NBA Mock Draft, TrueHoop-Style: The Spurs select…
According to fellow TrueHoopers, the 2010 NBA Draft will play out this way:
1. Washington: John Wall
2. Philadelphia: Evan Turner
3. New Jersey: Derrick Favors
4. Minnesota: Wesley Johnson
5. Sacramento: DeMarcus Cousins
6. Golden State: Greg Monroe
7. Detroit: Epke Udoh
8. Los Angeles: Al-Farouq Aminu
9. Utah: Xavier Henry
10. Indiana: Paul George
11. New Orleans: Cole Aldrich
12. Memphis: Ed Davis
13. Toronto: Avery Bradley
14. Houston: Patrick Patterson
15. Milwaukee: Gordon Hayward
16. Minnesota: Hassan Whiteside
17. Chicago: Luke Babbitt
18. Miami: Eric Bledsoe
19. Boston: James Anderson
20. San Antonio: Damion James
Damion James to the Spurs
Honestly, I’m not completely enamored with Damion James. Not because he’s a poor player–he could step in and help the Spurs right away. But the Spurs need to upgrade their talent beyond what James brings to the table, and James represents a small step forward at a time when the Spurs need to take one or two big steps forward.
From where I sit, the Spurs need to add shooting and another big this offseason. Tiago Splitter would absolutely help, and acquiring Splitter is far more likely (some believe he is already committed to the Spurs) than the Spurs moving up in the draft to select Derrick Favors, DeMarcus Cousins or Ed Davis. But if the Spurs have a decent opportunity to move up, they should do it, even if Tiago Splitter is already locked into the Spurs’ future. Trading Tony Parker for a pick somewhere between 2 and 6 is equitable, provided that George Hill continues to develop.
The Spurs’ Wing Situation
The Spurs lack proficient three point shooting wings. And since Brent Barry left the team, the Spurs sorely miss a third ball handler and playmaker. Damion James is none of these things.
The 2010 NBA Draft contains a few interesting players who could help the Spurs in this regard, especially Evan Turner (who is out of reach), Paul George and Luke Babbitt. But according to the TrueHoop Mock Draft, George and Babbitt are gone before the Spurs select.
In my opinion, this draft contains five players who could become NBA superstars: John Wall, Evan Turner, Derrick Favors, DeMarcus Cousins and Paul George. Babbitt doesn’t have that kind of potential, but he’s an impact player. And from a locker room standpoint, Babbitt is a Spur.
The Spurs’ wing situation is further complicated by Richard Jefferson, Alonzo Gee and Malik Hairston. Jefferson is now an expiring contract, and could be attractive to other teams come February. And his 2009-10 play was so underwhelming, I’m convinced the Spurs could equal his production if they simply turned his minutes over to Gee and Hairston.
Of Gee and Hairston, Gee is more intriguing. When he had opportunity to play NBA minutes last season, Gee shined. Our Andrew McNeill covered Toros home games, and often spoke of Gee as a legit NBA player. And from a small sample size, it appears he’s a competent three point shooter. Gee is a Spur who will receive plenty of offseason scrutiny from 48MoH.
Malik Hairston appears to be an NBA player, as well. But his two strongest deficiencies are shooting and ball-handling. In short stints, he’s shown an ability to defend and get to the rim, but unless he improves his catch and shoot game and ability to handle the ball in the half-court, it’s hard to imagine Hairston sticking in San Antonio. He’ll find a home in the NBA, no doubt. But his future in San Antonio is uncertain.
Mock Drafting Damion James
So we can see that the Spurs’ wing situation is thin. Jefferson will either be traded or wished-well when his contract expires. Gee and Hairston are interesting, but uncertain. And the Spurs need to upgrade their collective skill set at the 3.
What does Damion James does well is enough to justify the 20th pick. He can guard three positions, is a passable spot-up shooter, and can supply a brand of low-minute, high-energy hoops that necessarily enamores players to coaches. Beyond this, James receive high praise for his work ethic and professionalism, two things the Spurs value as basketball skills and not merely character traits.
We’ll see. The Spurs have a history of surprising on draft night. And honestly, I’m open to a surprise during the 2010 NBA Draft. Although Damion James is a solid player, I’m hoping the Spurs uncover an unheralded diamond in the rough or unexpectedly move up in the draft. The gap between them and the Lakers is wide enough that one or two small improvements won’t get Tim Duncan back to the NBA Finals.