We are now less than one week away from the start of the San Antonio Spurs regular season and final roster cuts are underway around the league. Most recently for the Spurs, St. Mary's guard Tommy Kuhse was cut from the roster following the team's preseason loss to the New Orleans Pelicans.
With that in mind, even though the Spurs will still need to make some more roster cuts of their own, the team is in a position where they can afford to take some low-risk, high-reward gambles on guys that didn't quite make the cut on their respective rosters around the league. Enter the Philadelphia 76ers' Charles Bassey.
It gives me nothing but pleasure to be able to put Bassey and the Spurs in the same sentence again, as if you've been following my NBA Draft content for the past couple of years, you'll know that I was extraordinarily high on him leading up to the 2021 NBA Draft. Having the opportunity to land the former St. Anthony's Yellowjacket without having to spend a draft pick on him is perhaps precisely what the Spurs have been waiting for.
Charles Bassey is the modern rim protector the Spurs need
Up to this point, the 21-year-old center hasn't been able to crack the 76ers rotation much, only playing about seven minutes per game in the 23 games he played for the team last season. He was able to show much more of his game while playing for Philadelphia's G-League affiliate, the Delaware Blue Coats. In the 17 regular season games he played, he averaged 18.9 points, 10.2 rebounds, and 3.4 blocks in just under 29 minutes per game.
For being 6'9" and 230 pounds, Bassey runs the floor extraordinarily well and has upside as a rim-runner in transition. His athleticism allows him to finish above the rim with ease both in those rim-running situations as well as in half-court sets from the dunker's spot or as the roll man in the pick-and-roll. His strength and vertical pop also allow him to defend true bigs in the paint, protect the rim at a high level, and grab tons of rebounds on both ends of the floor. He showed a bit of everything in his bag in his absurd 37-point, 21-rebound game last season against the Wisconsin Herd.
What excites me about Bassey being added to the current Spurs roster, though, is threefold: his fit on defense next to Jeremy Sochan, the lob-finishing option he'll provide for the team's young guards on offense, and his shooting upside.
Beginning with the latter, while Bassey shot only 30% from the three-point line this past season, it was on a low volume of shots (1.2 attempts per game), he's shown some decent touch shooting off post-ups, and shot a decent 77% from the free-throw line. If he can even become a league-average three-point shooter, the floor spacing he'll provide the Spurs at his position should prove to be very valuable even in a backup role.
More so than his potential, however, I value his fit on both ends of the floor. While I'm still quite confident that Jeremy Sochan will be able to defend some centers in specific situations, he'll prove to be far more effective as a wing-stopper on defense that operates more on the perimeter than in the paint. This is why having a high-level rim protector like Jakob Poeltl next to Sochan in lineups is optimal, and this could apply to Bassey as well. If Bassey can hit more threes on offense, that fit next to Sochan becomes even more interesting.
What he will almost surely add on offense for the Spurs immediately upon entry, though, is lob finishing. While Jakob Poeltl has become surprisingly good at finishing around the rim in his own right, the Spurs have lacked a good vertical spacer at the 5 for several seasons now, and Bassey should give several of the young Spurs guards another threat to turn to out of the pick-and-roll. Being that Bassey will surely come off the bench when he does get minutes in San Antonio, this new dynamic will be particularly applicable to Josh Primo.
Bassey is a low-risk, high-reward player that could develop into an incredibly valuable bench piece in the long run and his skillset complements the versatility of the Spurs' young core. He is exactly the type of player that the Spurs should target early in a rebuild, and they'll have until next Monday's deadline to make room on the roster for him.