San Antonio Spurs Draft Prospects: Centers
Alperen Sengun: Draft
Regardless of position, Alperen Sengun is without a doubt one of the most offensively skilled players in the entire draft. At only 18 years old, he won the league MVP award in the Turkish Super League, which should not go overlooked. Playing at a high level in any professional league, let alone winning the MVP award, is incredibly difficult for a young player to accomplish.
Our other Site Expert, Josh Paredes, thinks that Sengun could be the solution to the Spurs' troubles at the center position, and I'm inclined to agree. Putting up an average stat line of 19.2 points, 9.4 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.7 blocks, and 1.3 steals per game is extremely impressive in pretty much any setting for an 18-year-old.
What could be even more impressive, though, is his insane efficiency. He shot over 64% from the field on nearly 11 attempts per game, which is about as good as it gets for a player that young, and even older players for that matter.
Outside of the fact that he shot almost no threes during his time with Besiktas J.K., people seem to be most concerned about Sengun's lack of athleticism and defensive ability, given that he's undersized for a center. While those are all genuine concerns, I think that they are all a touch overblown and that he will be able to hold his own on most occasions in the NBA.
Charles Bassey: Draft
Charles Bassey is yet another name that I'm quite high on considering how low he's being valued at the moment. I have seen several mock drafts that have Bassey being selected well into the second round for reasons that are entirely strange to me.
I first wrote an extensive analytical piece on Bassey nearly a couple of months ago now, where I outlined several reasons as to why Bassey is deserving of a first-round pick and why the Spurs may want to consider going after him. He was the anchor of the team both on offense and defense for the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers, and as a result, was tied for second place in player efficiency rating among all NCAA Division I basketball players.
In a year coming off a bad leg injury, Bassey managed to record 17.6 points, 11.6 rebounds, and 3.1 blocks per game, which was god enough to win him the Conference USA Player of the Year award. For the Spurs, he could serve as their best rim protector in years while also providing a scoring boost on the other end of the floor. Given that he made about 76% of his free throws this past season, he could even become a floor-spacing big at some point later on.
For a player that could be picked in the late first round or even second round, he would come at tremendous value for the Spurs.
Kai Jones: Draft
Kai Jones now seems to be one of the favorites among Spurs fans, so it should be pretty obvious at this point that he's a no-brainer in my book as well. Personally, I think he's well worth a gamble by the Spurs, even considering that he's still very raw.
As Damien Bartonek pointed out in his scouting report of Jones, beyond his elite athleticism and two-way potential, Jones has all the intangibles that the Spurs could ever ask for in a young player. It seems that he would be a fantastic culture fit for the organization, would fill a position of need, and has a ceiling that could reach All-Star territory if his development goes particularly well. Beyond that, I don't think there's much else that needs to be said. The fit borders on too good to be true.
Isaiah Jackson: Pass
Isaiah Jackson is a name that I've seen mocked to the Spurs a few times now, but to be upfront, I'm having a difficult time understanding why. While one of our contributors went into detail about Jackson, describing how he could bring defensive versatility and athleticism to the Spurs (both very valid points), I don't see much in Jackson beyond that.
Jackson was one of the most consistent players on a struggling Kentucky Wildcats team this past season, but that consistency did not translate to wins most of the time. He showed himself to be a great shot-blocker, recording 2.6 per game, and showed flashes of defensive switchability on the perimeter. He was also a good rebounder and rim-runner for the Wildcats, which is where he was able to secure most of his points.
That being said, on defense, Jackson was very prone to getting into foul trouble. His shot-blocking ability, to me, was more of him jumping at every possible shot attempt and shot fake rather than him having efficient, instinctual timing or positioning. While he was touted as having a high IQ on that end of the floor, I think it's actually only mediocre at best and is masked by his athleticism.
What worries me even more than that, though, is his lack of any kind of jump shot from deep or shot creation in general. I am far from being sold on Jackson as an important piece of the team on offense given that a large chunk of his points came from lobs and putbacks this past season.
In my eyes, there will almost certainly be better players available at the 12th pick and possibly even later on down the draft board, and that the Spurs should pass on Jackson.