With the seventh overall pick, the San Antonio Spurs select Duke’s Adrian “AJ” Griffin Jr.
Like with the Kings (and unfortunately for me), once again, it’s always a challenge to pinpoint what the Spurs will do in the draft. Considering the Spurs now have three first-round picks in this year’s draft, that job becomes even more difficult. In my most recent piece outlining a potential direction the Spurs can go in with their first-round picks, I noted that there will be countless possibilities depending on how they feel about the current roster.
If I had to guess, this selection will highly depend on how the Spurs feel about Keldon Johnson’s long-term outcome. Looking at Griffin and Johnson side by side, they’re both bruising small forwards that know how to finish around the rim, and now that Johnson has vastly improved his shooting, they are both 3-point snipers.
If the Spurs were to select Griffin, this would mean that they’re once again gambling on a player’s upside (similarly to how they did with Josh Primo) and their ability to reach their ceiling over time. At only 18 years old, I would argue that Griffin is already a more consistent ball-handler compared to Johnson and has less tunnel vision on offense.
While Griffin hasn’t been quite the same athlete since his injuries, he and Johnson are similarly sized and show tremendous strength on a regular basis, particularly when finishing at the rim.
Where I think the Spurs could see Griffin having the long-term advantage compared to Johnson is in both his defense (on and off the ball) and his feel for the game. At his age, he’s already shown some serious flashes as a playmaker, is already a high-level cutter, and generally makes very good decisions. While this pick would be a swing for the fences, it could be one that ages incredibly well if Griffin stays healthy and continues to improve on defense.
If the Spurs believe in Johnson’s upside, though, then there’s a good chance the Spurs will go in a different direction. If the previous six players were already off the draft board, I think some other players to look out for with the seventh overall pick are Jalen Duren, Jeremy Sochan, Johnny Davis, or even Dyson Daniels or Tari Eason.