San Antonio Spurs Draft Prospect #1: Kessler Edwards (Pepperdine)
Of all players to land on any end-of-season draft prospect lists, I did not expect someone from Pepperdine University to make the cut, let alone top the list. But Kessler Edwards is the real deal and will likely be one of not very many to be drafted out of Pepperdine.
It is worth noting that there is a very good chance that Edwards could go in the first round if recent mock drafts are any indicator. In his last season with Pepperdine, he was among the most efficient 3-point shooters, finishers, and blockers at his position in the entire NCAA. Standing at 6’8″, he would definitely be a bit undersized at the power forward position if he were to play his minutes as the 4, but his team defense instincts and shot-blocking ability with his 7-foot wingspan should help to make up for that.
Kessler recorded 49-38-88 shooting splits this past season and would provide the Spurs with some much-needed outside shooting. He has a quick trigger when shooting, but when he’ll be forced to put the ball on the floor, he is far from helpless as he has shown an only increasing ability to create his own shot off the dribble.
Statistically, he has put up relatively similar numbers to a likely lottery pick in Franz Wagner (perhaps minus the playmaking), but in my opinion will come at a much better value, especially if he falls into the second round.
Edwards’ most eye-catching quality that the Spurs should be looking at is his off-ball defense. Not only would Edwards be an immediate defensive upgrade at his position, but he would likely be an immediate contender for the best perimeter defender on the team given how quick he is for his size and length, with probably the only other player on the team that could give him a run for his money being Devin Vassell.
Assuming the Spurs are able to find a player in the first round of the draft that can address the team’s lack of consistent playmaking and rebounding, picking Edwards in the second round could significantly help to address some of the team’s secondary issues like perimeter defense and 3-point shooting. Unless one of the players in my top 5 list of Spurs first-round prospects falls to the second round, I predict that Kessler Edwards will be the steal of the draft, no matter who manages to land him.
Their first-round pick is obviously much more important but the San Antonio Spurs have a real opportunity to land talent in the second round of this year’s NBA draft.