San Antonio Spurs: Top 5 2021 first-round draft targets

Charles Bassey (Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports)
Charles Bassey (Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports) /
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Kai Jones (Photo by John E. Moore III/Getty Images)
Kai Jones (Photo by John E. Moore III/Getty Images) /

San Antonio Spurs Draft Prospect 3: Kai Jones (Texas)

By all accounts, this was supposed to be the year of Greg Brown at the University of Texas, but lo and behold, Kai Jones had something to say about that. The 6-11, 218-pound sophomore has only played organized basketball for about five years but has come a long way, to say the least.

While they are very different players in terms of what they provide on the court, I see Kai Jones much in the same vein as Patrick Williams coming out of college: he’s a player with the tools to become an excellent NBA player that played most of his minutes in college coming off the bench.

In that way, looking at stats alone will not necessarily represent how good of a player Jones is now, and certainly not how good he could become in the NBA. Playing most of his minutes at the power forward position, Jones recorded an average of 8.8 points, 4.8 rebounds, and nearly one block and steal per game.

Like some of the others on this list, Jones is a superb athlete that, at the next level, could at least be a rim-runner that’s a constant lob threat. Generally speaking, if he is anywhere near the other team’s basket, that other team is guaranteed to have a bad time. He’s also shown some promise as a potential stretch big, shooting about 69 percent from the free-throw line and a very respectable 38 percent from three (although only on 34 total attempts).

His ability to contort his body while remaining controlled is nearly super-human, which has allowed him to hit some tough contested jump shots and have some crazy-looking finishes at the rim. His potential on defense is just as interesting as his athleticism has allowed him to be a more-than-capable shot-blocker on the perimeter and in the paint during his time with the Longhorns.

On the occasions he’s had to switch onto smaller guards and wing players, his agility for his size has allowed him to guard them respectably well, even on highly skilled players like Cade Cunningham.

With all of that in mind, Jones’s potential on both sides of the floor is just that: potential. Of all the players featured on this list, Jones may have the biggest boom-or-bust potential. His IQ and decision-making are still largely a work-in-progress, and generally speaking, he is very raw.

At the same time, his two-way potential is sky-high. Because of this, by selecting Jones in the draft, the Spurs would be taking a bit of a gamble on his development. Personally, seeing how far he has been able to go in only five years of playing basketball, and considering how well he could fit within the Spurs young core, I would not mind this gamble at all, even if it takes a few years to pay off.

Next: Player #2