The Spurs have positioned themselves to be in contention for a Top-5 pick in the 2023 NBA Draft through the first two months of the season, leaving fans of the Silver and Black with dreams of Victor Wembanyama and Scoot Henderson. Some of the other potential prospects in a deep 2023 class include Nick Smith Jr., the Thompson twins, Cam Whitmore, and Keyonte George, just to name a few in a deep draft class.
However, it's important for the Spurs to also keep their eyes open on which players they may have to choose from who are further down draft boards as well. While there's no wrong answer for who the Spurs should take with a late 1st round or early 2nd round pick (yet), Syracuse freshman Judah Mintz is a name that should stick out to them in particular. I might be a little biased as a current Syracuse student, but that has also given me an opportunity to study his game more closely, and I think that the freshman guard has some assets that could prove to be very valuable to the Spurs as a role player on a rebuilding team.
Judah Mintz can fill in as the Spurs' lead guard off the bench
Right now, the Spurs' depth chart at the guard position consists of Tre Jones, Devin Vassell, Josh Richardson, Blake Wesley, Malakai Branham, and Romeo Langford. Of these players, there's a very good chance that Richardson will get traded around the deadline to a playoff team in need of his services as a 3-and-D wing.
Of the current guards on the roster, Tre Jones is the only guy that I would consider to be a "true" point guard. The others, except perhaps Vassell, are closer to fitting Josh Richardson's role than serving as a combo guard who can run the 1 and the 2 on a regular basis. This is where a guy like Judah Mintz could slide in and develop as a backup point guard to Tre Jones (or possibly the third-string if the Spurs are lucky enough to draft Scoot Henderson with their first-round pick).
Through the first 15 games of the season for the Orange, Mintz is leading the team in assists per game (4.2), steals per game (2.3), as well as second on the team in scoring (15.8). While he may not look very imposing at 6'3" with a 170-pound frame, that doesn't stop Mintz from playing explosive, physical basketball every time he touches the floor. But the main thing that sticks out about his game is his ability as a three-level scorer.
He can use his quickness to blow by opposing defenders and finish around the rim with great body control. As he's also an elite ball-handler, whether it's coming off of a screen or in isolation, he is easily able to get to his spots and rise up for mid-range shots.
In head coach Jim Boeheim's infamous 2-3 zone defense, Judah Mintz has displayed a knack for reading and getting into passing lanes, while also being capable of guarding the other team's primary ball-handler when the zone breaks down. His high energy on the defensive end often leads to fast break opportunities for Syracuse, where he can push the ball down the court to drive to the hoop or look to find an open teammate.
While Mintz is an NBA-caliber player with the strengths that he has, one part of his game that will need quite a bit of work is his three-point shot. He's currently shooting a paltry 17.2% from beyond the arc on only 1.9 attempts per game.
This might be a concern to teams looking to draft guards, but it's no secret that the Spurs have a great track record when it comes to improving the jump shots of their young guys. Whether it's been Tony Parker, Kawhi Leonard, or even Jeremy Sochan this year, the Spurs are a team that prioritizes getting the most out of their players by improving their shooting early in their careers.
If Judah Mintz is available for the Spurs in the late 1st or 2nd round of this year's draft, he will have the opportunity to slot in as a three-level scorer off of the bench that the Spurs haven't really had in a long time. Obviously, depending on who the Silver and Black decide to take with their first-round pick, their needs at the guard position could quickly change. However, I still wouldn't sleep on Judah Mintz, and I'm excited to watch him develop throughout the next few months with the Orange.