With the selections made in the 2021 NBA Draft, the San Antonio Spurs addressed some needs while continuing to neglect tackling others. While Josh Primo and Joe Wieskamp can potentially both become serviceable, high-level shooters, the Spurs needed more help in the frontcourt and opted to pass up that help in the draft. By selecting even more guards, the Spurs made another lateral move (at least for now).
It became evident that the Spurs are committing towards their future, seemingly content with being a middle-of-the-road team next year. While the Spurs were more active in free agency than any other time in recent memory, the moves they made won't necessarily add to the win column immediately.
That being said, though, the addition of Melbourne United's Jock Landale served as a much-needed upgrade to the Spurs' frontcourt offense. At the very least, he should be able to come in and hit a couple of threes to space the floor.
While Spurs fans are and should be disappointed that the future is still a long way off, there is some comfort in knowing that the backcourt of the future seems to be secure. Tre Jones is still a fundamental piece of the Spurs’ future, and he will benefit greatly from the Spurs' draft selections of Primo and Wieskamp.
Tre Jones is an undersized point guard who will admittedly struggle in the NBA if he’s forced to be a primary scorer. In college, he only shot 31% from beyond the arc and 41% from the field overall. He can’t reliably create his own shots, but with the additions of Primo and Wieskamp, that won’t necessarily be an issue. While Jones' responsibilities will be to run the offense and play stifling defense, Primo and Wieskamp can come in and score in bunches.
Jones averaged nearly six assists in college and just under ten per game in the G-League last season. Primo is on his way to being an excellent shooter, and Wieskamp was one of the best shooters in the NCAA last year, putting up 46% on five attempts.
Josh Primo and Joe Wieskamp complement Tre Jones' and Luka Samanic's strengths and areas of improvement
On offense, Tre Jones can create shots for Wieskamp and Primo as they have both already proven themselves in college as off-ball scorers. Primo also has good length for a shooting guard and is deceivingly strong and athletic. Wieskamp is scrappier than advertised and is a very good rebounder for his size and position. Of course, he should also come in as a reliable knock-down shooter.
Although Wieskamp could initially be a defensive liability in the league, Jones was the best defender in the ACC for two years, and his defensive prowess translated very well into the G-League last year. Primo also appears to be a much better defender than advertised, and they will both compensate for the shortcomings that Wieskamp may present.
With a backcourt of an excellent ball-handler and facilitator in Jones and two knockdown shooters (in Primo and Wieskamp), the Spurs need to find two young guys to round out the lineup and play in the paint. Thankfully, Luka Samanic put up over 20 points and 11 rebounds alongside Jones in Austin last year, and is slowly on the way to becoming a good NBA big man.
Depending on the free agency moves the Spurs make, Keldon Johnson may see fewer minutes, despite getting some outstanding experience in Tokyo alongside Coach Popovich. In two years, when Jones, Wieskamp, Primo, and Samanic are ready to be excellent bench players, Johnson may be the motor and glue that turns this unit from good to elite. Meanwhile, Devin Vassell could be a starting-caliber floor-spacing small forward by then.
While it may seem rather silly to have Johnson come off the bench, he would provide the physicality and enthusiasm that is needed in a younger, less-experienced lineup. With Jones up top, Samanic in the paint, and Primo and Wieskamp lurking in the corners, Johnson can run around the paint yelling and generally causing problems for the opposing defense.
The Spurs' bench unit may already be set in stone for the 2021-'22 season, but two years from now, Spurs fans can relax knowing that the draft picks we were initially disappointed in can play a very important role in what is shaping up to be a very good team.