2020 NBA Draft Watch: San Antonio Spurs can strike gold with Leandro Bolmaro

BARCELONA, SPAIN - DECEMBER 17: Leandro Bolmaro (R) of Barcelona pass the ball under pressure Amine Noua of Asvel Villeurbane during the 2019/2020 Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Regular Season Round 14 match between FC Barcelona and LDLC Asvel Villeurbane at Palau Blaugrana on December 17, 2019 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Pablo Morano/MB Media/Getty Images)
BARCELONA, SPAIN - DECEMBER 17: Leandro Bolmaro (R) of Barcelona pass the ball under pressure Amine Noua of Asvel Villeurbane during the 2019/2020 Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Regular Season Round 14 match between FC Barcelona and LDLC Asvel Villeurbane at Palau Blaugrana on December 17, 2019 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Pablo Morano/MB Media/Getty Images) /
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NEW YORK, NEW YORK – JUNE 20: The first-round draft board is seen during the 2019 NBA Draft at the Barclays Center on June 20, 2019 (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK – JUNE 20: The first-round draft board is seen during the 2019 NBA Draft at the Barclays Center on June 20, 2019 (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images) /

Argentinian teenager Leandro Bolmaro is tearing it up in Barcelona and could bring some serious flair to the San Antonio Spurs in the 2020 NBA Draft.

There’ve been rumblings for quite some time that the 2020 NBA Draft would be weaker in comparison with years past, but the San Antonio Spurs tend to thrive in those situations. When the draft becomes a crapshoot and all of their competition is running around, clueless as to who actually has top-level talent, San Antonio swoops in and picks up gems against the odds.

In this year’s draft class, the Spurs have a chance to repeat history by taking an Argentinian two-guard with major playmaking talent and the potential to set himself apart from the pack. Playing for Barcelona’s second-team in Spain, 19-year-old Leandro Bolmaro has flashed considerable upside playing for one of the premier European basketball clubs.

Boasting a tremendous two-way motor and the demeanor to match, Bolmaro is rising on draft boards because of his will to compete and NBA-caliber skill set as a ball-handler, scorer and passer. Taking into account the long process that requires European basketball players to pay their dues before earning significant roles, Bolmaro hasn’t gotten much shine in Barcelona. He’s averaging only 17.6 minutes per game this year but not for a lack of talent.

This isn’t an indictment against his skill, just as playing in Austin isn’t an indictment against Spurs rookies Keldon Johnson, Luka Samanic and Quinndary Weatherspoon. It’s just the way things are, and if you’re hearing draft buzz about a player despite those circumstances then he must be special.

Like any draft prospect, there is some downside to what we’ve seen from him thus far. But before we get to that part of his game, let’s talk about all that Bolmaro does right.

Next: The makings of a phenomenal playmaker

San Antonio Spurs guard Manu Ginobili of Argentina celebrates during the London 2012 Olympic Games men’s bronze medal basketball game against Russia (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/GettyImages)
San Antonio Spurs guard Manu Ginobili of Argentina celebrates during the London 2012 Olympic Games men’s bronze medal basketball game against Russia (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/GettyImages) /

Shades of Manu Ginobili in his play style

It’d be too easy to draw comparisons between Bolmaro and Spurs legend Manu Ginobili due to their Argentine roots and positions, but the truth of the matter is that there are a ton of similarities between the two players. Both began at Estudiantes de Bahía Blanca in the province of Buenos Aires. This is the same club where Ginobili’s father coached and where the Spurs legend began his education in the sport.

More so than just the background, Bolmaro has a lot of Ginobili in his style of play. The young wing loves to play team-ball, making sure that his peers are involved in the offense while maintaining the ability to create his shot and attack the rim with an array of nifty finesse moves. Like Manu, Bolmaro has crafty handles that he uses to manipulate defenders around him and generate his own offense. Even without the help of teammates, Bolmaro can account for buckets himself.

Another way that Bolmaro relates to Ginobili is in his shooting, which hasn’t been very efficient in Barcelona. Though his jumper has come along much better as of late, most scouts would be wary of his percentages through his young, professional career.

With that being the case, Bolmaro is going to get passed on by many teams, but an organization like San Antonio would be a perfect fit considering legendary shooting coach Chip Engelland’s track record with players like Bolmaro.

Prospect Play of the Day: 6-7 Argentinian playmaker Leandro Bolmaro threading the needle off a live dribble with either hand. Has a rare ability to deliver passes from different angles through tight crevices. Shifts defenses with his eyes. Not afraid to take risks. Feel + motor. pic.twitter.com/NzXXKGbgCb

— Mike Schmitz (@Mike_Schmitz) March 19, 2020

Though he’s going to need some work to get to where the Spurs want him, Bolmaro has the shooting mechanics to become a skilled shooter with range out to the three-point line and beyond.

The area of Bolmaro’s game that sets him apart more than anything is his exquisite passing. Bolmaro is a dime-dropper who fits passes into small windows both in the halfcourt and on the fastbreak. He’s a great teammate who likes to play both on and off the ball, reading his team’s matchups and finding the right shot for himself or a colleague depending on what the defense is giving him.

Bolmaro is also a ferocious defensive pest who remains active on both ends of the floor by keeping light on his feet and switching onto ball handlers with ease. He has active hands, sticks to his assignment like glue and fights on the glass to secure rebounds at every chance. Even in his limited playing time, Bolmaro managed to average more than a steal per game and as many as 2.6 steals per 36 minutes for Barcelona.

There’s no guarantee he fulfills his potential, but he’s been dubbed the next Manu Ginobili overseas which means he’s probably a great fit for the Spurs future at a position of need.

Next: Working to curb his streakiness

BARCELONA, SPAIN – DECEMBER 17: Leandro Bolmaro (R) of Barcelona handles the ball against Theo Maledon of Asvel Villeurbane during the 2019/20 EuroLeague Regular Season (Photo by Pablo Morano/MB Media/Getty Images)
BARCELONA, SPAIN – DECEMBER 17: Leandro Bolmaro (R) of Barcelona handles the ball against Theo Maledon of Asvel Villeurbane during the 2019/20 EuroLeague Regular Season (Photo by Pablo Morano/MB Media/Getty Images) /

An unpredictable and sometimes overzealous scorer

If you’re going to be compared to Manu Ginobili then chances are, you’re going to have your decision-making questioned at times. Playing an unorthodox style of play is what made Manu, well, Manu and we wouldn’t change him for anything in the world. With that said, he had to learn from head coach Gregg Popovich to curb his erratic shot selection and play for the benefit of his team as a whole. This is going to be the case for Bolmaro as well.

Much of Bolmaro’s struggles shooting the ball have come from questionable shot selection for Barcelona. He takes ill-advised jumpers with defenders in his airspace and loves to make flashy plays, even when he probably shouldn’t. If that isn’t Manu-esque then I don’t know what is!

Being that Bolmaro is a high-level scorer and passer, he tries too hard to be flamboyant on the hardwood, sometimes resulting in turnovers and fouls. He can disrupt the flow of the game by trying to be a hero when all his team needs is for him to be a cog in the greater machine.

As a player who always competes at 100 percent, Bolmaro can be clumsy and commits unnecessary fouls on defense when hunting for a steal or a block. More so than anything, this is a maturity issue that I’m sure will get sorted out with the proper guidance and the natural process of aging as a basketball player.

Part of Bolmaro’s overzealous attitude comes to fruition when he attacks the rim. His confidence is sky-high, which is a great thing, but that also comes with the caveat that he thinks he can finish anything he takes. Once he gets into an NBA conditioning and weight training program, this should become easier for him, but that’s going to take some work beforehand.

Between fouls, turnovers, inconsistent shooting and overconfidence, Bolmaro could very easily be a player that gives Popovich headaches on his way to becoming an excellent starter or sixth man.

Next: Draft stock and role

BARCELONA, SPAIN – DECEMBER 17: Jordan Taylor (C) of Asvel Villeurbane competes for the ball with Leandro Bolmaro (L) of Barcelona during the 2019-20 EuroLeague Regular Season (Photo by Pablo Morano/MB Media/Getty Images)
BARCELONA, SPAIN – DECEMBER 17: Jordan Taylor (C) of Asvel Villeurbane competes for the ball with Leandro Bolmaro (L) of Barcelona during the 2019-20 EuroLeague Regular Season (Photo by Pablo Morano/MB Media/Getty Images) /

Fluctuating stock and a fit with the team

Bolmaro’s NBA Draft stock is rising as of late with many sources pegging him as a late first-rounder, but his eventual talent may be much greater than that. Even though he’s not projected to be a lottery pick right now, interviews and workouts in the future may change the way he’s viewed. After all, Samanic wasn’t considered for the No. 19 pick until the Spurs took him there.

San Antonio might be able to snag the 19-year-old in the second round of the NBA Draft. Tankathon.com projects them to have the 41st pick in the upcoming 2020 Draft, which would be an absolute steal of a pick for the franchise in dire need of some help at the small forward.

There are a lot of different options for the Spurs with this one. They could trade back later into the first round and pick up multiple picks to secure Bolmero, or they could just take him in the lottery and go all-in. The first option would probably be the smarter of the bunch, but that’s not all. If San Antonio falls in love with Bolmaro and he’s available late in the first round, they should be inclined to make a trade with a team in the 22-30 range, packaging their second-rounder and future assets to ensure they pick up their guy.

More from Air Alamo

Regardless, there are many pathways for Bolmaro to land in the Alamo City, where he’d likely have access to learn directly from Ginobili himself. Even more so than just Ginobili, the Spurs have a plethora of wise players and coaches to teach Bolmaro how to adjust to life in the NBA.

Usually, Spurs fans get riled up when rookies spend their seasons in Austin with the G-League affiliate, but this would be perfect for Bolmaro. It’d allow him to work with the organization’s coaches and trainers to get his body, jumper and mind ready for NBA competition when the team needs him.

San Antonio doesn’t have many players locked into contracts after next year, so having someone like Bolmaro ready to step into a role in the 2021-22 season would do dividends for a team looking to bounce back from the mediocrity its suffered from recently.

Next. Spurs make sense as trade destination for Gobert

There are no guarantees about Bolmaro’s future in the NBA, but the Spurs would be the perfect organization to take on that challenge and help him find his way.

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