2011 TrueHoop Network Mock Draft: With the 29th pick, the San Antonio Spurs select…

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Nikola Mirotic, 6’10” forward from Real Madrid.

Previous pick: Chicago Bulls select Darius Morris

It’s hard to find someone with the 29th pick who can come in and contribute right away. It’s even harder when they’re expected to come in and contribute on a 61-win team. Even harder still when this is expected to be a weak draft when all is said and done.

So the Spurs go with the foreign draft-and-stash tactic that they have been more successful than most teams in the NBA at. The Montenegran Mirotic, coming out of the ACB league in Spain — thought of as the best basketball league in the world outside of the NBA — averaged 8 points and 3.8 rebounds per game this past year.

Admittedly, they’re not numbers that blow you away, but he only played 91 minutes in his first 20 contests for Real last season per DraftExpress. Here’s what DX has to say about Mirotic:

Nikola Mirotic faced the highest level of competition of any player in this draft in 56 EuroLeague and ACB games, and managed to emerge as a consistent and efficient contributor as the season wore on.

Scoring 1.093 PPP overall (4th), Mirotic’s situational breakdown lends itself to perceptions of his potential as a stretch-four. With 35% of his touches coming in spot-up situations (1st) and 47% of shots being jumpers (1st), Mirotic’s job for Real was to spread the floor, knock down his open looks, and make savvy plays inside the arc. Knocking down a very respectable 41% (1.1 PPP, 4th) of his jumpers, Mirotic was able to do just that.

Inside the arc, Mirotic only finished at a 60% rate (5th last), but ranked highly in a few notable categories. He was 4th in roll man PPP (1.371), 4th in transition PPP (1.44), and 5th in cut PPP (1.296). Mirotic was notably average in isolation and post-up situations, making his efficiency as a role-player that much more significant. He isn’t a prolific one-on-one threat, but amongst prospects on this list, Mirotic’s situational efficiency paints him as a tremendously safe bet to be able to compete at a high level in the NBA.

When the Spurs have a choice between drafting someone late who can join the team immediatly but be very limited in the long term, and picking a player who will stay overseas for a couple of seasons and then join the team more NBA ready, the Spurs usually choose the international.

You may now commence your “Winter Shoes 2.0″ jokes.

  • andy

    bill simmons’ take (from grantland, a pretty nice blog) gives me hope on leonard:

    “Kawhi Leonard is one of the most physically gifted players in this year’s draft pool. With his height, bulk and leaping ability, Leonard looks like he could become the prototypical NBA small forward. Questions remain about his outside shot — he made just 29 percent of his 3s last season — and whether he can create his own shot.”

    and

    “CEILING: Gerald WallaceFLOOR: Ronaldo BalkmanMOST TELLING STAT: Hand measurements (9.8 inches long, 11.3 inches wide)”

    them’s huge hands. also, there was a comparison engine thrown up somewhere (hoopspeak maybe?) that rated leonard as 96.5% similar to joe johnson. now leonard is more known for his hustle and defense and joe for his shot and offense, but between the wallace and johnson comparisons, that’s a potential future all-star we’ve gotten. wasn’t long ago that we had given up on acquiring one.

  • Rob

    At this point the only thing that was certain was the draft.  As far as free agency and trades…Spurs (any team) won’t have a direction to adhere by until a new CBA is settled.

    McDyess could opt to just retire and not be involved in a trade.  Also heard the new CBA may allow teams to drop a player they consider to be overpaid.

    Anyway…really no way to speculate without knowing the rules.

  • Tim in Surrey

    Well I have to say I’m shocked at the luke-warm reaction to yesterday, which I thought was brilliant all the way around. I’m surprised that more of you haven’t seen Kawhi Leonard play yet. He’s really, really good and will adapt well to the NBA. He’s not the greatest shooter, although Chad Ford said he had significantly improved since the end of the season in that area, but that’s about his only deficiency. He’s a ferocious rebounder, an excellent defender both inside and outside, and quite an athlete. Plus, he’s actually quite skilled as a ballhandler and passer for someone who was essentially a 4 in college. He’s smart and very hard-working, so he’ll develop a lot and handle the Spurs’ systems well. He’s a great pick, who will make a lot of teams sorry they passed on him (especially Phoenix and Houston!). Spurs fans, relax. Before long, Kawhi Leonard will be your favorite Spur.

    We’ve talked about Bertans, who is a great value in the mid-2nd. And I don’t mind giving up George Hill for Leonard at all. Cory Joseph? Meh. He’s talented but perhaps a bit of a reach. He does have a lot of the same gifts (speed and penetration) and flaws (turnovers and a weak shot) that Parker did at his age. We’ll see. 

  • Rob

    I too thought the trade was brilliant.  Spurs get a 15th pick for a 26th pick and perhaps still get what they had in Hill with Joseph while improving in an area (SF)  they were weak.  Include the upside for Leonard is enormous knowing he didn’t start playing basketball until his sophomore season in high school.  That’s only 5 years of basketball where some of these guys have been honing their skills since 4th/5th grade.

    Not bad at all.

  • Mark B

    I’m OK with most of the picks, although I’m sad to see Hill go.  I hope he gets to be a starter in Indy.  But Cory Joseph?  Have they seen that guy play?  I watched Texas all year, and I have to say … he might eventually be a decent NBA player, but he didn’t help his team much at all this last year.  His passing and court presence are mediocre. It might be coaching, though.  Texas looked like a team that had lots of talent but didn’t play together at all last year.  Barnes always seems to get great talent, but they don’t develop much.  Durant was great during his one year at Texas, but I don’t think Barnes deserves any credit for that.

    Joseph did not develop at all during his year at Texas, and I think he’ll need a year at least before he develops NBA skills. I dunno, I really did not see him as a first rounder at all.

  • Titletown99030507d

    No prob. This guy can turn out to really help us if Pop only lets him loose.

  • Titletown99030507d

    And if he’s not I I would like to be the fly on the wall next time Tony and RJ meet up at the Spurs facility with the rest of the guys. AWWWKWARD!

  • Titletown99030507d

    And if he’s not I I would like to be the fly on the wall next time Tony and RJ meet up at the Spurs facility with the rest of the guys. AWWWKWARD!

  • Tim in Surrey

    Yeah, I’ve seen those Wallace comparisons, too. I get it, as I do with the Shawn Marion comparisons. Joe Johnson, though? That’s about as spot-on as comparing Jimmer Fredette to Adam Morrison. Here’s a slightly more old school one for everybody: He reminds me at times of Big Game James Worthy. He’s not as tall as Worthy was but he’s about as long and he has a similar combination of length, speed, agility, intelligence, and tenacity. If you watch the workout video of him on DraftExpress, you’ll see him working on a classic Worthy move: a spin dribble into a finger roll. I hope to see that a LOT. And I think Leonard has the ability to be the same kind of defender that Worthy was. (I don’t know if anybody ever defended Larry Bird as well as Big Game did.) He’s also got more than a little Elgin Baylor to his game, although I only know that from grainy old ESPN Classics reruns.

    I have to say, I’m more jazzed about this than any Spur draft pick since Tim Duncan. It should be fun–if there’s a season, that is. :(

  • Tim in Surrey

    Anybody have much intel on Erazem Lorbek? I saw him play as a freshman at Michigan State and was impressed but those memories are pretty fuzzy. I saw a YouTube video but it was just him shooting open jumpers. It’s nice to know that he can do it, but it doesn’t tell you much about ballhandling, defense or rebounding.

  • Tyler

    ? Harrellson a Kevin Love type player??? They’re both big men and are white…..that’s really all they have in common…..

  • Tyler

    I agree. Fantastic moves. I don’t really know how you can look at our moves this draft and not think we came out ahead. 

    We traded a solid role player in George (who won’t ever be more than a solid role player off the bench) for our future starting SF and a guy that can play right away. Leonard has the potential to be a dynamite defensive player at a position we really needed (remember George, Neal and Manu getting abused down low by Memphis when RJ was on the bench?). And while his offensive game is still a work in progress, by all accounts, the guy is an extremely hard worker; a gym rat who will work on his game. He’s got a great all around game. If you haven’t seen the kid play (based on the reaction on this board, most haven’t), look him up. Based on talent, he should have gone 5-10 spots higher. He’s an absolute steal at 15. 

    Getting Betrans was the icing on the cake. At only 18, if he keeps progressing, he could be a really nice player. I was shocked he fell so far. Most mocks had him going in the late 1st. Great value pick.

    I’m lukewarm on Cory Joseph. But I will say, the guy is a true PG – not a combo guard, but he can slide over if you need him to. He played out of position a lot this year just because UT needed to play Balbay. He’s a decent athlete, passes it well, shoots it well, and he’s a pretty good defender. Don’t know if his ceiling is really all that high, but definitely has the potential to be a solid backup PG in the NBA. He’s also a leader and a guy that will accept any role the Spurs want him to play.

  • Len

    I haven’t seen him play but I’ve dug up some euro stats on him and read some scouting reports.  He’s not   a great inside presence.  He’s another euro big that can shoot it at a nice clip.  I guess I’d call him a poor man’s Mehmet Okur.  He’s got some good experience and has been a fairly consistent winner in different leagues.  

    http://www.draftexpress.com/profile/Erazem-Lorbek-30/stats/

  • etomai

    I wouldn’t say luke-warm, I’d say that the people who think the FO are morons and post about it every day continue to think that the FO are morons and post about it every day.  Certainly their right and keeps the traffic interesting.

    I love the trade.  I love Hill, and hope he tears it up in Indy, but his relative value to us given our glut of short combo guards was entirely based on the future.  Trading up to Leonard is a huge upgrade (on paper, of course) for our immediate team defense needs.

    Like most here, I don’t know jack about Cory Joseph, but certainly getting an athletic true backup PG makes sense.  A PF or C would have been better, but you have to pick among the people who are available.  Most picks don’t pan out, it’s hardly a science.

    So one great move, one open question, and some nice late-round stashes.  I’m thrilled.

  • Tyler

    If quality bigs aren’t available, they aren’t available. You can’t force a round peg in a square hole. The last thing you want to do is draft a guy because he’s big over someone more talented. If the big can’t play, you wasted a pick and you still have a need…..

  • Tyler

    Going on memory, even though he might be able to shoot it a little, he also wasn’t afraid to mix it up defensively inside. He’s not just a guy who floats around on the perimeter. I don’t know if he ever projects as an NBA player, but he’s definitely played at a very high level for several really good teams as Len pointed out. There’s a chance he might come over eventually and be a decent guy off the bench.

  • DorieStreet

    Someone posted earlier this week Tony for Josh Smith. I think the Hawks are approaching this situation ala Spurs –what can you give us for him.
    He could be are defensive force @ SF, but after 7 years in the league, can he follow the game plan and not go beyond what a team wants from him?

    Also red Dwight Howard wants his childhood friend/former AAU foe to join him in Orlando.

  • DorieStreet

    Agree with you about Corey Joseph in particular and most Longhorn players in general. Skills and basketball IQ/savvy don’t seem to improve significantly in their time in Austin. (And the really good ones always leave follow their sophmore/junior seasons. Example–Dexter Pittman. So much was expected of him, even though he came in overweight as a freshman, but Barnes and staff didn’t demand of him more.

  • grego

    Thanks for the kind words. Busy with work and sometimes fall back on PTR since its more friendly to posting with the forum aspect at times. 

  • grego

    Corey played with RC’s adopted son. I mean if that’s not the best scouting you can get, I don’t know what is. 

  • grego

    Well since RC’s son played with Joesph, I’m going to trust, that RC got good intel on him. 

  • Colin Rigney

    Let’s chill with the James Worthy comparison………….Remember a couple years ago people were wanting to compare Blair to Barkley on this forum.

  • grego

    I’m still very excited about James Anderson. Also happy that Spurs have Danny Green and De’Sean Butler who is a lottery pick without that injury. If he can get back to his VCU days, that’s a stellar signing late last season. 

  • Nima K.

    considering how Pop always benches rookies, and Lorbek’s age and inexperience in NBA, I dont think we’ll ever see him here.

    He’ll be another Sanikidze or Javtokas: Europeans that never cross the Atlantic into NBA realm. Which is why I am skeptical of the wisdom of the so called draft and stash technique.

  • Nima K.

    i certainly hope RC’s son playing with Joseph wasnt the reason we picked him. The least is that if we were gonna pick Joseph, we couldve traded down, and still have him. A 29th pick is something you shouldnt waste. Seems to me, Joseph was picked to play for the Toros, not the Spurs. 

  • Nima K.

    thats a big if right there.

  • Nima K.

    In 2007 Marc Gasol was the 48th pick. And who did we pick for 33rd place? Marcus Williams. And where is he now? I rest my case.

  • DorieStreet

    It hasn’t worked since Ginobili was selected in 1999. (Don’t count Parker; he was drafted in June 2001/ in Spurs uniform and on the bench opening night late October 2001–then started 1 week later.)

    And don’t count Splitter as a success yet. 22 games missed out of the 82-game schedule -where they all due to injury or some DNP-CDs? Logged most of his playing time before the first of the year, on average. 1/3 of 60 games he got in he did 5 minutes or less (translation= cameos or mopup/garbarge time). Would not have played down the stretch if Tim didn;t get hurt. Tiago didn’t hit the floor in first 3 games of playoff series vs MEM.

  • Tyler

    How does one example from 2007 have anything to do with this years draft? Your argument is based on one example? 

    You’re right. Air tight case. 

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