One of the knocks on the San Antonio Spurs has been, aside from the old thing, is that they lack athletes. While you could go back and forth on the age thing, the lack of athletes is nearly indisputable. The athletes they had, namely someone like Ian Mahimni, couldn't get off the bench for one reason or another. Last season they didn't have one player who would be described as athletic.
That could be changing. Thursday, news came out that the Spurs were inviting Summer League Spur Tyler Wilkerson and are working out former Charlotte Bobcat Derrick Brown. Two undersized power forwards who are definitely athletes. Both are what many Spurs fans hoped DeJuan Blair would turn in to. Both guys, while undersized, posses some shooting skill and use their quickness to beat their opponents of the dribble. Scott Schroeder had this to say about Wikerson a few years back during the Las Vegas Summer League.
"Wilkerson showed to be an interesting NBA prospect in Vegas as he showed a strong motor in attacking the offensive glass as well as being a decent spot up shooter for his size. He doesn't seem to be able to do much with his back to the basket, but the Spurs have shown a knack for being okay with face-up forwards - especially if they're able to contribute on the glass as Wilkerson did in Vegas."
Wilkerson was able to score 20 points and nine rebounds against the Lakers Summer League squad, though that Lakers Summer League squad was really bad. But it's encouraging that Wilkerson showed both a willingness and an ability to put the ball in the basket.
Brown has also shown some offensive versatility and has a couple of skills that would fit well in the Spurs system. According to NBA Advanced Stats, Brown shot 66 percent in the restricted area, which is incredibly good when you consider Brown's size. He also shot 40 percent from mid-range which is good for the floor spacing. Another interesting note: Brown shot 30 percent from the corner three (granted he only took 20 attempts). If you can shoot 30 percent from the corner in the Bobcats' screwy system, you can shoot at least 35 percent in the Spurs' floor spacing system, right?
The larger point here is that the Spurs may have found something in last June's loss to the Thunder. They may not have had the ideal personnel for it, but going small ball with only one big on the court may be the best way to combat the size of the Oklahoma City Thunder and Los Angeles Lakers is to spread the floor and outrun them. Sounds a little 2004-2009 Phoenix Suns-ish, but in the short term it may be the best solution. Brown and Wilkerson are both are young, can play multiple positions and their athleticism would bring some to a team that sorely needs it.
And by athleticism, I mean hops like this from Wilkerson who decided to humiliate Hasheem Thabeet at the 2010 Summer League.
Derrick Brown is a small foward, OK? His playing style is much similar to poorman's version of Gerald Wallace.
Trevor, you're WAY off on saying the Spurs didn't have ONE player who can be described as "athletic" since every basketball analyst acknowledges that Kawhi Leonard has some legitimate athleticism.
@jwalk415 Some yes, but it can actually be said KL lacks it too. He had nearly the worst vert #s in draft combine, and jumping is generally the primary consideration when speaking of athleticism.
@jwalk415 Btw I was surprised too when I found that out..you look at KL and you would think he is very athletic
I totally agree that the Spurs need a big who will rebound, add defensive pressure and will contribute in points...but here is some statistical perspective.
I checked all the current rosters (from nba.com team rosters) and looked at how many bigs (players over 6'10") and here are the basic numbers:
Average number of bigs per team = 4.6
Highest number of bigs on team = four teams with 7 (Golden State, Philly, Milwaukee, Toronto)
Lowest number of bigs on a team = 1 Brooklyn
Spurs = 3 (5 other teams have same number)
So judging by those numbers the Spurs are in need of one to two more bigs in order to match up against other teams in the league, even those that play small.
And while the Spurs are looking at all these other players, they might be looking ahead a couple of seasons to the post Duncan/Manu era. That is also a time when there will be more cap room to sign a good big. Players like Bogut will be free agents in the next couple of years, so they may look to try and sign someone like that to replace Duncan. jackson will probably be gone by then, and Bonner will be a freeagent and more than likely won't be re-signed. So looking forward to possible free agent pick-ups is just good team management in my view.
Its a surprise to me that the Spurs can invite a 6'8" player but blind to guys like Andray Blatche who stands at 6'11". Can't they take a risk sometimes?
@rtesoro440 do you know how the spurs offense works? or how perimeter oriented the 4 position is becoming in the nba? if blatche picks up lateral quickness then ok but if he cant hes no more than a back up 5 or a 4 in only certain situations
i think wilkersons the better choice here. yeah browns quicker and has better offense but wilkerson has the strength to take post ups from other bigs while still being slightly quicker on the offensive end. brown has a better offensive advantage but might get pounded inside a little more easily.
@aespurs How about Butch and Carter vs TW?
@Spursfan66 i havent really watched any of either one of them but from how theyre described carter sounds better just because hes a forward and butch is a center. unless the spurs commit to slowing down the game like the old days, they need to stick to versatile 4s. what i do like to hear is that where carter excels is defense because versatile 4s who also play D are very hard to find
@aespurs Ya, not a lot of video on both of them either. Butch looks like Bonner in shooting range (but seemingly better midrange and better post)
My worry with Carter is his lack of strength at PF at 220. Hard choice for me given limited info re: Carter vs TW.