San Antonio Spurs: 5 options at pick No. 18 after 2018 NBA Combine
By Rob Wolkenbrod
After the 2018 NBA Combine, which players could be in play for the San Antonio Spurs at No. 18?
The San Antonio Spurs own pick No. 18 on the 2018 NBA Draft’s first round. It’s their highest pick since the 1997 Draft (not including the Kawhi Leonard trade of 2011) that saw them select Tim Duncan No. 1 overall.
There’s still one month to determine who the Spurs will select, but did the recent Combine impact the decision? This event took place over four days, with potential first and second round picks participating in drills and scrimmages to showcase for NBA teams.
Who should be in consideration at No. 18 after the Combine? Let’s take a look:
5. Anfrernee Simons, PG/SG, IMG Academy
Anfernee Simons is the domestic mystery man. One year out of high school, he entered the 2018 NBA Draft and was actually projected as a top recruit for the 2019 class, but the former loophole let him join the process, with a chance at going pro.
At the Combine, Simons checked in at 6′ 3.25” with shoes — not far from his listed height of 6′ 3” before the Combine. His 6′ 9.25” standing reach, however, stood out as someone who may play bigger than his height and pose a threat defensively. How his athleticism translates to the NBA could add to the equation.
Did this push Simons up the draft? Maybe not, as he was projected after the lottery in most mocks, anyway, with a spot between 15 and 20. So if the San Antonio Spurs want him at No. 18, they remain a candidate, especially with their reported interest.
Simons is a project, though, and may need a year in the G League to play against professional competition and work on his passing and see how the outside shooting develops above the high school level. The Spurs did not have a problem with this, with the recent selections of Dejounte Murray and Derrick White, both of whom did not play much in their first NBA season.
Next: Miles Bridges
4. Miles Bridges, SF/PF, Michigan State
Miles Bridges could have been a top 10 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, and while that remains in play in 2018, there’s safer and higher upside picks who could go ahead of him.
Bridges has above-average athleticism that will draw the eye of any team. His 6′ 6.75” height at the Combine provides decent size for the three spot, too, but it’s the skill set that provides a question or two.
Without a good jump shot, Bridges works in the low post. At his height, that may not go far in the NBA. Although, the modern-day game has shifted to the idea of “positionless basketball” and actually work in the Michigan State product’s favor.
However, for Bridges to gain more playing time and develop, he needs to integrate that jump shot into his game.
Along with a 6′ 9.5” wingspan that’s not incredibly long for a player at Bridges’ height, it potentially takes some air out of his stock. Whether that means a spot in the late lottery or outside of it is possible, and could mean the San Antonio Spurs are in play at No. 18.
Bridges can be seen as a value pick at San Antonio’s spot, if they think his game will come together beyond the athleticism and low-post toughness. It’s not a player the team particularly needs, though, after a shooting year that placed them near the bottom of the NBA. Plus, Bridges works better as an undersized power forward, for now, and that won’t push LaMarcus Aldridge out of the lineup often.
The Spurs even spoke to Bridges at the Combine. So is he in play at this pick?
Next: Donte DiVincenzo
3. Donte DiVincenzo, SG, Villanova
If anyone used the 2018 NBA Combine to his advantage, it was Donte DiVincenzo, who broke onto the college basketball scene in the 2018 National Championship game. A 31-point outing put his name on the map and draft radars.
DiVincenzo tied for the best vertical leap at the Combine, at 42 inches. It showed the potential for at least above-average athleticism in the NBA, and with strong numbers in the lane agility drill (10.72 seconds) and three-quarters sprint (3.11 seconds), according to USA Today, there’s reason to raise an eyebrow and wonder what else he can do.
Given the shooting ability DiVincenzo showed off in the title game, teams already knew he could stretch the floor as a knockdown two. Adding the athleticism means fans can expect drives to the basket and more of those highlight-reel dunks that were on display.
No. 18 is potentially a stretch for DiVincenzo, who did not appear to be more than a second-round pick before the Combine. Could this pick, made by the San Antonio Spurs, actually be his draft ceiling?
The Spurs, much like other teams, spoke to DiVincenzo at the Combine. They need shooting guard depth and have always rostered knock-down shooters to support the star players. Could this mean there’s a match at No. 18?
Next: Kevin Huerter
2. Kevin Huerter, SG, Maryland
One of the draft’s biggest head-turners, aside from Donte DiVincenzo, was Kevin Huerter, who seemed like a candidate to return to school. With a strong performance at the Combine, however, that might not be the case anymore.
Huerter has quality size for a shooting guard, at 6′ 7.25”, and while the wingspan may not overwhelm anyone (6′ 7.5”), this is still a player that did everything to improve his stock and become a player that goes in the middle of the first round.
As Sports Illustrated noted, Huerter may have been the “biggest winner” of the Combine. He knocked down 15 consecutive 3-pointers and impressed NBA scouts in this showing, according to The Washington Post, which was both on and off the dribble.
At Maryland, Huerter also improved from his freshman to sophomore year, shooting over 50 percent from the field and 41.7 percent from 3-point range, with an average of 14.8 points per game. A 3.4 assists-2.5 turnover mark will not stand out, but if teams do not make him a ball-handler, will that matter?
With Huerter’s performance, it’s possible he flies up to the San Antonio Spurs at No. 18. It might be a reach, but if he turned that many heads at the Combine, did R.C. Buford and Gregg Popovich take notice and view this player as their next shooting guard?
Next: Zhaire Smith
1. Zhaire Smith, SG, Texas Tech
We already projected Zhaire Smith to the San Antonio Spurs in both mock drafts. The fit, and potential range for his value, makes this a possible pick for the Silver and Black at No. 18 in the first round.
Smith’s calling card is his athleticism, which allowed him to fly down the court at Texas Tech and soar past (and sometimes over) defenders. It should translate defensively, too, with an impressive 6′ 9.75 wingspan to make him play bigger than 6′ 4”.
A developing jump shot hurts Smith’s stock, though, and may him keep away from the lottery. Though, if teams feel he will develop this, it’s easy to think the Denver Nuggets or Los Angeles Clippers take a chance just spots higher than the Spurs.
As a shooting guard, Smith does not project as a Gregg Popovich guy, either. NBADraft.net regarded him as a high-basketball-IQ player, but the absence of a jump shot, when Popovich’s shooting guards are usually knock-down players from behind the arc, could take the 18 year old out of the mix.
Then, there’s this draft analysis from Jonathan Givony of Draft Express, who praised Smith’s developing shot.
Super impressive workout from Zhaire Smith. Shot is much further along than advertised. Made a ton tonight, including quite a few sequences of 4 and 5 threes in a row. Could very well be the best athlete in the draft. pic.twitter.com/bnb1vLdmYk
— Jonathan Givony (@DraftExpress) May 17, 2018
Next: 2018 NBA Mock Draft: After the lottery
Despite this possibility, Smith remains a candidate at No. 18 because the Combine did nothing to alter his mid-first-round stock and may have helped it, if anything. That would not be good news for the Spurs.