Spurs bank on high-flying upside swing in 2023 NBA Mock Draft

Dec 9, 2022; Atlanta, GA, USA; City Reapers guard Amen Thompson (1) shown during the game against
Dec 9, 2022; Atlanta, GA, USA; City Reapers guard Amen Thompson (1) shown during the game against / Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
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Tristan Vukcevic. 44. player. . . C, Serbia. . 29

San Antonio didn’t end up with the first overall pick and missed out on a generational unicorn from France. Why not take a swing at another gifted Euro big in the second round? I learned about Vukcevic through Twitter; the tweet below led me to seek out any and all highlight videos. It is unbelievable how smooth this guy is for someone almost seven feet tall.

I was a proponent of Alperen Sengun in the 2021 Draft (we all know how that pick turned out for the Spurs). The idea of a Popovich system with a center as the offensive hub á la Nikola Jokic or Domantas Sabonis is spicy. I'm not saying Vukcevic will become as good as those All-Star and MVP-caliber guys. But speaking of the Joker, the last time a Serbian player came off the board in the 40s, it turned out pretty alright.

Any player drafted in the second round is immediately a project, so I wouldn’t expect Tristan to contribute early in his career. But just like Amen Thompson can hopefully fill a hole at starting point guard, center depth is also a weaker position on the roster. Outside of Charles Bassey, a non-guaranteed year of Zach Collins, and Khem Birch (who has yet to play for San Antone), there is not much in the way of a center rotation on the team next season.

New pickup Sandro Mamukelashvili may also figure into that discussion, but he is a restricted free agent. Regardless, I’m all for using a late pick on a guy with tremendous upside. Even though Vukcevic probably won't see many minutes as a rookie, without Wemby and an enormous amount of luck and progression, the good guys will likely be one of the worst teams in the league again next year. Why not take a shot on a lottery ticket type of player?

I’m sure it took the wind out of a lot of readers’ sails when they scrolled to the second page and saw a name that wasn’t Victor Wembanyama. And if you’re still here, I commend you and thank you for continuing to read. My excitement for this exercise took a hit when Tankathon shortchanged the Spurs. But the more I researched and wrote, the more I realized there are a several pathways San Antonio can take this summer, and all of them are at least somewhat exciting.

The best path for San Antonio to improve quickly is, of course, ending up with the first overall pick. Second overall would be a nice consolation. But there are plenty of universes where picking third is just as fun and equally rewarding.

Next. The Gregg Popovich coaching tree is a well that never runs dry. dark