NBA Draft season is growing closer and closer, and the San Antonio Spurs will be further weighing their options on which players to select as the big day approaches on June 23. In the modern era, one often-neglected talking point is that there are several players in the draft each year with prior connections to certain NBA clubs.
Be it a family member who works for a team, an ex-teammate or friend who plays in the league, or other coincidental circumstances, the world of basketball stretches far and wide.
Like with any job, a good fit with an organization can sometimes be predated by a prior knowledge of the organization and those within it. Out of the preferred prospects the Spurs have in mind, who they select may actually end up being someone with a previous connection or even just an appreciation for San Antonio basketball. With that in mind, let's break down a few interesting prospects in this year's draft with connections to the Spurs.
1. Paolo Banchero, Duke
The freshman phenom out of Duke, Paolo Banchero actually shares a special connection with Dejounte Murray. Both grew up in the Seattle area, and they were teammates last summer in the Crawsover Pro-Am League. Paolo and Dejounte are well-known supporters of one another and often re-post each other on Twitter and Instagram. Banchero even went so far as to say Murray was one of two NBA players he'd like to be drafted to play with last year.
In terms of his basketball ability, Banchero is an elite, skilled 6'10" forward that has the ability to punish defenses all over the floor. His versatility will give him the chance to be a franchise changer at the professional level. One of the biggest criticisms of his game in college was his three-point shot, but he still made shots from outside the arc at a respectable enough rate (33.8%) that defenders won't feel comfortable sagging off of him entirely.
After his impressive showing in the NCAA tournament where he averaged 18.8 points on 49.8% shooting and made numerous clutch shots, he's projected as a consensus top three pick. With their pick currently projected at 9th, it's likely the Spurs would have to trade up to have a chance at selecting him, but it would absolutely be worth it.