Way back when in 2016, the San Antonio Spurs traded their 2022 second-round pick to the Utah Jazz in the swap that saw Boris Diaw end his career in the Silver and Black. Without their second-round pick, they still manage to have the normal amount of two selections to make in the upcoming 2022 NBA Draft.
The San Antonio Spurs own the rights to their own first-round pick as well as the most favorable second-round pick between the Wizards, Lakers, and Pistons. The Wizards are a middling seven seed in the East currently and their second-round pick is not much to get excited for. The Lakers are also treading water, although a late-season implosion might be in the cards.
Despite the Lakers' best efforts, the Detroit Pistons are on pace to be one of the worst NBA teams ever, much to the continued woe of my community. Bad for Detroit, but good for San Antonio, as the Spurs are poised to have the 31st overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft.
While picking 31st does not seem like a reason to get excited, Derrick White, Dejounte Murray, and Keldon Johnson were all selected at 29th overall. For the numbers people, that’s only two spots away from where San Antonio is slated to pick.
In case that’s not enough to sway you, there have been several successful NBA players taken at the 31st spot, including Danny Ainge, Manute Bol, Doc Rivers, Bojan Bogdanović, and Gilbert Arenas. While none of those guys are Hall of Famers, they were or are productive starters. Coupled with the fact that the Spurs are (in)famous around the league for finding talent where no one else can, and with such a high second-round pick, the Spurs should absolutely be able to find a difference-maker.
While predicting the second round (and who will even be there) is tough, I’ve compiled three players who could be a good fit on the Spurs and who should still be there in the early second round.
Jamal Cain - Oakland University
Jamal Cain is a fifth-year senior for Oakland University and spent his first four seasons as a Golden Eagle in Marquette. He is the eighth-best scorer in the country with 21.1 points per game on 60% shooting from inside the arc and 30% from deep. He’s 6’7” and a spindly 200 pounds but still manages to grab 10 rebounds a game, good for 28th in the country.
Oh, and he also has five double-doubles.
Based on his relatively poor shooting, I think Cain is a poor man’s Keldon Johnson, which is not an insult at all. He’s a menace on defense and can score off the dribble and in the post, so despite his age (22), he could be a solid second-round pickup.
The biggest issue with Cain is the fact that he plays in the mid-major Horizon League. After Butler left for the Big East in 2013, the competition has really slimmed out. However, when the Golden Grizzlies played West Virginia, Oklahoma State, Alabama, and tenth ranked Michigan State, Cain put up 15, 14, 31, and 20 points, respectively. He also managed to average nine rebounds in those games, so taking on larger and more talented competition is not a huge adjustment for him to make.
While Jamal Cain’s older age and generally weak competition might turn front offices off of him, it will almost certainly propel him into the second round. If the Spurs want him, he’ll be there, and he should be a punch off the bench right from the start.