Spurs workout Glen Robinson III, Cleanthony Early day of Game 1
The San Antonio Spurs have been holding draft workouts throughout the playoffs, which is probably difficult enough for members of the coaching staff and front office to do when there aren’t postseason games going on. So, if you’re going to pull double duty, why not do it on the morning of Game 1 of the NBA Finals?
According to ESPN’s Jeff Goodman, the Spurs worked out Glenn Robinson III, Cleanthony Early and Isaiah Austin last Thursday, the same day as Game 1 of the Finals. This is probably the first time in years I can remember the Spurs working out three well-known college guys at the same time. When you’re routinely drafting in the final five picks of the first round (or trading your pick to get some extra ammo for a playoff run), you’re looking for lesser known names or perhaps European prospects. The Spurs being able to workout Robinson, Early and Austin really speaks to the depth of this draft. Robinson and Early could be contributors on a NBA roster next season. Here’s a quick breakdown of what each prospect would bring to the Spurs.
Glenn Robinson III: The sophomore from Michigan has been making workout rounds for teams picking in the 20′s and 30′s. Despite his numbers mostly improving from freshman year to sophomore, last season was viewed as a mixed bag. He didn’t step up as a go-to scorer for the Wolverines like he was expected to, but he still showed an ability to be an explosive wing. At 6’7, he’s able to play, and more importantly, defend both wing positions. You only had to watch Michigan once or twice last season to figure out Robinson won’t have any problem finishing at the rim and his ridiculous 41.5″ vertical he recorded at the combine backs that up.
Of course, any Spurs wing needs to be able to hit an open three-pointer. As DraftExpress’ Mike Schmitz brilliantly breaks down, Robinson’s shot isn’t broken, but it needs some work. Essentially, his footwork is just a little off when he spots up from deep. The numbers back that up, as Robinson shot 30 percent from 3 his sophomore year. I’m pretty sure the Spurs have a guy or two that can help GR3 get his footwork right on his jump shot. Robinson’s also not great at creating offense for himself, but at this point, would that really be expected of him on the Spurs roster? He’s a fringe first-round pick right now, so don’t be surprised if he’s there at 30.
Cleanthony Early: If Early’s name sounds familiar, it’s probably from this absurd dunk against Kentucky during March Madness. The Wichita State senior is most certainly an athlete. A 6’7 forward with a 6’11 wingspan means he’d make a good Kawhi Leonard back up that could, in small stretches, play small-ball power forward. The 40-inch vertical and strong body doesn’t hurt his cause either. Early first made a name for himself last season during the Shockers’ Final Four run. This season he came back a more complete player. His shooting improved across the board. The 3-point shooting, in particular, jumped from 32 percent to 38, while attempting one more deep shot per game. As the Kentucky dunk shows, he’s awesome in transition and he’s also good on the boards.
The biggest knock on Anthony? He’s already 23. Typically, that means guys don’t have much more room to develop. I think the concerns over his ability to play small forward has been overblown, especially if you’re looking for him to be a bench contributor. He had good combine numbers and he can shoot. Again, as a Spurs role player, he’ll be asked to hit open shots, be able to move without the basketball and make the right pass if the open look isn’t there.
Isaiah Austin: I wrote about Austin during March Madness when Baylor was playing in San Antonio during opening weekend. He’s a 7’1 shot-blocker who can shoot from the outside. Sounds pretty good, right? Make the pick! Not so fast. Austin’s measurements are awesome. He was the third tallest prospect (6’11.5″ without shoes and a 7’4.5 wingspan). But he’s not much of an athlete, and while he has the ability to knock down an outside shot, he’s maddeningly inconsistent. This season, he only shot 28 percent from deep, though he only took less than two per game. He’s 21 and still very raw aside from the shot blocking. He’s absolutely not worth a first round pick, but not a terrible idea if he’s hanging around in the second round when the Spurs have two picks. Other Spurs workouts have included LSU’s Johnny O’Bryant and Florida’s Patric Young, so finding a young big man appears to be on their radar.
If there’s anything I can glean from this workout, it’s that the Spurs understand they need more athleticism along the wing. That doesn’t mean they plan on drafting either Robinson or Early and it doesn’t mean either guy will be there when the Spurs pick at 30. Still, there’s talent to be had at the end of the first round, which means the Spurs are probably more likely to draft someone that won’t be stashed in Europe for a season or two. We’ll keep you posted on other workouts as we get word.