If the San Antonio Spurs trade Kawhi Leonard to the Philadelphia 76ers and receive the No. 10 pick in the NBA Draft, how would it play out?
The San Antonio Spurs enter the offseason with a Kawhi Leonard question: Do they trade him if he does not sign a “supermax” contract extension for five years, $219 million? It’s a premium price for a player that took home NBA MVP votes in 2016-17, but potentially something to balk at with Leonard’s quadriceps injury that consumed all but nine games this season.
If the Spurs attempt to move Leonard — and they will first try to offer the extension — the Philadelphia 76ers already reportedly expressed interest to become a suitor. With assets available — players and picks — it’s possible these teams can match up for a trade.
Without the detailed specifics, let’s say the Silver and Black acquire the No. 10 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft from Philadelphia. How would that reshape the former’s plans for selecting collegiate and international prospects? It leaves them with three for the June 21 selection show, so let’s look at a new-look scenario.
With the No. 10 pick, from the Philadelphia 76ers and via the Los Angeles Lakers, it becomes Miles Bridges, a forward from Michigan State that’s projected as a lottery pick. The San Antonio Spurs interviewed him at the 2018 Combine.
If this was three or four years ago, Bridges would have the dreaded “tweener” label stamped on his profile. At 6′ 7”, a desired ability to play in the low post, high-level athleticism and an inconsistent 3-point shot, it plants him as someone too small to play power forward and not enough of a shooter to play small forward.
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This is the NBA in 2018, though, where mismatches and athleticism rule the day. That’s along with shooting, but if Bridges can play the four or even the five in super-small lineups, he can make it in the NBA.
On the Spurs, Bridges would become a project for the coaching staff, at least to develop his offensive game. The physical tools are there, similar to Kawhi Leonard (and not a direct comparison), so if they can work with the two-year collegiate player, he can become a more all-around player at the professional level.
Bridges’ draft range has not been officially planted, as he could go in the top 10 or even just outside the lottery. There’s even a chance for him to wind up at No. 18, San Antonio’s next pick, pending other teams pass on him for reasons mentioned above.
Next: Troy Brown
A second size pick for the San Antonio Spurs, Troy Brown stands at 6′ 7” — above average for a shooting guard’s height and elite for a point guard. He’s a one-year man from Oregon that started 35 of 35 games in 2017-18.
Brown has the physical tools, including a 7′ 0” wingspan to make him play even bigger on the defensive end. That can be versatile against guards and forward, as well as grabbing rebounds, pending he gains more muscle with an NBA training staff.
There are some athleticism concerns since he’s not elite at this attribute, however, and he does not have the consistent jump shot to play the two, which settles him in as a ball-handler.
Statistically, Brown put up 11.3 points on 44.4 percent shooting and just 29.2 percent from 3-point range. Along with 3.2 assists to 2.5 turnovers per game, it’s not exactly eye-popping, which makes this player a bigger project than Miles Bridges. He may even need a lengthy G League stint next season.
Although, again, the NBA is about mismatches. If the Spurs want to get bigger this offseason, something that showed in the playoff series against the Golden State Warriors, Brown is projectable enough to take a flier on and fill this role. He can then take a year or two to develop a more consistent jump shot and become a contributor.
Why no Zhaire Smith? With his Combine measurables, from a speculation perspective, it should move him up from No. 18 to just outside the lottery. Even though there’s part of his game that makes sense for the Spurs, the Texas Tech product might have played himself out of this range. Not only that, but taking two athletic projects might not be ideal, either.
Next: Tryggvi Hlinason
If the San Antonio Spurs select two domestic-born players in the first round, it’s difficult to think they would take a third, unless there’s G League plans in the works. That means it’s draft and stash time in the second round, with the selection of Tryggvi Hlinason from Iceland. No, that’s not a typo on how his name is spelled.
Who is Hlinason, though, aside from his native country?
As Bleacher Report noted, Hlinason broke out in the U20 European Championships, with 16.1 points, 11.6 rebounds and 3.1 blocks per game. He dominated the post as a 7′ 1”, 250-pound center. More strength could be added for someone of this size, but that’s still solid for a 20 year old.
Hlinason is a back-to-the-basket player who finds his points near the rim and also does a capable job of protecting it, with the 3.1 blocks per game as evidence. For now, he will not be a player to stretch the floor, something an increasing number of NBA centers are able to do (he did not attempt a 3-pointer in 24 EuroLeague games in 2017-18). There’s still time to develop this, however, especially if he remains overseas.
Down the line, Hlinason can work as a backup center for the Spurs, unless he proves worthy of enough to become a starter. How far away that is, though, remains to be seen because, as of this writing, he has yet to officially declare for the draft.