The San Antonio Spurs front office is as skilled as any when it comes to identifying talent late in the first round, the second round and the undrafted free agent market. Let’s take a look at some potential second round prospects the Spurs could target with the 49th pick.
Despite exclusively picking in the back end of the NBA Draft every year for the better part of two decades, the San Antonio Spurs continue to find new and innovative ways to improve their roster each offseason. Manu Ginobili. Danny Green. Bryn Forbes. Jonathon Simmons. Just a handful of players who were overlooked by other franchises, but once they got their shot with the Spurs they became role players, starters, All-Stars and some, eventual NBA champions.
While many may believe the best players will only be selected within the first 30 picks of the NBA Draft, there will be a handful of second-round selections from this year’s draft that will out-perform some first-rounders and even some lottery picks.
Although a great deal of emphasis will be diverted to what the Spurs will do with their two first-round picks, San Antonio also holds the 49th pick in the second round, which is far from a throwaway pick. Let’s examine some of the prospects the Spurs could target in the second round of the 2019 NBA Draft.
Next: Dedric Lawson
The 2018-19 college basketball season had to be one of the most disappointing and bizarre years for the Kansas Jayhawks. Between missing out on a share of the Big 12 regular season championship for the first time in 14 years, losing Udoka Azubuike for the season to injury, Lagerald Vick taking a leave of absence from the team in the middle of the season and Silvio de Sousa’s ongoing eligibility battle with the NCAA, Dedric Lawson was the one constant on this team.
Dedric and his younger brother K.J. both began their collegiate careers playing for their hometown school with the Memphis Tigers. The brothers elected to transfer from Memphis after the 2016-17 season and would later commit to play for Bill Self and a storied collegiate program with the Jayhawks.
The elder Lawson did not miss a beat. Despite the frequent roster fluctuations, Dedric solidified his role as the team’s heartbeat, leading the Big 12 in points (19.4) and rebounds (10.3) in his first and only year with the Jayhawks. The 6’9″ forward was also the only player in the conference to average a double-double.
Lawson’s innate feel for the game is ever-present when he’s on the court. He rarely makes careless mistakes, takes care of the ball and has a knack for facilitating the right play for his team. With his size, Lawson fits the criteria of a stretch forward, with his ability to stroke the trifecta.
Although he didn’t attempt a huge volume of outside shots, just 89 three-pointers, Lawson connected on nearly 40 percent of them. If he can continue improving his shooting prowess, Lawson will be able to carve out a spot in this modern NBA.
Overall, Lawson is a versatile scorer who can threaten a defense from just about anywhere. He possesses solid strength and can use his 235-pound frame to post up smaller forwards. While Lawson doesn’t have lightning quick speed, he’s fairly agile for a big and can slip past larger forwards and centers to get to the basket where he’s strong enough to finish through contact.
Lawson is also an underrated passer, using his vision to hit cutters and find open teammates. On defense, Lawson uses his active hands to disrupt passing lanes, alter shots and protect the rim. During his junior season Lawson averaged 1.3 steals and 1.1 blocks per game.
With the 49th pick, Lawson should be a viable target for the Spurs. While he’s an older prospect, already 21 years of age, that comes with experience and confidence in his game. Lawson has a polished offensive skillset and competes on the boards on both sides of the court.
Lawson’s ability to space the floor will be appealing to the Spurs as well as his rebounding prowess. Over the span of his career, the All-Big 12 First Teamer recorded 58 double-doubles, which marks the fourth most among active player in Division I over that same span.
With Rudy Gay set to hit free agency again, it would behoove the Spurs to shore up their frontcourt during the draft. Lawson checks a lot of boxes with his game so selecting him with the 49th pick makes sense if he’s available.
Next: Fletcher Magee
Don’t let Fletcher Magee’s mid-major status fool you: the former Wofford Terrier is the most prolific scorer the NCAA has seen since Stephen Curry. As a senior, Magee led the Terriers to their best season in school history as they dominated the Southern Conference with an 18-0 record in conference play, marking Wofford’s first undefeated season in school history.
Magee and the Terriers continued their historic run in the NCAA tournament, earning a No. 7 seed, the highest ranking Wofford had received in the tournament. During Wofford’s first-round match against Seton Hall, Magee made history again.
Just seconds into the second half, Magee drained his third three-pointer of the game, which also marked the 505th three-pointer of his stellar career.
Magee ended the game knocking down another four three-pointers, giving him a grand total of 158 for the season, tying the second most in a single season and just four shy of the all-time record held by, you guessed it, Steph Curry.
Unfortunately, Magee did not get his storybook ending. Just two days after making history, Magee made history again, but not in the way you would want. In the second round of the NCAA Tournament, Wofford matched up against the Kentucky Wildcats. With Big Blue missing star forward PJ Washington, this contest had all the making of a major upset.
However, Magee ended his collegiate career with a dud. The senior was held to just eight points and went 0-of-12 from beyond the arc, which marked the most three-point misses in an NCAA tournament game without a make.
The SoCon Player of the Year will hope to continue his career at the next level. And with his shooting stroke, Magee has a pretty solid chance of making that dream a reality.
Magee is the best shooter in this draft class and one of the more elite scorers in all of college basketball. The 6’4″ guard averaged 20.3 points per game during his senior season, ranking first in the nation in three-pointers made (4.51) while connecting on 41.9 percent of his long-range attempt and finishing fourth national in free-throw shooting percentage (91 percent).
The selling point for Magee is obvious. The former Terrier has basically unlimited range, can score in other ways than the three-point shot and is the ultimate team player. However, Magee is a bit of a one-trick pony, only chipping in 2.5 rebounds and 1.6 assists to go along with his gaudy scoring averages.
The combination of his lack of playmaking abilities and minimal defensive upside will be among the primary reasons why Magee won’t be a first-rounder and could potentially go undrafted.
Despite those obvious deficiencies, the modern NBA is all about the three-point shot. If you can hit it, you have a pretty decent shot of at least getting a look. If Magee fall on the spectrum closer to J.J. Reddick, who he models him game after, than Jimmer Fredette then he can carve out a nice career for him.
The San Antonio Spurs attempted the least amount of three-pointers in the NBA last season. Enter: Fletcher Magee. With a mature feel for the game and the team-oriented offense the Spurs run, Magee would have ample opportunities to make an impact beyond the arc. Magee could also be a potential replacement for Macro Belinelli as the Spurs usher in a youth movement in the Alamo City.
I would be very surprised if Magee wasn’t available with the 49th pick in the draft. There’s also a good chance that he might go completely undrafted. It’s possible the Spurs pass on Magee during the draft, but seek him out as an undrafted free agent and give him a shot to prove his mettle during the Summer League and training camp.
Next: Jontay Porter
The injury bug has not been kind to the Porter family. Jontay Porter reclassified so that he could play alongside his older brother, Michael, at Missouri. Michael missed virtually his entire freshman season due two a back injury, but he would still declare for the draft and get selected by the Denver Nuggets with the final pick in the lottery.
Jontay returned to Missouri for his sophomore season, but never took the court again after tearing his right ACL and MCL in October during a closed scrimmage. Porter would subsequently re-tear this same ACL in March as he was undergoing his rehabilitation process. Despite the setback, Porter decided to declare for the NBA Draft and hire an agent.
The two ACL tears within just the span of months will dissuade some teams from taking a shot on Porter. As such, while he possesses first round potential, it’s likely he’ll drop into the second round.
As a freshman, Porter averaged 9.9 points per game, while leading the team in rebounds (6.8) and blocks (1.7). The younger Porter displayed impressive range for a 6’11” forward/center, connection on 36.4 percent of his three-pointers.
Although scouts only have one year of collegiate tape to analyze, there’s a lot about Porter’s game that many will find appealing. As mentioned, Porter is a willing and able long-range shooter. He uses the pick-and-pop effectively, freeing himself up beyond the arc where he showcased a smooth release and confidence as he actively sought out opportunities to hit the trifecta.
While he usually likes to prowl around the perimeter, Porter also shows promise as a capable post player. He can use his 6’11” frame to back players down and he possesses a very soft shooting touch, knocking down floaters and pull-up jumpers with ease.
Teams will be enamored with Porter’s basketball IQ and feel for the game. Porter’s an extremely intelligent player who can quickly process how a play is unfolding and has great anticipatory skills that allow him to find teammates for high-percentage looks.
Porter can impact the game as a playmaker from both the post and from the top of the key. In the post, Porter is always scanning the floor to hit cutters and open shooters. Porter is also adept at feeding the post, placing the ball in the spot where only his big can catch the ball and seal off his defender to get to the basket.
The former Tiger can also impact the game on the defensive side of the ball. Porter is a solid rim protector and has good footwork that will allow him to switch between multiple positions at the next level. Porter’s game would be an ideal fit for the Spurs system. With his ability to stretch the floor and his efficacy as a willing playmaker, Porter will find ways to influence the game on both ends of the court.
Once healthy, I believe Porter could be a solid partner in the frontcourt with LaMarcus Aldridge. Because Porter’s game fits the stretch forward/center schema, both he and Aldridge will be able to operate together without creating congestion. The potential for their two-man game is also very enticing with Porter’s ability to feed the post and Aldridge’s unselfishness facilitating players.
The one caveat is obviously Porter’s health. It’s hard to say how soon Porter would be ready to make an impact at the next level. It might be beneficial for both the Spurs and Porter that he start off his career training with the Austin Spurs. San Antonio’s G League affiliate has been the perfect developmental ground where players like Lonnie Walker IV have been able to rehab as well as gain experience playing.
An opportunity to snag Porter with the 49th pick would be an absolute steal. According to ESPN rankings, Porter is the 42nd ranked prospect in this draft class so it’s possible he could still be hanging around for the Spurs to swoop in.
Next: Miye Oni
Yale’s Miye Oni’s story is about as unorthodox as they come. Turn-by-turn in his career Oni has had to navigate setbacks, being underestimated and doubted since his high school days. But, come June 20th, Oni has the chance to make a little history, becoming the first Ivy League player drafted since current Boston Celtics assistant Jerome Allen was taken in the second round in 1995.
A knee injury during his junior year in high school gave Oni virtually no film for college scouts to analyze. As such, going into his senior year, Oni was basically unrecruited, sending tape to dozens of Division III schools hoping for a nibble. Williams College, a DIII school, was the only one to bite.
However, during his senior year a scout from Yale came to Oni’s high school to watch another player, but it was Oni that made the lasting impression, receiving an offer from the Ivy League juggernaut without the head coach having seen him play live.
Oni has not looked back since stepping foot on campus. The junior guard finished his 2018-19 season taking home Ivy League Player of the Year honors as well as being name an AP All-American Honorable Mention.
The Calabasas, CA, native led the Yale Bulldogs in points (17.1), assists (3.6) and was second on the team in rebounds (6.3). Oni connected on 44.1 percent of his field goal attempts while knocking down the three-ball at a 37.1 percent clip.
Oni is a two-way player who can do a little bit of everything. The 6’6″ wing can score the ball at all three levels and has shown steady progress over his three seasons at Yale, developing into the team’s primary offensive threat.
Miye loves to get out in transition, where he can showcase his freaky athleticism, but he can also score in half court sets as well, attacking defenders off the dribble or knocking down a three-pointer or mid-range jumper.
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Throughout his collegiate career Oni has transformed into a reliable playmaker who can initiate the offense in a variety of ways to create opportunities for his teammates.
Defensively, Oni is great at contesting shots and handing out blocks (1.3 per game), which is impressive for a guard. He effectively uses his combination of length and athleticism to agitate opposing players and cause turnovers.
It’s been widely stated that the San Antonio Spurs need some assistance on the wing, and Oni could be a cheap way to help alleviate that need. His skillset projects as a 3-and-D player and his bounce and athleticism will fit in with the young core of explosive hoopers like Dejounte Murray and Lonnie Walker IV the Spurs already have in their stable.
No, Oni doesn’t scream All-Star, but if he can provide the same spark the he did while playing for the Bulldogs, Oni will have the opportunity to evolve into a very reliable role player in San Antonio. He possesses a team-friendly game and oozes the character and intangibles the Spurs front office covets in their players.
Oni is firmly pegged as being a second round prospect, meaning their should be a high probability the Spurs will have the opportunity to select him. If he’s still sitting there with the 49th pick, it could be an ideal marriage between the two parties.