In back to back seasons, the San Antonio Spurs have missed the NBA Playoffs. In Greg Popovich’s tenure, the Spurs are used to deep postseason play. However, after Kawhi Leonard’s departure San Antonio is working on a new core. This season, the Spurs finished 33-39, which was good for 10th in the Western conference. San Antonio narrowly lost to the Memphis Grizzlies in the NBA Play-In games.
While San Antonio’s overall season was not a success, they did have some young pieces improve. For example, Dejounte Murray had a career-high season averaging 15.7 points, 5.4 assists and 7.1 rebounds. In addition, Derrick White had a career-high season with 15.4 points per contest. San Antonio could be set in their backcourt going forward with Murray and White. The Spurs also saw improved play in their young forward Keldon Johnson. Johnson averaged over 12 points per game while shooting over 47%. The 7-foot-1 center Jakob Poeltl could be San Antonio’s starting center going forward after an impressive defensive season. Clearly, the Spurs have some hopeful upcoming talent. This rising talent alongside veterans like Demar DeRozan could produce some success. However, to really take that next step for playoff contention San Antonio must add some young talent in this year’s draft.
The San Antonio Spurs have two picks in the 2021 NBA Draft.
First Round: Pick No. 12
Second Round: Pick No. 41
Power Forward- The Spurs will likely look for frontcourt help in the 2021 NBA Draft. San Antonio currently has a crowded backcourt with Murray, White, Lonnie Walker and Patty Mills. Therefore, San Antonio will likely avoid drafting another guard. The power forward position is lacking for the Spurs right now. After parting ways with Lemarcus Aldridge, the Spurs tried out several players at power forward. Rudy Gay played quite a bit of power forward after Aldridge was released. Besides Gay, San Antonio played DeRozan and Johnson out of position at power forward sometimes. The Spurs also have Trey Lyles off the bench. Clearly, San Antonio must look to improve and add depth to the power forward position.
Center Depth- One of San Antonio’s other needs is also in the frontcourt. As mentioned, the Spurs could be set at their starting center position with Poeltl. On the other hand, behind Poeltl the Spurs are lacking center depth. Gorgui Dieng saw some time at center, but rarely played. The Spurs will likely target some height at 6-foot-11 or taller as well, since Poeltl is the only 7-footer on the roster.
Round 1, Pick 12: Ziaire Williams, SF (Stanford)
Ziaire Williams was once seen as a possible top eight pick. After struggling in his freshman season at Stanford, Williams stock dropped. Williams stands at 6-foot-9 with a 6-foot-10 wingspan and weighs only 188 pounds. Of course, Williams will need to add some weight to his frame. He may not address the power forward position since he is seen as a wing scorer. Since San Antonio already has DeRozan and Johnson at small forward, why would the Spurs take another wing? First off, rumors have questioned how much longer will DeRozan be a Spur. Williams and Johnson could work well at small forward, if DeRozan left the Spurs.
Furthermore, Williams provides a unique and rare skillset with elite potential. Due to his mobility, Williams has versatility to play shooting guard or small forward. Williams could even play power forward in a small ball lineup if he bulks up some. Williams will bring good length to San Antonio. He showed some defensive ability at Stanford, and could be an immediate good NBA defender. Offensively, Williams has the potential to be a dangerous shot creator at the next level.
Misses the pull up but this is the shot creation upside that Ziaire Williams shows. Nasty crossover on one of this drafts most experienced perimeter defenders and the length to be generally unaffected by the contest. Just a bit strong on the shot. pic.twitter.com/JOJ9aXzmg6
— Tyler Metcalf (@tmetcalf11) June 29, 2021
While Williams did make some impressive heavily-contested shots in college, he must improve his IQ some and learn to pass out of certain situations. Overall, Williams’ potential could be too good to pass up on at 12.
Round 2, Pick 41: Filip Petrusev, PF/C (Serbia)
If San Antonio decides to select another wing in the first round, they must target the frontcourt in the second. There could be several good frontcourt options early in the second round. One option is Filip Petrusev out of Serbia. He is capable of playing power forward or center standing at 6-foot-11. Petrusev actually attended Gonzaga for two seasons, but then decided to leave for pro basketball in Serbia. In his past season in Serbia, Petrusev averaged over 23 points while winning MVP of his league.
For his size, Petrusev has impressive perimeter shooting. He shot 18% from three in his last season at Gonzaga. In Serbia Petrusev shot an impressive 42% from three. Petrusev would bring frontcourt versatility and stretch potential to San Antonio. He has struggled on the defensive perimeter at times, and is not a great shot blocker. Petrusev could be fine when it comes to shot blocking if he plays at power forward alongside Poeltl. Regardless, Petrusev will need to improve his perimeter defense. Currently, Petrusev could be selected anywhere from late first round to early second round. He will need to slide a few picks for San Antonio. If available, Petrusev at 41 would be a good value that addresses some of the Spurs’ needs.
All stats courtesy of Basketball-Reference and ESPN.