For a lot of teams drafting at the end of the first round year after year, the NBA Draft is nothing more than a trade chip (See: Lakers, Los Angeles), or a way to stock pile talent overseas (See: 2003-2007 Spurs), but since drafting George Hill in the first round of the 2008 NBA Draft, the Spurs have tried to find players to contribute within the first year or two years. That has worked in varying levels between now and then between George Hill (borderline starter), Cory Joseph (borderline rotation end of rotation player) and James Anderson (showed promise before injury and Danny Green pushed him out of the rotation). I'm not counting Kawhi Leonard in this equation because he was a top five lottery talent who dropped in to the mid first round.
With as many as seven restricted or unrestricted free agents next summer, I think the Spurs are likely to follow this route with this summer's NBA Draft. Last month we took a look at some guys, all forwards, who will likely be available in that 25-35 range. As conference play starts for most of the country, here's an update on some of those players and a new addition.
-Gorgui Dieng, C, Louisville: The junior center missed the last month with a wrist injury, but returned against rival Kentucky last weekend and played well. Dieng played 20 minutes, scoring seven points, pulling down seven rebounds and adding two blocks against a front line that includes potential number one pick Nerlens Noel and likely top ten pick Alex Poythress. Dieng is ranked number 34 in Chad Ford's top 100 prospect list and 27th in Jonathan Givony's list. A strong Big East conference run could shoot him up in the top 20, but right now it looks like he'll be available somewhere near the Spurs' pick.
-Andre Roberson, F, Colorado: The San Antonio native is having a better year than last, but not by much. Somehow, that's translated in to him not being the first round lock he was in October before the season started. The Wagner High School graduate is averaging 12.1 points, 12.1 rebounds and 1.4 blocks a game. He's shooting 52 percent from the field and has gotten his three point percentage above 41 percent (though he's only taken 17 threes so far). At 6'7" Roberson is a possibly the best rebounder and one of the most versatile defenders in the country. He's not great at creating his own shot, but his jumper has improved and in the Spurs system he could become a very consistent outside shooter playing either forward position. Basically it'd be like having two Kawhi Leonard type players, and what team wouldn't want that? He had a big test against Arizona's deep frontline Thursday night, scoring nine points (2-3 from three) and pulling down 11 rebounds which playing in foul trouble for much of the game.
-Jamaal Franklin, G/F, San Diego St.: Speaking of a Kawhi, former teammate Jamaal Franklin is another player who is lower on both Ford (20th) and Givony's (25th) drafts boards then you might expect. The 6'5" guard is averaging 17.1 points and 9.8 rebounds a game. He can get to the rim and the free throw line, averaging nearly eight attempts per game. The knock on him is he lacks range on his jump shot (he's shooting 24 percent from the 3 and shooting four attempts per game), but again, the inconsistent shooters have a tendency to become more consistent once they're in the Spurs' system. I'd be stunned if Franklin is around when the Spurs pick, but if he is he'd be tough to pass despite the fact that it'd be adding another shooting guard.
-Patric Young, C, Florida: The Gators junior hasn't developed offensively like everyone was hoping he would, but he's turned himself in to one of the best defensive big men in the country. He's up to two blocks per game and one steal while his foul rate has dipped. His shooting percentage is still up around 60 percent, so it's not as if he lacks any offensive skill. He'll never be a franchise changing big man, but he'll be someone's third or fourth big for several years.
I'll be back next month with an update on these players and likely a few additions as conference play continues. Until then, let me hear who you'd like the Spurs to go after this June. A center, an athletic forward, another guard?
Photo: Daily Emerald
I'd like for the Spurs to look for a Center as well as a Small Forward. I like Kawhi Leonard and I like Stephen Jackson, but I think the Spurs could use another good-sized Small Forward that's athletic and pretty good defensively, in case of injury and little to no production on the court. I do believe the Spurs need a Center, but not just any Center, a legitimate big-man that can rebound and block shots. These are the two positions I would like to see looked at before and coming June.
@TrueSpursFan Yeah, as big of a fan as I am of Roberson, if they could get Dieng at the end of the first round or early in the second, it'd be a steal for what they need.
I wouldn't mind the spurs taking Dieng. He plays like Serge Ibaka. About 6'10 around 245, good size. I saw an interview and he was asked whether he would rather win a game by dunking, or block a shot that would win his team the game. Without blinking he said he would rather block a shot that would win the game. That just goes to show he prefers defense over everything else. He is a good kid too, very respectful and is always described as extremely team oriented. He seems like a spurs type of player, and he is projected to be late first round. Why not?? Also Jeff Withey of Kansas is projected to be late first round too. He is also a good defensive big man and is one of the best shot blockers in college right now. So that's two defensive big men projected in the late first round where we have a chance to take them. If we choose an undersized guard or a small forward in the first round, I will blow up my dog!
Still talking about guards? The Spurs have 8, this is not enough? Is this writer out of touch? Just last night the Knicks massacred/demolished them. Do you still have lingering doubts on the unbalanced lineup of the Spurs? The Knicks field 3 big men at a time and the Spurs can only respond with TD (6'11" and 4 midsized and undersized players! The Knicks have Camby, Chandler, Stoudemire, Thomas, Copeland and Anthony and the Spurs respond with TD and either Splitter, Jackson, Diaw, Bonner and Leonard. Look at the height disparity here. And you say the Spurs have a deep bench? Are you kidding me? The Spurs add Parker, Green, Neal, deColo and Mills and the Knicks add JR Smith, Kidd, Novak, Brewer and it ends in NO CONTEST! Are you blind? How can coach POP, GM Buford and Mr. Holt shallow this? Don't they have pride at all? Almost everybody sees where the weakness of the Spurs lie except you and the Mgnt. But they definitely are better than the Bobcats, Wizards, Suns,and some other lightweights but NO MATCH to the likes of the Heat, Clippers, Thunder and Knicks. And they and you dream of the Spurs reaching the wcf? Pipe dream! If this writer has contact with the Spurs, PLEASE tell them enough is enouhg. The present lineup can't do it, thery need a chance. Rid of Jackson, Bonner, Blair and at least 2 or 3 of the guards. Tell them to retire Manu. He is doing more harm than good. His days are over. He MUST retire. P L E A S E!
Spurs have 7 guards, not 8. Lingering doubts? No, That was one game. Knicks were the more rested team and put a beating on a tired Spurs team playing a back-to-back game. Knicks knew that coming into the game and made the Spurs run, which worked in their favor. If the Spurs hadn't struggled in the second-half against the Bucks and were able to rest their starters longer, last night's game against the Knicks may have gone differently. I'll admit the Knicks are a team to watch out for. They have a deep roster and can do some major damage in this league. It's funny seeing you talk so highly about the Knicks when they live and die by the 3 point line. You'd rather talk down on the Spurs, "The so called team you say you support", because they shoot a lot of 3's, but not the other teams with Superstars, interesting. The Spurs do need a Center, I'll admit that, have been for years. At the same time, I do feel the Spurs have a deep team even without that "legitimate" Center piece. 2 straight regular season years with the number 1 record in the Western Conference, went to the Western Conference last year after being knocked out the year before in the first round, they must doing something right. They are currently sitting 3rd in the Western Conference and 1st in their Division. I could understand you being frustrated with the Spurs if they weren't doing anything, but the fact that they are is what I don't understand with you. Joe Dumars is that you? Ask Detroit Pistons fans if they miss their old team? I'll wait..............................................................................................................................
Want to shake things up a bit, huh? Trade Stephen Jackson why? He's gives the Spurs an "Edge" ask Coach Pop, Trade Bonner for what reason? I don't see a lot teams with Big Dudes like Bonner who can shoot 3's, especially with his 3 point shooting percentage. Trade Blair and get whom? "No Knees" we trade you. I'd like to trade you, my "No Knees" guy for your guy who has some, sounds like a joke right? 2 or 3 guards? which ones? and for what in return? The present line can't do it, yep sounds like "Dumars" to me. Retire Manu? His Days are over? Doing more harm than good? What? Seriously? And you are a Spurs fan? I'm finding it hard to believe you "rtesoro440". Spurs can't compete with Miami? The same Miami team that lost to the Wizards without John Wall? The same team that almost lost to the Spurs bench (NO Parker, NO Duncan, NO Manu, NO Green) What? Stop it. The Clippers? Didn't we sweep them last year? I understand it's a new year, but didn't we sweep them last year? the Golden State Warriors have beaten both Miami and the Clippers this season, Clippers twice, so I guess you're saying we can't compete with Golden State either? Thunder? Series is tied right now, no James Harden this year, hmm? Knicks? I'll give them credit, they swept the Spurs in this year's regular season series, but game 1 both teams came in off of 1 day's rest, no back-to-backs, Spurs lost by 4 in that game. Spurs Won't see the Knicks again this season, unless it's in the Finals. I believe the Spurs can compete with all these teams. Spurs are not far at all in my opinion from getting over that hump. "A couple tweaks can do the trick, but a couple dumb moves can place you were you don't want to be."Your strategy sounds like a dumb move. "TRUESPURSFAN" said it.
@TrueSpursFan I'm pretty sure hes a lakers or okc fan and has nothing better to do than scour blogs of teams he doesn't cheer for. Possibly a mavs or rockets fan with some serious jealousy issues. He literally disagrees with everything the FO/team does, never praises, and always hates. There is just no way hes a Spurs fan.