Making the case for the Spurs to trade up for Cason Wallace in the 2023 NBA Draft

Kentucky v Kansas State
Kentucky v Kansas State / Jacob Kupferman/GettyImages

Day 15 since the San Antonio Spurs won the NBA Draft Lottery, and it's still unbelievable the organization pulled off the impossible. They took home the right to select Victor Wembanyama with the first pick in the 2023 class. After what felt like a bit of a strange season due to direction, roster, and injuries, fans can breathe a sigh of relief knowing they have a franchise cornerstone flying in by way of a 7-foot-5 kid from France.

With that Wembanyama locked in, it's a good time to look ahead to the rest of the roster and what the front office can do to enhance his skill set. That potentially could be done through the draft again, via trade. Guards are a big's best friend, and a handful of names stand out in this class that could come off the board inside the lottery. One player in particular who would fit perfectly alongside Victor and the rest of the young core is Cason Wallace.

Cason Wallace. PG. player. 528. . Freshman, 19.6 yrs. 6'4", 193 lbs. Cason Wallace. Cason Wallace.

The 6-foot-4, 195-pound Wallace has been a bit of a riser throughout the year, and he made a noticeable jump on most draft boards by midseason. He's now a player most experts consider one of the safer options in this class, with a fantastic floor as a defender and a solid shooter, both off the catch and dribble. Yet there's reason to believe Wallace can develop into something more than that and potentially anchor the backcourt for San Antonio.

Wallace's intrigue starts on the defensive end. He's a nasty hard-nosed defender that can scale up to cover legitimate NBA forwards. He's easily one of the best defenders in the draft and could end up battling for All-Defensive teams at his peak. Incredible at the point of attack, even with what some might consider a slighter frame, Wallace doesn't shy away from contact. He loves to cut off the initial dribble and force his assignments into taking jumpers or prematurely picking up their dribble.

He has a knack for using every inch of his 6-foot-9 wingspan to create problems for ballhandlers. Wallace is not your typical swiper of the basketball either. The energetic guard wants to get in your grill, up close and personal. Wallace racked up 2.0 steals per game at Kentucky and generated some of the most fun defensive highlights you'll see at any level. He loves getting under the ball and using his impeccable timing to snatch it for uncontested breakaway offense.

The Kentucky standout isn't your typical guard. He embraces switches, where he battles and wins more often than he should against bigger bodies. He is a willing weakside defender who challenges attempts at the rim with verticality. All his habits spell winning team defense that San Antonio has needed for a few years. He also happens to have some of that "nasty" mentality that Coach Pop so often looks for and asks of his players.

Just recently at the NBA Draft Combine, Wallace credited his father for instilling his winning attitude and ferocious nature on the defensive end.

""My dad, he always said defense was the will to want to. It's something that stuck with me, and it changed my game." "

Cason Wallace

Wallace also mentioned some feedback from teams at the NBA Draft Combine.

""[They said] I have a dog mentality that they want to see. I get after it on defense. It just gotta be in you. You can’t teach it. That’s who I am as a person, and it’s always been there since I was a little one." "

Cason Wallace

If you thought his impact stopped on the defensive end, you should be pleasantly surprised to hear that is far from the case. While Wallace doesn't project as a high-level self-creator or go-to scoring option for a competitive team, he provides plenty of translatable skills that make him valuable to an offense.

Cason was a more than capable shooter at Kentucky, knocking down 34.6% of his threes on 4.0 attempts per game. Those numbers might not stand out, but his mechanics and free throw percentage (75.7%) suggest he could turn into an above-average shooter at the next level. While he wasn't the most consistent hitting looks off the dribble, he flashed some positive signs indicative of future success in that area.

Ballhandling was one of the most overlooked attributes Cason displayed. He was a rock-solid pick-and-roll playmaker this season. The 19-year-old loves pulling up for midrange jumpers after getting downhill against drop coverarage when they failed to show or commit. Even when that shot wasn't available, his passing skills were evident. He looked incredibly comfortable finding teammates and delivering the ball with either hand.

Although he may not be the most explosive athlete, Cason uses his body well and freezes defenders with stop-and-go motion and controlled counters to ensure he can make the best possible reads and decisions. If that weren't enough, Wallace showed extremely encouraging signs as a finisher. The Kentucky product converted 64% of his attempts at the rim, mixing things up with acrobatic finesse layups and driving with sheer strength and absorbing contact. All in all, Wallace's game translates to one thing, winning basketball.

Why the Spurs should trade up for Cason Wallace

We can debate night and day about how Wallace benefits Wembanyama and the entire Spurs roster, but one thing's for sure, a pairing like this feels like a match made in heaven. Whether you believe Victor is a power forward or you think he's a center in the NBA, he'll need a point guard capable of finding him in his preferred spots when he's having an off night or his defensive responsibilites leave him drained.

Cason Wallace will provide you with a consistent flow of offense and defense night in and night out. The 6-foot-4 guard can help erase a few of those pesky blow-bys that happened too much last season. He can cause havoc by creating turnovers and allowing San Antonio to get out in transition, where Wembanayama would thrive as a trailing 7-foot-5 monster.

Tre Jones would probably be a fine table setter for the French phenom. However, Wallace also offers a level of floor spacing that San Antonio hasn't had in quite some time. Not to mention, Cason is comfortable working off-ball as a catch-and-shoot threat on those nights when Popovich allows Wembanyama to play free. He's also perfect for a Spurs system that leans on drive-and-kicks and playing switchable defense. This pairing could last longer than anyone expects should everything go as planned.

Moving up to get Cason Wallace could mean San Antonio must part ways with someone like Keldon Johnson. As unfortunate as that might be, the bigger picture is more consequential. The Spurs just watched Jeremy Sochan put together a surprisingly successful rookie season, and he could slide perfectly to small forward. That reorganization would allow Wembanyama to play down a position, taking the burden of defending physical centers night in and night out off his shoulders.

Even after that positional shuffling, San Antonio still has Devin Vassell floating the perimeter as a sharp shooting, shot-creating, stud two-guard and a floor spacing, rim-protecting center in Zach Collins, who plays the enforcer role for your rookie centerpiece. Throw in a well-balanced point guard like Cason Wallace, and now the snake is complete. Wallace and San Antonio could command great respect years from now, and it could all start with a savvy draft day trade.

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