Spurs draft: Kel'el Ware is the best prize for the loser of Wembanyama sweepstakes

Kel'el Ware, San Antonio Spurs
Kel'el Ware, San Antonio Spurs / Michael Hickey/GettyImages

It’s no secret that the best prospect in the 2023 NBA Draft class is one of the most hyped prospects in NBA history and for good reason. Victor Wembanyama is almost a surefire star in the modern NBA, but for a team that needs a good center who can play today’s game, Wembanyama is not the only good option. In the Pac-12, Oregon Duck’s center Kel’el Ware is soaring up draft boards and will be a lock for the draft lottery if he takes the one-and-done route. 

On our first draft big board, we had Ware listed as the third-best big man prospect and wrote at length about how he would be the perfect frontcourt partner for Jeremy Sochan. The pair would fit together so well: on offense, Ware can step outside and let Sochan work in the paint, and on defense, Ware can guard the basket while Sochan secures the perimeter. 

Kel’el Ware is the perfect fit and is one of the most talented players in the draft

Ware has been listed as high as the second-best big man, mostly due to his ability to hit the outside shot and use his length and athleticism on defense and in the open court. In only nine games so far with the Ducks, Ware is posting averages of 10.3 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 1.4 blocks per game on 30% shooting from deep. 

The main concern surrounding Ware is his frame. At an even seven feet tall, his 210-pound listing is a bit concerning. In college, that’s fine, but when NBA defenders have 30 pounds on him, he might get banged around in the post. 

On top of that, there are some questions about his ability to defend on the perimeter. I’m not too worried about that on the Spurs team, as Tre Jones, Devin Vassell, Keldon Johnson, and Jeremy Sochan can all manage, so adding another perimeter defender should be the organization’s last concern. 

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The positives are numerous. He can shoot from the floor, pass pretty well, and has the energy and athleticism to develop into a top-level talent in the NBA. Victor Wembanyama is the consensus number one, and then the rest of the prospects are clear second options, but if the Spurs manage to slip in the draft lottery, I would be happy if they selected Ware in the eight to twelve range.