What this season has proven is that the Spurs have enough to work with to be competitive on most nights, but they're still missing a few pieces to really get back where they need to be. Their NBA trade deadline was a resounding success, as their trade of Derrick White, while painful sentimentally, paved the way for younger prospects with higher upsides.
Now armed with three 1st round picks and a 2nd round pick from the Lakers that continues to increase in value, perhaps the biggest avenue for improving this offseason will be the 2022 NBA Draft, which is top-heavy but also bound to have some gems hidden within.
Although Jakob Poeltl and Doug McDermott are serviceable starters in many ways, they both have flaws that could end up being too hard to overcome. Poeltl's lack of a shot outside of the paint might make him less valuable as the NBA continues to shift toward being positionless. His lack of mobility when having to guard the perimeter also dooms the Spurs against teams loaded with guard talent like the Grizzlies.
Meanwhile, McDermott's shooting and spacing are valuable, but his lack of defense and size at the four position makes his presence forgettable against many of the NBA's best as a starter.
The Spurs currently sit with a 31.9% chance of moving into the top four of the NBA Draft Lottery heading into the last five weeks of the season. With that in mind, let's look at some NCAA prospects who could make an impact with the Spurs either immediately or in the near future with their special skills.
5. Jalen Duren, Memphis (C)
In just looking at Jalen Duren, he already has one of the most NBA-ready bodies in the league at just 18 years old. The 6-11 center boasts a wingspan of over 7'5 and uses that to wreak havoc on the defensive end for Memphis.
Averaging 7.4 rebounds and 2.4 blocks through 22 games, Duren's defensive versatility is easily his biggest selling point, but his lack of a decent offensive repertoire is a concern. While he'd be a formidable lob threat for Dejounte Murray in the open court, he wouldn't be quite as valuable in halfcourt sets.
Because of how defense-oriented Duren is, he'd be a clunky pairing with Jakob Poeltl given his lack of an outside shot, so his chance to start in San Antonio would probably only happen if they parted ways with their undervalued center sometime next year.