The NBA Draft is weeks away, which means NBA Draftmas is back. Each day, The Game Haus will review a team’s past season, their team needs and targets. We will continue today with the San Antonio Spurs 2018 NBA Draft profile.
2018 was not a very kind year to The San Antonio Spurs. Before the 2017-2018 outing, San Antonio completed 20 straight regular season with 50 wins or more. That streak would end as the Spurs finished this past regular season 47-35.
In addition, their All-Star small forward, Kawhi Leonard, only played nine games the entire season due to nagging injuries. To make matters even worse, Erin Popovich, the wife of Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich, passed away on April 18. Assistant head coach, Ettore Messina, manned the helm in Pop’s place for the remainder of the season.
The Spurs clinched the seventh seed in the Western Conference, along with making their 21st straight playoff appearance. The first round was where their season ended as the second-seeded Golden State Warriors eliminated them in five games.
The Spurs’ defense was superb this season. Along with only the Utah Jazz, San Antonio allowed under 100 points per game, sharing a tie for the least amount in the NBA with them. In addition, San Antonio finished second in the NBA for best free-throw percentage as a team, behind only the Washington Wizards.
For the upcoming draft, the offense will need the most attention. The Spurs finished 27th out of 30 teams in points per game, in addition to ranking 15th in assists per game.
Picks and Needs
The Spurs have two picks in this year’s draft to work with.
First round: No. 18
Second round: No. 49
Like drafts in the past, general manager R.C. Buford will need to make the most out of having later draft picks. Adding youth to the roster will be necessary to keep the Spurs’ winning ways going. Household names like Tony Parker (36 years old) and Manu Ginobili (40 years old) are getting older. Not to mention center Pau Gasol is now 37 years old, and power forward LaMarcus Aldridge is 32 years old.
Targets and Thoughts
Pick No. 18: Gary Trent Jr., SG, Duke
Many will argue that a freshman declaring for the draft would be a bad idea. Those who say this would argue that not only does the freshman deny the chance for his own skill set to fully mature, but it could also hinder the prospect’s ability to make an impact at the next level.
However, the season that Gary Trent Jr. had last season is not to be overlooked. Trent averaged 14.5 points, 4.2 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game. He also finished his lone year at Duke with an 87.6 free-throw percentage.
His 6-foot-6, 209-pound frame comes in strongly for the two-guard position, especially for the ones who play more physically, like Trent. He has also showcased consistency and great range from jumps shots. His great free-throw shooting and stealing instincts can help the Spurs get out of a bind quickly.
But some experts do not deem him as a very explosive player with the ball. He also tends to shoot a lot on offense and does not pass much. Many have called his defensive prowess in need of more improvement as well.
However, under Gregg Popovich’s coaching, Gary Trent. Jr. can address these issues and make an impact at both ends of the floor.
Pick No. 49: Keenan Evans, PG, Texas Tech
Texas Tech senior Keenan Evans can be an effective asset to ramping up San Antonio’s offense. As a Red Raider, he has grown and matured significantly.
In his final two years of college ball, Evans averaged at least 15 points per game and shot over 45 percent from the field. He also averaged at least one steal per game and boasts a free-throw percentage over 80.
His 6-foot-3, 190-pound frame is usually considered an ideal frame for the point guard position. Some scouts, however, see Evans as a score-first guard. He will need to keep the ball moving around, which the Spurs have been known to do. Though his teammate from Texas Tech, Zhaire Smith, seemingly overshadows him in the draft, Keenan Evans can turn into an impact player for Popovich and company.
The San Antonio Spurs will need young recruits to fill in the shoes of the aging veterans, including those from this coming draft. They will also need to tend to their offense to take pressure off of the defensive front. If they play their cards right, the Spurs’ draft can create waves around the league immediately. Plus, in time, San Antonio can take over the Western Conference once again within a few short years.
Be sure to check back tomorrow as we bring you the Minnesota Timberwolves 2018 NBA Draft profile!
Featured image from TeamWork Online
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