Mar 7, 2020; Durham, North Carolina, USA; Duke Blue Devils guard Tre Jones (3) shoots over North Carolina Tar Heels guard Cole Anthony (2) during the first half at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports
These players on the fringe of the first round should have the San Antonio Spurs interest
Over the past few, the San Antonio Spurs have done as good of a job as any team in the league of identifying talent in the latest parts of the first round. They’ve had the 29th pick in three out of their four last picks and they’ve nailed each one.
This draft class doesn’t have the star power as last year’s but there is plenty of late-round potential. There are going to be a lot of guys taken near the end of the first round and into the early parts of the second who will end up surprising people.
They might not become All-Star’s or starters but each of these players can outperform their draft position if they end up in the right situation. And the San Antonio Spurs, who have proven time after time that they can get the most out of their players, would be an excellent fit for any one of them.
Here are a few players on the edges of the first and second rounds that the Spurs should consider moving up for.
Next: Their next bench leader
Mar 7, 2020; Durham, North Carolina, USA; Duke Blue Devils guard Tre Jones (3) reacts during the second half against the North Carolina Tar Heels at Cameron Indoor Stadium. The Blue Devils won 89-76. Mandatory Credit: Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports
San Antonio Spurs Draft: Why the Spurs should target Tre Jones
After two years with the Duke Blue Devils, it’s time for Tre Jones to make the jump to the NBA to join his older brother Tyus. The younger Jones comes into the draft as one of the most well-rounded points guards in this class. Yet you often see him mocked in the late first to early second round most of the time.
On offense, Jones makes up for his lack of highlight-reel athleticism with a high basketball IQ and bag of crafty dribble moves. He’s very capable of running an offense and has an improving outside game. He shot just 26 percent from behind the arc during his first season at Duke but improved to hitting 36 percent during his sophomore year.
He’s a beast on the defensive end as well. He doesn’t back down from anyone and this tenacity is part of what helped him become the ACC’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2020.
His high basketball IQ and excellent timing help make him a good team defender and his quick feet strong frame help him regularly lock down his man. He’s always engaged on defense too, a trait that is sure to get him on Gregg Popovich’s good side if he does come to San Antonio.
Next: A volume shooter
Mar 11, 2020; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Arkansas Razorbacks guard Isaiah Joe (1) works against Vanderbilt Commodores guard Scotty Pippen Jr. (2) during the first half at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
San Antonio Spurs Draft: Why the Spurs should target Isaiah Joe
One thing that seems to be missing from the San Antonio Spurs young core is a proven, volume shooter. Derrick White started to show that he can own that role with his play in the bubble but even that was a small sample size. We will have to see if he can sustain that during the regular season.
During his two years at Arkansas, Isaiah Joe was the engine of the Razorbacks offense. He’s a prolific volume shooter who’s shown that he can absolutely light you up on any given night.
After shooting nearly 42 percent from behind the arc during his first season, Joe came back to earth in year two. He connected on 34 percent of his 3-point looks but that’s not as bad of a number as it seems.
The Razorbacks needed Joe to show up every night in order to have a chance. He was the team’s second-leading scorer and put up nearly half of their 3-point attempts. That pressure to create looks from behind the arc probably crept into his willingness to force it at times.
The rest of his game isn’t nearly as exciting as his ability to score points. He isn’t a particularly impressive playmaker, doesn’t rebound at an outstanding rate for his position, and isn’t a lockdown defender. He just scores. But maybe that’s what the Spurs need right now.
Next: A floor spacer
March 9, 2020; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Gonzaga Bulldogs forward Killian Tillie (33) shoots the basketball against San Francisco Dons guard Khalil Shabazz (0) during the first half during the semifinal game in the WCC Basketball Championships at Orleans Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
San Antonio Spurs Draft: Why the Spurs should target Killian Tillie
The San Antonio Spurs might not have to make any moves to snag Killian Tillie. He’s been projected to go in the early 2nd round and could be on the board when the Spurs pick. But if they’re certain he’s worth it, they shouldn’t be shy about making a move to take him.
Tillie would be a great fit for the Spurs offense. He shot 44 percent from behind the arc across his four years in college, including 40 percent during his senior season where he attempted a career-high 3.8 3-point attempts per game.
He’s more than just a shooter too. Tillie has a soft touch with either hand and does a great job of timing his cuts to get into position at just the right time. An excellent passer, Tillie would also give San Antonio another playmaking option from the high post.
Tillie puts in the effort on defense but he’s clearly lost speed after four long seasons and a multitude of injuries. Thankfully, the Spurs have just the player to balance that out.
Jakob Poeltl is a pure post center, he’s got no floor spacing ability. He’s also a great rim protector. Playing him and Tillie together could give the Spurs the best of both worlds. They’d have the 3-point shooting big man they want and the rim protector they need, flanked by three of their slashing guards. Sounds like the makings of a pretty interesting lineup to me.