The NBA Draft is coming up on October 16, which means The Game Haus will be doing draft profiles for each NBA team. Each day, a new team will be analyzed for their past season, their team needs and projected targets. Today, the San Antonio Spurs will be evaluated.
The Spurs are in uncharted waters as a franchise. Despite making a close playoff run in the bubble, the team finished 32-39, placing 11th in the West. This year was the first time since 1997 that they missed the playoffs and after a quick glance at their roster, they’re not likely to make it back anytime soon.
San Antonio has two former All-Stars in DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge, but both are on the last legs of their prime. DeRozan is still great in late-game situations, ranking top 20 in the league in points and field goals made in the clutch according to NBA.com. He was ultra-efficient for a wing, shooting 53% from the field, and got to the line nearly seven times per game (top 15 in the league).
Still, his lack of a 3 ball kills him as an asset to many teams and makes him only valuable to a team when he’s ball-dominant. Seeing as the Spurs can’t build their offense of the future around a 30-year-old DeRozan, it’s tricky to see what they’ll do with him.
LaMarcus Aldridge turned 35 just before the bubble and has his best years behind him. He still has some use as a 3-point shooter, making 39 percent of those he took, but with one year left on his contract, he’s not part of the Spurs’ plans for the future.
Still, the team isn’t without young potential. Dejounte Murray is a fantastic defensive guard who figures to make multiple All-Defensive teams in the coming years and Bryn Forbes has a promising future of a trusty rotation guy who can nail 3-pointers.
The Spurs need a player to build around, and they haven’t found themselves in this situation for over two decades. It’s an unfamiliar state for the franchise to be in, and they’ll be looking for some value in this draft.
The San Antonio Spurs have two picks in the 2020 NBA Draft.
First Round: Pick No. 11
Second Round: Pick No. 41
3-Point Shooting- The Spurs ranked bottom five in the league in 3-point makes and 3-point attempts per game. The team itself is pretty efficient, placing fourth in the league with 37.6 percent efficiency, but they need to start shooting at a high volume if they want to start competing for a playoff spot.
Center- With Aldridge on his way out (it’s very unlikely that the Spurs re-sign him in 2021), the team needs to start looking towards getting a big man. Trey Lyles can cut it as a stretch-5 on small-ball lineups, but Jakob Poeltl is their only true center. If the Spurs can find a center with range, it would be an ideal fit for the team going forward.
First Round, Pick No.11: Devin Vassell, SG/SF (Florida State)
Picking Vassell here would not only greatly improve the Spurs’ shooting, but it would make for a potentially deadly backcourt defense between him and Murray. Vassell shot 41 percent from 3-point range at Florida State and is effective off the catch or dribble from deep.
His defense is still his strong suit, stemming from his 6-foot-7 frame with a 6-foot-10 wingspan. Scouts rave about his hustle and defensive rotations, comparing him to Khris Middleton and Robert Covington. The Spurs could play him and DeRozan as their wings if they chose to start him immediately, which would be a great improvement on the defensive end over Bryn Forbes. The best part is, they wouldn’t lose any of Forbes’ shooting by replacing him with Vassell.
Vassell’s weakness is creating his own shot, but the Spurs wouldn’t be drafting him for that. DeMar DeRozan already does enough of that and having Vassell for catch and shoot 3-pointers would open up so much more of the Spurs’ offense, especially when he plays next to Forbes.
Second Round, Pick No. 41: Zeke Nnaji, Center (Arizona)
Nnaji gives the Spurs some height, standing 6-foot-11 with a massive 7-foot-1 wingspan. Though he still needs to develop defensively as a rim protector, he can crash the boards and provide some much needed inside scoring. Trey Lyles, though he can shoot 3-pointers, is a bit of a liability with his size on defense.
Nnjai isn’t a skilled shooter yet, but he’s shown signs of developing a 3-point shot. Besides that, he’s an athletic big who can run the floor and finish well inside. The Spurs really just need a true center and with the improvement of his defensive game, Nnaji can be just that.
Featured Image courtesy of Home Depot.