Jabok Poeltl's development with the Spurs bodes well for DaRon Holmes II
The debate on whether or not to trade Jakob Poeltl has never been more split among Spurs fans, and it's easy to see why. He has quietly become one of the league's best and most underrated centers, serving as a consistent rim protector, the centerpiece of the Spurs' motion offense, and an efficient scorer around the rim. Despite not exactly qualifying as a "modern" NBA center, his unorthodox skillset has allowed him to flourish during his time in San Antonio.
One of the more common arguments coming from those opposed to trading Poeltl stems from the belief that it will be difficult to find a center in the draft that will prove to be as good or better than Poeltl, particularly if they're selected outside of the lottery. And to be honest, this argument has some merit. Finding Poeltl's combination of rim protection and playmaking could turn out to be a very tough ask of the Spurs' front office in the draft. And when factoring in the player's fit next to Jeremy Sochan in that equation, that task could get even tougher.
Enter DaRon Holmes II, whose impressive feel for the game and combination of rim protection and playmaking has a chance to come the closest to that of Jakob Poeltl in the past several draft cycles. He's shown his ability to make high-level kick-out passes (like the one shown above), hit cutters moving toward the basket, and can even find teammates off of the live dribble like the example below.
Holmes is just as impressive of a rim protector on the other end of the floor, though, having recorded 2.3 blocks per game in his freshman campaign and nearly replicating that number through 7 games this season (2.1 blocks per game). He's shown that he can effectively defend in drop coverage, can recover for a block when he's (rarely) blown by in isolation, and understands the concept of verticality. Combined with his athleticism, which I'll dive into more momentarily, his upside as a rim protector is sky-high.
What aids his playmaking and shot-blocking abilities and is seemingly a bit overlooked, however, is his impressive processing speed. For being only 20 years old, Holmes is a very decisive player on both ends of the floor. On offense, he quickly recognizes when defenders are overhelping or are otherwise out of position and quickly finds the open man. On defense, he's proven himself to be a disciplined help defender when away from the ball and can read his opponents when defending the ballhandler. In short, he creates advantages for his teammates and minimizes them for his opponents.
You have to take the good with the bad when evaluating prospects, however, and similarly to Poeltl, Holmes' jump shot is not where it needs to be yet. Despite some promising flashes of good touch and seemingly okay-looking shot mechanics, he only made about 59% of his free-throws in his freshman season and seldom took jump shots, even with space to do so. But even so, the positive similarities he's shown to Poeltl could be enough to sway the Spurs in his direction.