Like the rest of us, the San Antonio Spurs are paying attention to March Madness right now. With three 1st round picks in this year's draft currently in their possession, there are a lot of talented players in the tournament they'll have an opportunity to select.
With their three picks in the first round currently projected at 8th, 17th, and 24th, they'll likely want to select the best player available with each pick, should they choose to keep them all. But in terms of positional need, it's no secret the Spurs could use some improvement in the frontcourt.
Outside of Jakob Poeltl, San Antonio hasn't had a post player who's been able to consistently produce throughout the season. After missing time early in the year with injuries, Jock Landale has had trouble finding a rhythm in his first year in the NBA.
The same could be said for Zach Collins. And while he probably deserves the benefit of the doubt after missing 18 months with multiple foot injuries, it wouldn't hurt the Spurs to look for some insurance for Collins in the draft.
One player San Antonio should be keeping an eye on is Mark Williams from Duke. Weighing in at 240 pounds, Williams is a legit seven-footer who's a monster shot blocker and rebounder. The ACC's Defensive Player of the Year has been a force for the Blue Devils all season long.
Mark Williams' Defense is Remarkable
What makes Williams such an intriguing prospect from the jump is his stout defensive ability. He currently has the fourth-most blocked shots in a season in Duke history with 104 in 36 games. Back on January 15, he nearly had a triple-double with 19 points, 11 rebounds, and eight blocks against NC State. He's a big reason the Blue Devils ranked ninth in the country in blocks per game this year.
Right now, Williams is coming off back-to-back NCAA Tournament games with five blocks -- the first Duke player to accomplish this. His capability as a rock-solid rim protector is something the Spurs should definitely be looking for in their next frontcourt addition. Having a guy with a 7'7" wingspan and shot-blocker mentality could do wonders for the team's interior defense over time.
The facet of Mark's game that sets him apart from his peers is his efficiency. In 2021-22, he has the second-highest field goal percentage of any player in the country at a stunning 71.4%. The only player ahead of him is attempting 1.7 fewer shots per game.
Some would argue this is less impressive because a decent amount of Williams' scoring comes from put-backs or assisted dunks and layups. While this is true, it's not something that should be used to knock his offensive game. And to his credit, Mark has shown flashes of being a more versatile creator on offense on occasion. Given time, I believe he could become a lot more of a face-up offensive threat.
One thing that intrigues me as I've watched Mark play is how well he times his movements. He consistently jumps at just the right time to block a shot or secure a rebound. Interestingly enough, this is something an all-time great San Antonio Spur was consistently lauded for as well: Tim Duncan.
Additionally, Williams is seemingly always in the right spot at the right time. He is hardly ever caught out of position on defense and plays his role extremely well overall. This certainly plays into his field goal percentage being as high as it is.
Mark Williams seems like a perfect fit for the Spurs if he's still on the board at 17 or 23. With an elite combination of size and interior presence, he would be a great option for the Spurs to get younger in the frontcourt while hammering home some of their key principles of success: defense and fundamentals.
More than anything, giving Dejounte Murray a high-energy lob threat would just be plain fun.