Now that the San Antonio Spurs’ G League affiliate’s season is over in Austin, it’s time to look at how their top three prospects fared this year.
The San Antonio Spurs have used their G League team in Austin very wisely in developing young talent before they’re ready to contribute on the NBA level.
The two most glowing examples of this type of player development in the G League are Dejounte Murray and Derrick White who both spent most of their rookie years in Austin before a breakout NBA season in year two.
The Spurs are hoping to replicate that formula yet again with this year’s first round pick Lonnie Walker, but there are a couple of other players who have also had promising years in Austin and may be ready to join an NBA rotation next season.
It’s been interesting to see these players’ development throughout the season in our G League Roundup articles, and now we have a full body of work to look back on from this year.
Unfortunately, Austin won’t be defending their G League title as they failed to make the playoffs this season, but the reps these young players got at this level could be incredibly valuable moving forward.
Next: Chimezie Metu
Chimezie Metu hasn’t gotten much run in San Antonio this season after being selected with the 49th overall pick in this year’s draft, but he’s been able to get plenty of playing time in Austin appearing in 26 of the team’s 50 games this season.
The 22-year-old USC product put up 14 points, 7.1 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks in 27.3 minutes per game with Austin this year.
The advanced numbers aren’t pretty for Metu who finished the year with an average player efficiency rating of 15.2, which isn’t impressive for a big man, and his true shooting percentage was a disappointing 53.3% (51.2% on two-pointers).
Based on these numbers I’d expect the Spurs coaching staff to work on shot selection, finishing ability at the rim, and overall defensive impact with Metu this offseason.
Metu is an enticing player, but he needs to make a big jump in year two if he wants to enter the Spurs’ big man rotation.
Next: Drew Eubanks
Drew Eubanks has become a fascinating player for San Antonio Spurs fans this year as he put up huge numbers in Austin and flashed some skill during his limited NBA playing time.
Eubanks finished the G League season with 16.3 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 2.6 blocks in 25 minutes per game over 32 appearances.
Unlike his frontcourt mate Chimezie Metu, the advanced numbers loved Eubanks’ performance this season.
The former Oregon State Beaver earned a player efficiency rating of 27.5 this season with an outstanding true shooting percentage of 68.3%.
Eubanks proved he can be effective on both ends of the floor in the G League this year, and it will be interesting to see if the Spurs give him a chance to show he can do that at the NBA level next season.
Next: Lonnie Walker
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Lonnie Walker didn’t live up to the high standards set by many of the rookies in this year’s draft class, but we’ve seen the Spurs bring first year players along slowly in the past with much success, and that could be the case with Lonnie as well.
Like the Spurs’ first round picks before him in 2017 and 2016, Walker spent most of his rookie year in Austin where he scored 16.6 points per game with 2.9 rebounds and 1.2 steals in 27.8 minutes per night.
The former Miami Hurricane shot a respectable 36.6% from three on 3.3 attempts per game, but he finished the year with a true shooting percentage of just 50.7%.
Even though Walker projects as a shooting guard, I think the Spurs’ coaching staff will work on his playmaking skills this offseason after averaging just 1.7 assists per game in the G League this year.
The steal numbers are encouraging from Walker, and we’ve seen what an explosive athlete he can be during his limited NBA playing time.
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Overall, this year was a bit of a disappointment from the 18th overall pick, but a full offseason of development could help Walker turn into a rotational player in year two.