The NBA Draft Lottery is in less than a week, and San Antonio Spurs fans are waiting with bated breath to learn whether their hometown team won the Wembanyama sweepstakes. Though the franchise has other avenues for adding young talent this summer, their front office has multiple assets they could trade to add another first-round pick to their arsenal.
The Silver and Black have a proven track record of developing overlooked prospects and turning them into functional role players, effective starters, and even first-ballot Hall of Famers. The 2023 NBA Draft is home to many high-upside youngsters, and Gregg Popovich and his coaching staff could help some of them maximize their raw skills and God-given gifts.
Dereck Lively II witnessed his stock plummet from fringe-lottery territory to late-first-round status after a calf injury and inconsistent performances plagued his one-and-done season at Duke. Nevertheless, the Spurs are in an ideal position to gamble on unpolished prospects while they search for long-term pieces that could eventually complement their young core.
Practically all of his offense is of the catch-and-finish variety. But Lively is so explosive rolling to the basket, racing in transition, and slamming down lobs from the dunker spot that his limited repertoire hardly matters for his projected role in the NBA. And his ceiling dramatically rises if he can flesh out his short-roll passing to capitalize on his immense downhill gravity.
The 19-year-old center was among the most intimidating rim protectors in the NCAA, averaging 4.2 blocks per 36 minutes. He made timely weakside rotations to alter or erase shots and was fearless when drivers challenged him in the paint. While he struggled versus stronger bigs and often left his feet on fakes, he could develop into an anchor if he cleans things up.