the defense. It’s a matter of if a consistent outside game can come to fruition.
Next: Kostas Antetokounmpo
2. Kostas Antetokounmpo, SF, Dayton
Kostas will become the latest Antetokounmpo brother to try to make it in the NBA. Giannis obviously succeeded and Thanasis made a handful of appearances, so there’s some intrigue to see what the latest Antetokounmpo can do.
Kostas Antetokounmpo only played in one collegiate season at Dayton and did not offer a convincing stat line. Without an outside shot, a 51.6 percent mark from the free throw line and just 5.2 points per game, none of it stood out. But 1.1 blocks per game showed the potential defensive upside.
Antetokounmpo’s combine measurements backed up the defensive intrigue, with a 9′ 2” standing reach and 7′ 2.25” wingspan at 6′ 10.25 (with shoes). Those physical tools jump off the page, even with raw offensive tools, and can lead to someone taking a flier.
If it’s the San Antonio Spurs, the coaching staff would be tasked with another project. That’s not to say he becomes Kawhi Leonard and develops an elite offensive repertoire, but the upside on the opposite end of the court provides hope that there’s a future for him in the NBA. It just may take time and a trip or two to the G League (for a full season), to discover the results.
This is not a short-term play for the Spurs, but someone who can develop and become a contributor by 2019-20. If the organization is interested in this, then Antetokounmpo is a worthy candidate at No. 49.
Next: Justin Jackson
1. Justin Jackson, SF, Maryland
Not the Justin Jackson from the Sacramento Kings, via the North Carolina Tar Heels, but Justin Jackson, the small forward from Maryland. He’s a potential second-round pick in the 2018 NBA Draft.
What does Jackson bring to the table? At 6′ 7”, he has a 7′ 3” wingspan that provides defensive upside. Top-notch athleticism, though, is what provides even more intrigue, to potentially make him into a quality NBA defender. He averaged nearly one full steal and block per game across two seasons.
Jackson’s athleticism and measurables also allow him to crash the glass, with 6.5 rebounds per game as a sometimes-undersized power forward. These qualities resemble what risky draft prospect Jarred Vanderbilt brings to the table, but it’s the former Terrapin’s outside game that separates the two (38.6 percent from 3-point range on 3.3 shots per game).
However, a bad shoulder injury, according to NBADraft.net, hurt Jackson’s stock. It caused a decline in shooting percentage (below 40 percent), his 3-point mark (25 percent) and points in just 11 appearances. That can be attributed to the shoulder problems, but is it a long-term concern?
Next: 2018 NBA Mock Draft: After the lottery
If not, everything about Jackson projects as a “3-and-D” prospect which, as noted, the San Antonio Spurs have valued before. There’s more upside than Caleb Martin on both ends of the court, and as late as No. 49, it’s a risk for the organization to take, pending Jackson still remains on the board.