San Antonio Spurs: Constructing the ideal 2021-22 bench unit

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San Antonio Spurs
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San Antonio Spurs C: Kai Jones

Kai Jones is big, tall, and long. He’s also a high-risk player to take at 12th overall, but the Spurs need to roll the dice on a high-impact player. He can dominate the paint once he gets some professional experience and could become a defensive force.

Jakob Poeltl is a defensive mastermind and one of the most underrated in the league. Jones could eventually become just as good, if not better. 

Jones has a great work ethic, so there’s no reason to doubt that he can become a great talent. He just recently started playing competitive basketball but was named the Big 12 Sixth Man of the Year in his one and only season with the Longhorns. 

He has shown promise that he can score from anywhere, and the Spurs have not had a dangerously athletic big since David Robinson. He’s strong and powerful and can snatch boards away from anyone. Honestly, his ceiling reminds me of Zion Williamson, although his floor is admittedly much lower than that. 

No matter who the Spurs select with the 12th overall pick later this month, that player needs to be given an immediate role within the organization so the team’s direction heading forward is clear. Vassell did not get many minutes this last season, and I believe he would have been voted to an All-Rookie team if he had an appropriate amount of minutes.

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Playing a major role in the second unit, Jones will be turnover-prone and occasionally make poor decisions with the ball, but when he’s on he’ll dominate the game. In some games, Dieng may get more playing time simply because Kai Jones isn’t being productive, but in order to build talent and become a refined, modern center, Jones should be the first option coming off the bench to relieve Poeltl.