Tier Three: Upside Swings with Positional Need
Not only do all four of these players possess skills that directly correlate with the needs of this Spurs roster, but they have plenty of room to grow and could very well be available if San Antonio doesn't jump up from ninth overall.
10. Jeremy Sochan, Baylor
- DRAFT AGE: 19
- HEIGHT: 6’9”
- WEIGHT: 230 lbs
- POSITION: Versatile Forward
Arguably the most tantalizing first-round prospect, Sochan is a bit of an enigma. His swagger is palpable in the way he plays; exploding at the rim for dunks and emphatically swatting shots from the weak side when the opportunity arises. No matter the size or style of the player in front of him, Sochan is sure to bother the heck out of them with his shifty feet and keen anticipation as an on-ball defender.
However, it’s the ball-handling and passing flashes that make Sochan a lottery prospect versus a mid-to-late first-round swing. He doesn’t rely on these skills, but every so often, he will string together a dribble chain or make a dazzling pass that’ll drop your jaw.
At the end of the day, Sochan remains a gamble in spite of those brilliant flashes. His shooting percentages as a freshman were terrible, as were his sub-60% free-throw percentage. For a player of his size, Sochan doesn’t have much of a post game and finds himself falling behind after failed attempts at event creation on either side of the floor. Still, Sochan’s baseline skills of defending his tail off, attacking the glass and making smart reads in a team set make him an intriguing fit for the San Antonio Spurs young core.
9. Tari Eason, LSU
- DRAFT AGE: 21
- HEIGHT: 6’8”
- WEIGHT: 216 lbs
- POSITION: Forward
Sometimes, you have to give a player credit for simply making the winning plays. Though he’s unpolished in terms of technical skill, Tari Eason is a methodical player on each side of the floor who does the dirty work to put his team in position to succeed. Eason is a talented rebounder with soft touch used to score over larger defenders or finish through contact.
Coming off the bench for LSU, Eason is a selfless player. He managed to rack up steals and blocks at an astounding rate en route to the SEC Sixth Man of the Year award. A versatile matchup who can pester bigs and keep up with wings, Eason is a positionless defender who’s as locked in off the ball as he is on it. He’ll pounce at loose balls, poking and prodding at his opponent to disrupt their rhythm.
San Antonio desperately needs depth at the forward spots—particularly, someone who can switch on defense and run with the guards. Eason fits that mold very nicely, and if he can build upon his 3-point progression (28 made triples on 35.9% from deep), he’d be the perfect fit in silver and black.
Not to mention, his dunks are oftentimes so violent that they seem personal. Eason would assuredly bring some nasty to Gregg Popovich's squad.
8. Bennedict Mathurin, Arizona
- DRAFT AGE: 20
- HEIGHT: 6’6”
- WEIGHT: 210 lbs
- POSITION: Wing
By returning to the Arizona Wildcats for a sophomore campaign, Bennedict Mathurin took a massive leap in his overall productivity. The standard he set during the 2021-22 college basketball season catapulted him near the top of the draft discussion. Once considered a standard 3-and-D wing prospect, Mathurin has shown the capacity to extend beyond his core skill-set to manipulate defenses. A surefire jump shooter who fearlessly pursues the rim, Mathurin has a safe floor with a feasible chance to become much more.
Arizona oftentimes ran Mathurin through off-ball screens to free him up for 3-point jumpers, which he nailed at a 36.9% clip on a tick over six attempts per game. Sets like these are familiar to San Antonio Spurs faithful who fondly recall the off-ball motions used to free up shooters like Danny Green, Manu Ginobili, Patty Mills, and Marco Belinelli. They could easily be replicated for Mathurin who could bring some much-needed volume shooting to the Alamo City.
Between the selfless ball movement and opportunistic, attacking onslaught this San Antonio Spurs core is working to deploy, Mathurin makes for a seamless fit.
7. Jalen Duren, Memphis
- DRAFT AGE: 21
- HEIGHT: 6’11”
- WEIGHT: 250 lbs
- POSITION: Center
Of every prospect in this class, big man Jalen Duren has the most NBA-ready body of the bunch. A bouncy athlete with excellent mobility and defensive timing, Duren projects to become a quality rim runner, paint defender, and glass cleaner. What separates him from the average role-playing center is his aptitude for sticking with ball-handlers off switches and disrupting offense in drop coverage.
Though he doesn’t project to be a star player, Duren has the traits needed to become a high-end starting center. If selected by the San Antonio Spurs, Duren would effectively become the team’s backup center. Immediately, he provides a level of bounce and energy that isn’t replicated by this team’s big men. He’d also be a substantial beneficiary of the Spurs’ pick-and-roll heavy offense while partnering with willing passers in Murray, Tre Jones, Joshua Primo, and Lonnie Walker IV.