San Antonio Spurs: Analyzing 2019 NBA Draft prospects worth trading up for
By Dylan Carter
With two first round picks and some expendable assets, the San Antonio Spurs could move up in the 2019 NBA Draft for the right price.
Since the San Antonio Spurs generally operate from within their own means, it’s not often that general manager R.C. Buford has more than one late first-round draft pick at his disposal. With the 19th, 29th and 49th picks on deck, Buford may want to look into trade options to secure a more highly touted prospect in the lottery.
With an abundance of guards on the roster, Buford should consider packaging someone like Bryn Forbes, Marco Belinelli or Patty Mills with a draft pick or two to secure a top-tier prospect. It’s not inconceivable for the Spurs to move up in a draft as they secured a future-Finals MVP and Defensive Player of the Year by doing so in 2011.
Buford and the Spurs’ brass have a long history of successfully evaluating, acquiring and developing talent from unexpected places. There are a few players in this year’s class that could seriously help flesh out the roster while fitting in nicely with the team’s long-term goals.
Championship contention is the end goal of any season for this franchise, but San Antonio is also operating realistically by establishing an exciting young core to carry the future of the team.
The nucleus of this team is solidified between the dynamic guard trio of Dejounte Murray, Derrick White and Lonnie Walker IV, leaving the frontcourt vacant and without a marquee prospect on their level. Having that in mind, here are three prospects that might be worth trading up for in the 2019 NBA Draft.
Next: Cam Reddish
F Cam Reddish
Divisive amongst draft analysts and talent evaluators, Duke freshman Cam Reddish has become the most polarizing prospect in the 2019 Draft Class. Widely considered one of the most exciting young stars coming out of high school, Reddish underperformed as star teammates Zion Williamson and RJ Barrett flourished under the spotlight in Durham, North Carolina as freshman.
Reddish stands at 6-foot-8, 208 lbs. according to Tankathon and boasts an exciting 7’0.5″ wingspan. At only 19 years old, Reddish has shown the makings of an excellent professional defender for his great instincts and active hands. When Reddish gave his full effort, he showed the capability to lock down any collegiate player in his sights.
Questions have risen about his concentration, pondering whether or not Reddish has the work ethic to fulfill his potential. This may be the case with a less functional organization, but the Spurs’ strong values and emphasis on winning should be enough to get Reddish on track to thrive in his playing career.
Through 36 games as a Blue Devil, Reddish averaged 13.5 points, 3.7 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.6 steals per game. He posted some seriously disappointing numbers with a terrible assist-to-turnover ratio of 0.73 with a lowly 49.9 true shooting percentage. It became clear early into his run under Coach K that Reddish would take a backseat to his more NBA-ready cohorts, effectively dampening his confidence and harming his draft stock.
Still, Reddish showed flashes of who he can become as a player throughout the season by pulling up from deep range and draining 33.3 percent of his triples. He has a pretty form and quick release on his jumper and can operate as either a shot creator or catch-and-shoot recipient.
In spite of his decreased draft stock and questionable freshman campaign, Reddish is talented enough to remain considerably high on most expert’s draft boards. Our most recent mock draft projected Reddish falling to the Atlanta Hawks with the eighth pick.
Since the Hawks have a plethora of selections in this draft and could show interest in trading their pick, Buford should be prepared to make the call on draft night and secure San Antonio’s next great project.
Next: De’Andre Hunter
F De’Andre Hunter
Losing forward De’Andre Hunter to injury during the 2018 NCAA Tournament was detrimental to the Virginia Cavaliers’ hopes of winning a national championship. Without what many would consider the heart of their team, Tony Bennett’s squad was bounced by a 16th seed for the first time in tournament history.
The pressure of his team’s elimination was a deciding factor in Hunter’s return to Virginia for a sophomore season that saw the 21-year-old establish himself as a top prospect. As a result of his decision and the steadfast culture that Bennett has established in Charlottesville, Hunter and the Cavaliers redeemed themselves with an NCAA Final Four victory to claim the national title.
At 6-foot-7 with a 7-foot-2 wingspan, Hunter has the length and makings of a supreme glue guy in the NBA. His three-point expertise blossomed in his sophomore season, averaging 15.2 points per game while making 43.8 percent of his triples.
Hunter is all about team success, aligning well with the values of the Spurs and any organization with a winning mentality. His individual offensive rating was a sky high 125.8 per 100 possessions and his true shooting was at 61.8 percent last season.
If the Spurs want to move up and key in on maturity as a deciding factor in their selection, then Hunter may be the perfect player to add to their core. There’s really no telling where he’ll fall in the draft order as he’s projected as high as four and as low as 10 by many experts, but the Spurs should be ready to pounce if he slips past 7.
Next: Brandon Clarke
F Brandon Clarke
Although he won’t fill any needs on the wing per se, Gonzaga forward Brandon Clarke can provide a handful of skills that San Antonio direly needs from its frontcourt – physicality, defensive upside, efficiency, high IQ and a high motor. Slightly undersized for an NBA power forward at 6-foot-8, Clarke plays with a chip on his shoulder that manifests itself through powerfully blocked shots and staggeringly smart decision-making.
In 28 minutes per game in his junior season as a Bulldog, Clarke stuffed the stat sheet for 16.9 points, 8.6 boards, 1.2 steals and a whopping 3.2 blocks each night. His Box Plus Minus was sky high at 18.9 with an 84 defensive rating and 37.2 player efficiency rating. Clarke does everything within his power to achieve victory, as shown by his .338 Win Shares per 40.
I could sit here and throw fancy numbers at you all day, but when it boils down to it, all these stats are trying to convey is that this guy understands what it takes to be a positive influence for his team. Clarke is a bit older than other top prospects at 22-years-old, but he’ll bring immediate impact to any team willing to give him a shot.
Few players have the combined size, strength, leaping ability and ball handling skill that Clarke has to offer, especially out of the frontcourt. He is a competitor in the truest meaning of the word, leaving it all on the court each time out. If he can successfully develop a three-point shot, which his near-70 percent free throw percentage and clean mid-range jumper would insinuate, Clarke has Pascal Siakam-levels of potential at the four.
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Brandon Clarke is a dog on the hardwood and the Spurs desperately need someone to bring that kind of passion back to their team with hopes of snagging that coveted sixth championship.