B Tier: First man off the bench
Jeremy Sochan, Jakob Poeltl, and Tre Jones
I think that Tre Jones could be the starting point guard on a very good team in very special circumstances, but his shooting is quite poor, and the Curry effect demonstrates that a champion needs a point guard who can easily average 25 points on insane shooting. Tre Jones is not there yet, and I doubt he ever will be, but he is a solid floor general who does not make mistakes and can lead a sloppy second unit when the stars need to sit.
Jakob Poeltl and Jeremy Sochan are included as backups. Sure, Poeltl has been solid, if not great, for the Spurs in recent seasons, but his lack of floor spacing and athleticism makes me question his role as a starter on an elite team. Jeremy Sochan, despite being a rookie who does not score, is included all the way up here as a defensive specialist. I would give him the starting nod in some games, even with his current skillset.
Kawhi Leonard won Finals MVP mostly for shutting down LeBron James in 2014, and he was a defensive menace throughout the playoffs and the year before. I see the same tenacity in Sochan, and when championship teams run into other star-studded squads, Sochan is the guy to defend the best player on the other team. He brings a unique value that the Spurs haven’t seen in quite some time.
A Tier: Starters on a winning team
Keldon Johnson, Devin Vassell
Both are elite shooters, not bad passers, good defenders, and solid all-around players. So why aren’t the Spurs winning games? Well, Johnson and Vassell are not the first options on a good team, but Vassell could easily average 23 points on efficient shooting if he ended up as the second option, and when Johnson is hot, he’s one of the best shooters in the league.
If the Spurs add a star in the upcoming draft, I would expect Vassell and Johnson to immediately slot into the second and third scoring options, with Vassell perhaps remaining the primary defender. If these are the guys the Spurs build with instead of building around, I think the franchise is in excellent shape.