With three picks in the upcoming draft, the San Antonio Spurs have an opportunity to build on their exciting group of rising talents.
Of the many areas of expertise touted by the San Antonio Spurs and their front office, scouting is among the top of their talents. After 22 consecutive seasons of reaching the playoffs, general manager R.C. Buford and his staff of highly-qualified assistants have become extremely confident in their ability to find talent in unlikely places.
Buford was able to secure athletic swingman Lonnie Walker IV in the 2018 NBA Draft after many projected the product of Redding, Pennsylvania to get picked in the late-lottery. Instead, the Spurs were able to nab an exciting piece for the future with the 18th pick in the draft. San Antonio is primed to snag another captivating talent this season with their second-highest draft pick since drafting the greatest power forward of all-time in Tim Duncan back in 1997.
The 19th overall pick is just one of the Spurs’ three picks to work with in this draft. Buford will pick 29th with the draft pick acquired from Toronto in the deal that brought shooting guard DeMar DeRozan to the Alamo City. San Antonio has a positive track record with the 29th pick, especially in recent history.
In consecutive drafts coming in 2016 and 2017, the Spurs built some valuable guard depth by adding Dejounte Murray from Washington and Derrick White from Colorado back-to-back. Although they’re seemingly set at both guard positions, Buford could opt to select the best player available regardless of position.
Between their two first-rounders and the 49th overall pick in this draft, San Antonio will look to bolster their depth and physicality at the forward positions while remaining open minded regarding the players remaining on this year’s draft board.
Next: The 19th Overall Pick
With the 19th pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, the San Antonio Spurs select Rui Hachimura from Gonzaga University!
As a versatile 6-foot-8 forward with a 7-foot-2 wingspan, Rui Hachimura projects to be a jack of all trades upon making the leap to the pros. It’s no secret that the power forward position is going through a renascence in the modern NBA. Players like Draymond Green and Pascal Siakam have shown how impactful two-way forward with ball handling ability and high basketball IQ’s can transform a team.
Now more than ever, it’s clear that the Spurs need someone who can push the tempo and create plays on both ends of the floor from the forward position. Hachimura is a respected two-way athlete with a great feel for the game and could easily slide into the Spurs’ rotation once developed within the system.
In the NBA, Hachimura projects to be a versatile defender with the ability to switch onto opponents of all sizes while attacking the glass with ferocity. The 21-year-old will enter the league with a solid frame and high motor in place, so the conditioning and strength training he’ll receive at the professional level should enable him to become an elite athlete.
During his junior season, Hachimura averaged 19.7 points, 6.5 rebounds, 0.9 steals and 0.7 blocks in 30.2 minutes per game. His shooting splits were extremely efficient as he connected on 59.1 percent of his attempts from the field and 41.7 percent of his three-point shots. As his usage increased over the course of his three seasons at Gonzaga, Hachimura’s true shooting percentage improved each season, peaking at 63.9 percent in his final year.
The Spurs don’t usually seek immediate impact from their rookies; they’ll often do quite the opposite to be frank. Most rookies working through San Antonio’s system will spend the majority of their rookie campaign working on their skills in the G League and learning team culture from the locker room. As a player with a lot of raw potential, this fit could be hugely beneficial for his development.
San Antonio is known to break barriers in this league. The 2018-19 Spurs’ bench boasted a cast of dignified players from around the world with each player’s culture represented through this organization’s inclusiveness. Should they select Hachimura with the 19th pick, the Spurs would be adding the first ever Japanese-born player in the National Basketball Association.
Hachimura’s draft stock may very well rise over the next few weeks, leaving the Spurs with a crop of other players to choose from with the 19th overall pick. Some other players they could consider in this spot are Hachimura’s teammate in Brandon Clarke, French forward Sekou Doumbouya or Kentucky forward PJ Washington.
Next: The 29th Overall Pick
With the 29th pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, the San Antonio Spurs select Louis King from the University of Oregon!
The Pac-12 has treated R.C. Buford and the Spurs well over the last few years, especially at pick No. 29 in the NBA Draft. San Antonio needs to address the small forward position direly with Rudy Gay, Dante Cunningham and Quincy Pondexter all entering unrestricted free agency this Summer.
In this draft class specifically, high-level prospects at the small forward spot are projected to come off the board in the lottery, meaning San Antonio won’t have access to them unless someone like Nassir Little or Cam Reddish slips. If Buford opts to select the best available player with the 19th pick, that means he’ll lean toward a player like Rui Hachimura or another big man.
Luckily for the Spurs, there are some high-quality forwards that are projected to slip later in the first-round and into the second. One Pac-12 product that may fly under the radar is 6-foot-8 small forward Louis King, a three-level scorer with impressive athletic ability and two-way potential. His jump shot is smooth like butter and can provide the floor spacing that San Antonio so direly craves with their mid-range-oriented lineup.
In his freshman campaign with the Ducks, King averaged 13.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, 0.9 steals and 1.9 three-pointers in 30.4 minutes per game. The 20-year-old shot 43.5 percent from the field, 38.6 percent from behind the arc and 78.5 percent from the free throw line through 31 games under Dana Altman.
He’s not a physically daunting player, but King knows how to use his size and quickness to his advantage. King provides both the IQ and intangible qualities that Gregg Popovich looks for in his players. Other players to consider at this spot are defensive juggernaut Matisse Thybulle from Washington, Cameron Johnson from North Carolina or Talen Horton-Tucker from Iowa State.
Next: The 49th Overall Pick
With the 49th pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, the San Antonio Spurs select Admiral Schofield from the University of Tennessee!
Drafting an Admiral worked out great for San Antonio in the past, so why not take a chance on this one?
Projecting the Spurs’ second-round is extremely difficult, considering the depth with which they research prospects before selecting them. For all we know, Buford and Popovich could have their eye on an international prospect or quietly productive player at a lesser known school. With that in mind, Admiral Schofield has some seriously Spursy qualities.
First and foremost, Schofield plays with a lot of heart as he makes up for his 6-foot-5 build at the wing position with intense physicality and constant effort. Schofield has worked tirelessly over his four years at Tennessee to develop a deadly jump shot and versatile offensive skill set. His playmaking isn’t particularly noteworthy, but the 22-year-old improved all aspects of his game with each season in college.
During his senior season under coach Rick Barnes, Schofield put up an average stat line of 16.5 points, 6.1 rebounds, two assists and 0.9 steals in 31.8 minutes per contest in the SEC.
Like many players before him, Schofield improved his draft stock with an excellent showing through three games in the 2019 NCAA Tournament. Over that stretch, he made 9-of-19 three pointers for a staggering 47.4 percent from three-point range. He also attacked the glass with mercilessness for an average of six boards per game across that span.
Other prospects that the Spurs could potentially target with their second-round pick are Carsen Edwards of Purdue, Luka Samanic of Croatia and Jontay Porter of Missouri.
Second-round picks aren’t to be taken lightly in San Antonio, some of the greatest players in team history were selected in a similar range. You never know what cards the brain trust of Pop and Buford have up their sleeves.