The San Antonio Spurs should look for these three shooters on draft night
The San Antonio Spurs struggles from behind the arc have been a thorn in the team’s side for a few years now. While the rest of the league is letting it go from behind the arc at a never before seen pace the Spurs continue to build their offense around attacking the rim and getting shots from the mid-range.
It’s worked out okay for them at times. They were a middle of the pack offense for much of the season and when they did finally start opening up the offense a bit more things worked out well. The unexpected emergence of LaMarcus Aldridge as a 3-point threat was the catalyst that sent DeMar DeRozan on one of the most efficient scoring runs in franchise history. Spacing matters, especially when your best player wants to get to the rim as much as possible.
When we’ve talked about the San Antonio Spurs needs in the 2020 NBA Draft the two positions that come to mind are a stretch four and a 3-and-D wing player. Either way, floor-spacing ability is crucial to whatever prospects the Spurs have their eyes on.
They’re expected to be selecting in the back half of the lottery, all signs point to San Antonio picking 11th in the draft, but thankfully there should be plenty of shooters on the board when it’s the Spurs turn to pick.
Here are three shooters that the San Antonio Spurs should think about taking on draft night.
Next: No. 1
San Antonio Spurs Draft: Aaron Nesmith is the top option
We’ve covered Aaron Nesmith’s draft potential before and not much has changed since then. Nesmith’s breakout sophomore season ended early due to a foot injury that sidelined him for nearly most of the season. But before then he was on a blistering scoring run and the shooting touch he showed off was enough to keep him penciled into the first half of the draft.
Through the first 14 games, the Vanderbilt wing averaged 23 points per contest and was making a mind-blowing 52 percent of his long-range attempts.
That shooting touch has him going in the first half of most mock drafts but outside of being an elite shooter, there isn’t much that Nesmith does at an elite level. He’s not going to create too much offense for himself off the dribble, looks like he could be an above-average but not spectacular defender, but does have a bit more to his offensive game than just knocking down spot-up three’s.
That’ll be the question facing the Spurs if Nesmith is on the board when they are making their selection. Do they think that his elite shooting is enough to outweigh the potential of other top prospects? Devin Vassell is an elite shooter as well and matches that with being one of the best perimeter defenders in the draft, it’d be hard to pass on him for Nesmith if San Antonio has their choice of the two.
Next: No. 2
San Antonio Spurs Draft: Tyrell Terry can be Bryn Forbes 2.0
He doesn’t have an eye-popping shooting percentage like Nesmith but Tyrell Terry has a strong case to be considered as another one of the best shooters in the draft. He’s got a gorgeous shot, is comfortable letting it fly from anywhere, and weaves through defenders with Stephen Curry like precision.
The biggest knock on Terry’s draft potential will be fear that he will be taken advantage of on the defensive end of the floor. He listed as standing 6’1 and weighing 160 pounds. For comparison, Trae Young is listed at 6’1 and 180 lbs and Bryn Forbes comes in at 6’2 and 205 lbs. It’s easy to understand why teams would be worried about Terry’s defensive ability given the track records of other NBA players in his weight class.
Outside of his shooting ability, Terry is a skilled playmaker and finisher. He’s found a variety of ways to negate the height advantage other players will always have over him by developing a nice bag of crafty finishing moves around the rim. And while he might not ever take on a lead role as a team’s primary playmaker he’s still got the instincts to move the ball quickly through a pass-happy team like what the Spurs used to be, or operate in pick and roll situations on his own.
His fit with the Spurs seems strange at first. Would the team risk adding him to the roster if they’re intent on keeping Forbes around? It seems unlikely. Their perimeter defense is lacking as is and adding Terry in with Forbes would only accentuate that. But if Forbes walks away this summer then trading back up into later parts of the first round to select Terry could be an option for San Antonio.
The Spurs certainly have more pressing areas of need and adding another undersized shooter would be sure to frustrate a segment of the team’s fans but Terry is such a skilled offensive player that he should be on the team’s radar all the same.
Next: No. 3
San Antonio Spurs Draft: Markus Howard as a late-round pick
If we’re going to cover undersized scorers with NBA range Markus Howard has to be in the conversation. Even though he stands just 5’11 and weighs just 180 pounds, Howard was still able to put together one of the all-time scoring careers during his time at Marquette. His 2,761 college points put him close to other greats like Danny Manning and Larry Bird.
Physical limitations aside, Howard can give you buckets from any spot on the court. He’s a career 42.7 percent shooter from behind the arc and was racking up 27.8 points per game in his final year in college. His transition from college to the NBA is sure to be a bit of a shock. He’s projected to be taken in the later parts of the second round or possibly go undrafted.
The defensive issues are going to be there for Howard just as they are for Terry, but both are such talented offensive players that they should end up on an NBA roster.
Howard has proven that he can carry a college team but finding his role in the NBA will be tougher. He’s going to have to quickly adjust from using 39 percent of his team’s possession to likely going weeks without meaningful playing time. That’s quite the jump and how he handles that transition will be crucial to his staying in the league.
With NBA range and a clutch gene that pulled the Golden Eagles from the jaws of defeat more than a few times, Markus Howard has shown that he’s one of the most talented players in college basketball. If he’s on the board late or slides out of the draft, the San Antonio Spurs should offer him a deal with their G-League team at the very least. He’s far too talented of a player to let slip through the cracks.
They’ve got to take care of their business down in Orlando first but it’s never too early to start eyeing prospects. Doing a bit more research on the three shooters we’ve covered could help the San Antonio Spurs nail this incredibly important draft.