The San Antonio Spurs have been the model of consistency throughout the NBA for more than two decades.
Led by the greatest coach in modern NBA history, the winningest Big Three of all time, and a quiet young superstar from San Diego State, it once seemed the days of Spurs dominance would never end.
As we all know, Father Time has never been beaten and all good things must come to an end. It is now September 2018; Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili are retired, Tony Parker and Kawhi Leonard have successfully taken their talents to the Eastern Conference, and Gregg Popovich is nearing the twilight of his coaching career.
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The Alamo City has long been known for the leadership of their savvy veterans, but wheeling and dealing galore has ensured the 2018-2019 rendition of the storied franchise will be filled to the brim with exciting young talent. While inexperience will rear its ugly head on more than a few occasions, San Antonio’s youngsters are sure to get Spurs fans off their feet.
With all the new faces around the roster, San Antonio’s average player age sits at just under 27-years-old. Several impending moves and a 38-year-old Pau Gasol certainly skew that number a bit, but the Spurs youth movement is legitimately in full swing. With that said, let’s take a look at the five young Spurs with the most All-Star potential.
Next: No. 5 - Chimezie Metu
5: Chimezie Metu
Of all the players on this list, 2018 second-rounder Chemezie Metu is by far the biggest project. He’s a serviceable shooter, sound scorer, decent post defender and an above average athlete, but he fails to stand out in any major way.
At six-foot-ten and 220 pounds, his slight build will be a challenge if he wants to bang in the block with NBA bruisers. For now, he’s probably best suited for an extended stint in the G League where the Spurs can patiently monitor his development.
On top of concerns regarding the limitations of his game, the biggest complaint surrounding Metu coming out of USC was his inconsistent motor.
Next: No. 4 - Jakob Poeltl
He has all the tools to become a valuable role player, but his NBA future is largely in his own hands.
4: Jakob Poeltl
The Spurs love big men who set sturdy screens, play hardnosed defense and finish at the rim. Lucky for them, Jakob Poeltl found his way to San Antonio as part of the highly publicized Kawhi Leonard blockbuster.
Poeltl finished Top 20 in Defensive Box +/- and Defensive Rating, and would have finished first overall in field goal percentage too, had he put up enough shots to qualify. Though his per game numbers don’t exactly jump off the stat sheet, Poeltl’s the type of rotational center every team would like to have.
His draft position at ninth overall back in 2016 might have been a tad too high for his talent, but Poeltl’s only 22 with a wealth of years ahead of him to prove doubters wrong.
Next: No. 3 - Derrick White
The Austrian center lacks the shooting necessary stretch the floor, though I can name more than a few former Spurs to reinvent their shot with the help of legendary shooting coach Chip Engelland.
3: Derrick White
Tell me if this story sounds familiar. An undersized kid goes under-recruited out of high school and becomes a serious NBA prospect at a university known more for their academics than their basketball program.
Both White and McCollum are combo guards with below the rim athleticism, silky smooth jumpers and crafty collections of scoring moves. I’m not saying White will ever develop into the player McCollum has become, but the similarities in their games are striking.
Even if Derrick White fails to reach his ceiling, his well-rounded game keeps his floor comfortably high. He’s already a knockdown shooter from deep and his knack for finding open teammates as a secondary playmaker is promising.
Next: No. 2 - Dejounte Murray
A crowded backcourt will likely limit his minutes this season, but keep an eye on White for the future.
2: Dejounte Murray
Dejounte Murray is already off to a solid start to his NBA career. He’s the starting point guard for one of the league’s premier franchises and the youngest member of an All-Defensive Team in the 72-year history of the NBA.
His shooting, scoring, and passing have left much to be desired, but Murray has shown a dedication to perfecting his craft and has made marked improvements each year in the association. At just 22-years-old, the springy point guard will have plenty of time to shore up his skillsets.
Although Murray may never become a full-fledged superstar in the NBA, he’ll have every opportunity to excel within the Spurs system.
Next: No. 1 - Lonnie Walker IV
Let’s not forget that once upon a time a teenage Tony Parker transformed himself from a no-name prospect on draft night into a perennial All-Star on a championship contender.
1: Lonnie Walker IV
This may come as a bit of a surprise, but Lonnie Walker IV is the clear candidate for the Spurs player most likely to reach superstardom. The rookie is an explosive athlete with elite-level measurables and a textbook jump shot.
Walker is fairly raw right now, but his instincts and feel for the game can’t be taught. If you don’t believe me, take a look at the tweet below and follow the thread for a compilation of I put together of his Summer League highlights.
As meaningless as Summer League may be for predicting NBA success for rookies, @lonniewalker_4 has shown an incredible amount of promise. His 12.4 PPG on 33% shooting won’t make you stop and stare, but watch the tape and you’ll find he leaves his mark on the game in many ways.
— Noah Magaro-George (@N_Magaro) July 11, 2018
Not only is Lonnie Walker IV the highest original draft selection by the Spurs since they took Tim Duncan first overall in 1997, but he’s also the most electrifying rookie we’ve seen in San Antonio in what feels like forever.
While there’s no promise he’ll have a Hall of Fame career like Timmy D, Walker will have every resource at his disposal to guarantee he has a chance.