NBA Draft: Who Spurs fans should be aware of
The NBA Draft, also known as Trevor’s favorite day of the year, is near and while it may seem like a fairly mundane task when you’re drafting at the end of the first round, I can’t help but get excited about this year’s crop of prospects. As I wrote recently, this is the hardest year to predict whether the Spurs will draft international or grab a college guy, but in a good way. Talent is everywhere and for the most part the Spurs have the luxury of just grabbing the best talent available, regardless of fit. With that in mind let’s take a look at a handful of prospects to keep your eye on. Again, the Spurs have picks 30, 58 and 60. We’re focusing primarily on the 30th pick.
The Local Guys:
Jordan Clarkson, G, Missouri: Literally a hometown product. The Wagner High School guard has been shooting up draft boards thanks to some really strong workouts. There’s a question about whether he’s a big point guard or average sized shooting guard, but he can score. He reminds me a little of Monta Ellis. Don’t let that scare you though. The Spurs could always use instant scoring off the bench. They have plenty of shooters off the bench, but Manu’s the only guy that can create when he needs to. Clarkson could become an awesome Ginobili understudy. His jumper needs work and it’s unclear whether he can defend. If the Spurs think he can be even a mediocre defender, he’s a great pick at 30.
Spencer Dinwiddie, G, Colorado: Dinwiddie played point guard for the Buffaloes, but at 6’6″ he can play either guard spot. He improved as a shooter throughout his college career and excelled at getting to the line. Really smart, makes the simple play. He tore his ACL in January and is still recovering. He won’t be ready for Summer League, but should be fine by training camp. It shouldn’t be a major issue moving forward, but it hurt his stock because he wasn’t able to compete in workouts against other prospects. Generally speaking, I really like him. I think he’s the slasher and big guard the Spurs need post Ginobili, but generally speaking, I’m also a sucker for big point guards.
Cleanthony Early, SF, Wichita St.: I’ve written about him before, but he’d be a perfect Kawhi Leonard back up and can even power forwards in stretches. He’s one of the most NBA ready prospects in the draft and he clearly fits a need. There’s no downside to this pick, but at 23 you also don’t know how much room there is for growth.
Jerami Grant, F, Syracuse: This guy was a late lottery to mid first round pick just six months ago. However, according to ESPN’s Chad Ford (Insider), teams have found out throughout workouts that he’s still really raw offensively. He’s the size of a small forward but has a power forward’s game. The initial name that comes to mind is Hakim Warrick, who played power forward at Syracuse but never developed a perimeter game. I think, if he finds a team that knows how to use him, Grant can be a good contributor for a team. If he’s willing to work, he can develop a jumper, which will open things up for a pretty great straight line dribble drive. I say great because he’s such a great athlete and finisher it takes him one or two dribbles to get to the rim. If he fell to 30, and I’d still be surprised if that happened, he’d be worth the pick, but you’d also probably have to drive to Austin to see him next season. Fun fact: He’s the son of Harvey Grant and nephew of Horace Grant.
K.J. McDaniels, SG, Clemson: One of the best athletes in the draft, already a good defender and can check point guards and both wing positions. And he can dunk, like really hard. He can’t really shoot yet, but the development coaches can take care of that. He’s a really athletic version of Danny Green, which is good as long as you’re not expecting him to become this creator off the dribble. That’s not him.
Mitch McGary, C, Michigan: I’m including McGary because I’ve seen him going to the Spurs in a lot of mock drafts and he is a talented guy. However, I think most mocks have him going at 30 just because they really don’t know what the Spurs are doing and they figure they’ll need size to replace Duncan. McGary is a good, active big man. Moves off of screens well, rebounds, very athletic. I think he’ll be a good back up, but at this point he does all the same stuff Tiago Splitter and Aron Baynes do. If they draft him, that might signal the Spurs are moving on from Baynes, but he does present some redundancies to the current roster.
Glenn Robinson III, F, Michigan: Of the prospects in the late first round to mid-second round range, Robinson and Bogdan Bogdanovich are my favorites. Robinson is the ideal guy to at least back up both Green and Kawhi. He told DraftExpress two guys he tries to model his game after Paul George and Kawhi Leonard, which shows a commitment to defense. Also, he’s an amazing athlete. Check out the one minute mark of the link above to see what an awesome leaper he is. He can both wing positions his mechanics, which need some work, show he can be a knockdown shooter. He could also become a Green replacement down the road if a team offers DG a lot of money when his contract is up next summer.
C.J. Wilcox, G, Washington: Shoot, shoot, shoot. But he also already has the ability to take a dribble or two. If you watch DraftExpress’ video breakdown of Wilcox, you’ll find that he’s athletic enough to defend one-on-one, but for some reason lets dudes blow by him. He has the size to guard both wing positions, but again, the effort goes more than it comes. This pick wouldn’t suck, but it wouldn’t excite either.
Patric Young, C, Florida: A little undersized, but the strength and athleticism make up for it. Young could’ve come out and been a fringe first round pick. The same happened his sophomore, junior and senior years. Young can defend the post and pick and roll and can block shots. It wouldn’t hurt the Spurs to have someone like this, and Young feels like a guy that could contribute right away. However, the front line is so crowded right now would Young get any minutes with which to contribute to?
The Not Local Guys:
Bogdan Bogdanovic, G, BC Partizan Belgrade: I’ve said various times Bogdanovic (who we can’t call Bogey because I’m not about to tell Andrew Bogut I’m taking his nickname from him) reminds of some cross between Manu Ginobili and Marco Belinelli. He’s a 6’6″ guard who can handle the ball but isn’t totally a point guard. He can get into the paint, but can’t explode at the rim like Ginobili. He has unlimited range and pretty much is a lock to be the next player in the NBA to do the big balls dance after hitting a game winner. It’s a lock. He went on a tear in the Serbian League Finals, averaging 33 points per game over four games. By the way, this is also Davis Bertans’ team so the Spurs have spent the last two year scouting the crap out of him, whether they meant to or not.
Damien Inglis, F, Roanne: Really raw, really talented. Inglis is one of the youngest guys in the draft and already has a NBA body. He’s 6’8.5″ with a 7’3″ wingspan and weighs 240 pounds. He’s 19 and regularly plays small forward. He can handle the ball, especially in transition. He can defend shooting guards, small forwards and power forwards. If he finds himself on the right team, he’s Boris Diaw. He’s an OK shooter, but his release is a little slow. Oh, and he grew up with Livio Jean-Charles in French Guiana and they both went to same high school in France that Tony Parker and Diaw went to. He’s currently playing in France’s A League, same league as Asvel, Parker’s club. He’s been scouted too.
Vasilije Micic, PG, Mega Vizura: Probably the purest, throwback point guard in the draft. Micic really doesn’t fit an immediate need, but he runs an offense so well you have to give him a look. He’s always looking for open shooters. He’s maybe a hair more athletic than Jose Calderon, so that could be a problem on the defensive end, but at 6’5″ and he could use his size and smarts to defend more athletic opponents.
Walter Tavares, C, Gran Canaria: Alright, this is where it gets scary. Tavares is a 7’3″ monster who finishes at the rim because of his size and blocks anything in sight. The Spurs definitely need that. He didn’t start playing hoops till he was 17 and he’s already getting minutes in Spanish ACB, one of the best leagues in the world. He’s also slow and still incredibly raw. The Spurs could certainly use a rim protector but is Tavares just too big to keep up with the pace and athleticism of the NBA? I can’t say I’d blame them for drafting him, but he’s one of the biggest boom/bust prospects in the draft. There’s just no way to project what he’ll become.