San Antonio Spurs Draft: 3 late round prospects worth trading down for
By Ethan Farina
One of these three players would be a great fit for the San Antonio Spurs
Before we knew that the San Antonio Spurs would be heading to Orlando to take part in the rest of the NBA season, and maybe the postseason, one of the few things Spurs fans had to look forward to was the NBA Draft Lottery. After one of the worst seasons in over twenty years, the Spurs could look forward to what will be their highest draft pick since they took Tim Duncan back in 1997.
With a solid young core of Dejounte Murray, Derrick White, and Lonnie Walker, Spurs fans can freely imagine what the next few years of the franchise will look like with one of the top prospects in the draft joining the team. Will the Spurs be able to add someone like Patrick Williams to stabilize the frontcourt? Or could they strike gold and get a top-four pick?
They’re well set in the backcourt for the next few years, this draft should be focused on shoring up the wings or adding another young presence down low. Thankfully those a fairly deep positions in this draft class.
Here’s where possibilities pop up. Right now San Antonio has a 77.6 percent chance of ending up with the 11th overall pick, according to Tankathon. Whoever they might get there is sure to be a good player, but who’s to say that trading down and taking someone with slightly less upside wouldn’t be worth it in the long run.
Trading down ten or so spots to the early 20’s would still give the Spurs a large enough window to draft a talented wing prospect and add another asset to the war chest for later. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush but stocking up on assets is never a bad play, especially for a team that’s looking at a rebuild. Here are three players that would make trading down a worthwhile investment.
Next: A long-range shooter
San Antonio Spurs could trade down for Saddiq Bey
The two things that the San Antonio Spurs need out of their next wing player are 3-point shooting and versatile defense. Thankfully there’s a player projected to go in the early twenties who fits that description to a tee.
After sending quality role players such as Mikal Bridges, Josh Hart, and Eric Paschall to the NBA, Jay Wright’s Villanova program has another player ready to jump into an NBA lineup and make an impact from day one. Saddiq Bey‘s ceiling might not be as high as some of the players the San Antonio Spurs might find at pick 11 but it’s hard to see him being anything less than a serviceable 3 and D wing for a long time.
After an impressive season where he shot Julius Erving Award as the nation’s top small forward, Bey is ready to slide into a bench role for any team that drafts him. He was a top-five 3-point shooter in the country, connecting on 45.1 percent of his 3-point attempts in his sophomore season.
More than just a shooter, Bey can attack close out’s as well. He doesn’t have the quickest first step but he was a guard in high school and he’s carried those ball-handling and finishing skills with him to the next level. He probably won’t create too much offense for himself but he will knock down open three’s, run timely cuts, and play well within the flow of the Spurs offense.
As a defender, Bey was typically tasked with guarding the opposing team’s top scoring option, regardless of position. Even as he is a bit slower than some wings a low center of gravity, agile feet, and a 6’11 wingspan help him step up and guard point guards when necessary. He doesn’t get a ton of steals or blocks and doesn’t project to be a lockdown defender in the Kawhi Leonard echelon, but he’s not going to get burned and will hold his own against almost everyone he matches up against.
Outside of his 3-point shooting, he doesn’t have another elite-level skill but he’s not bad at anything. Coming from Jay Wright’s program you know he’s going to be a solid player that you can depend on whenever he’s on the floor. He fits exactly what the Spurs are looking for, and if they can pick up another asset on their way to getting him they’ll be all the better set for the future because of it.
Next: New era Manu
San Antonio Spurs could trade down for Leandro Bolmaro
A bit riskier of a pick for San Antonio would be going with another Argentinan with a flair for the creative in Leandro Bolmaro. It feels slightly unfair to begin comparing Bolmaro to a Spurs legend before he’s even been drafted but the similarities between him and Manu Ginobili are striking.
Both began at Estudiantes de Bahía Blanca in Argentina and both spent time in Europe before coming to play in the NBA. They’re both solidly sized creative passers and shooters. But while Manu was already one of the top players in the world when he came to San Antonio, Bolmaro’s journey is just beginning.
He’s just 19-years-old with plenty of room for growth. He struggles from behind the arc right now, only connecting on 30 percent of his 3-point attempts, but we’ve seen noted Spurs assistant coach Chip Engelland turn poor shooters into serviceable marksmen before so that should be less of a point of concern for San Antonio as it might be for other teams.
What truly stands out about Bolmaro’s game is his ability as a passer, especially when he’s hitting his teammates with outlet passes or in transition. Watching him whip one-handed bounce passes three-quarters of the court right into the waiting hands of a teammate for an easy basket is a thing of beauty.
More than just a transition threat, Bolmaro has a solid feel for operating in half-court sets. He uses a variety of shifty change of pace moves to create space and get off a nice floater to score or he’s comfortable putting passes into tight windows inside as well. The only worry is if the moves he uses to create space right now will be as effective at the next level.
He can stand to pack on muscle, but at 6’7 Bolmaro already has the height and speed to be a pest on the defensive end. He’s constantly moving and is always aware of where the ball is, he uses this to get into passing lanes and get steals or at least disrupt the flow of the offense.
There’s certainly a degree of risk associated with Bolmaro, but given the Spurs track record of developing players and their history with Argentinan playmakers, it might just be worth it.
Next: A high-flying wing
San Antonio Spurs could trade down for Josh Green
The two players we’ve just covered each had their unique skill. Bey is a shooter, Bolmaro is a playmaker, Arizona’s Josh Green is a top-end athlete, one of the best in this draft class. Lonnie Walker currently holds the title of ‘Most Athletic Spur’ and Green could give him a run for his money.
He’s a blur in transition, stands 6’6 with a 6’10 wingspan, and can jump out of the gym. The challenge for any team that drafts him will be taking all of that athleticism and harnessing it into something constructive.
The first thing that comes to mind looking at Green’s game is his potential as a lockdown defensive wing, something the San Antonio Spurs desperately need right now. Ever since they traded Danny Green and Kawhi Leonard to the Toronto Raptors they’ve been getting burned on the wings. Lonnie Walker and Keldon Johnson show potential there, Green can come in and add another man who can hold down the perimeter for the Spurs.
He moves his feet well, he has the speed to stay with quicker guards and also man up and play with physical wings. He’s not afraid to throw himself into the mess down low and fight for rebounds either, he averaged 8.4 boards per possession in his lone season at Arizona.
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His physicality gives him the tools to be a plus defender, but what can he bring on the offensive end of the floor? Green is going to need others to create for him, and even then it’s not a sure thing that he’s ever going to be an impact player on offense.
He shot just 42 percent from the field and 36 percent from behind the arc. He’s also got a way to go as a passer. He did assist on 16 percent of the Wildcats possessions when he was on the floor but also averaged 4.8 assists to 3 turnovers per 100 possessions, that’s not a ratio that he should be comfortable with.
Green is incredibly talented but a bit raw, he’s going to need to work on figuring out exactly what role he needs to fill in order to succeed at the next level and then devote himself to it. He could benefit from coming to a team with an established and proven development program such as the Spurs. They’ve turned numerous late-round picks into above-average NBA players by working them through the Austin Spurs, Josh Green could be next in line.
It would be tough to pass up on their highest draft pick in over two decades but if the San Antonio Spurs feel comfortable trading down to acquire more picks for the future, any one of these three players would be a great draft selection.