The NBA Draft is upon us. There's already been a lot of rumors about trades, pick promises, etc. The San Antonio Spurs have been linked to one prospect, Erick Green, and a top five pick from last year, Thomas Robinson. Since it's the Spurs, you'll hear them linked to a fraction of players and trades as other teams. The Cleveland Cavaliers have been linked to half the league since Monday. It's important not to get too worked up over any of these rumors (I'm telling myself this as much as I'm telling you this).
The Spurs have excelled at finding rotation guys at the end of the first round and even in the second round. Aside from the Kawhi Leonard trade, the Spurs have also shown they're averse to the risk that trading up in the draft brings. You're giving up an asset to get an unknown. However, the George Hill-Kawhi Leonard trade showed that the Spurs aren't completely opposed to that risk. While this draft doesn't have an obvious superstar it has plenty of depth and has me wondering whether the Spurs are primed to move up to the middle of the first round again.
If the Spurs are going to move up it's going to take more than 28th pick in the draft. That could mean the rights to Davis Bertans or Adam Hanga, or it could mean Nando De Colo or Matt Bonner's partially guaranteed contract. But if we're talking about moving in to the teens, we're probably talking about Danny Green. Green's stock probably won't get much higher than it is now. He shot the ball at an insane rate for most of the NBA Finals and has two years left on a very good contract. He is the definition of an attractive trade piece. How attractive is a good question, though it should garner a pick in the late lottery or just outside it. The Jazz at 14, Bucks at 15 and Hawks at 17 and 18 feel like pretty good partners.
The difference between this year and 2011 is the Spurs don't have a glaring immediate need. R.C. Buford described the Spurs' immediate needs as "subtle" though in true Spurs fashion didn't specify those needs. In 2011, it was obvious the Spurs needed another small forward. I'd say another scorer, back up small forward and some athleticism up front are probably the biggest needs. The bigs and the scoring can be found in the middle of the draft, the back up swingmen are literally all over the place. Three names I very much like are Shabazz Muhammad from UCLA, San Diego State's Jamaal Franklin (a former teammate of Leonard) and Gorgui Dieng from Louisville.
The other difference between 2011 and now is George Hill was coming up on a contract extension and Danny Green is not. Again, that also is what makes Green such an attractive piece. It also makes him hard to give up. And the Spurs might be able to move up without giving up Green, so let's not make this about to trade Danny Green or not to trade Danny Green. It's about retooling around the edges. Helping reload for next year while building for the future at the same time. That's what Kawhi Leonard represents. There's no perfect prospect this season and even if there was he'd be out of the Spurs reach. But the franchise, or program as they call it, has proven time and again they're really good at developing guys who have a willingness to learn and some natural ability.
The 2013 NBA Draft could be a really quiet night for the Spurs or it could provide some fireworks. We won't know what's happening until it happens (or until Adrian Wojnarowski tweets what's going to happen 30 seconds before it does). Just remember the guys making the decisions are way better at this than we are, so everything will be OK.
I said this last year after loss to OKC than we were ok and a couple games away from finals, I say it again we are a free throw or a defensive rebound away from NBA championship, I am not worried. Kwahi will be a star, Danny Green has proved to be more than just a role player and we have tons of cap space this summer, getting a guy like Josh smith would be ideal but other than that, we'll be fine!
If anything I think we should try to move out of the first round, address our needs in Free Agency and try to move up next year in a draft filled with better quality bigs
Because this draft is so unsettled, and some significant trades are likely to shake things up, I'd rather sit still at 28 and see who is available. Maybe Shabazz, although I think he is a one-trick-pony that can only go left. Maybe the Greek kid. Maybe Tony Snell. I think the only thing between Mike Muscala and being a star is about 30 lbs of muscle. Can he put on that amount of muscle? Maybe. There will be some decent picks left around at 58 too ...
I think Shabazz Muhammed would be a perfect fit. The Spurs need a second ball handler that can get to the rim, and he can get to the rim as well as anyone in this draft. Coupled with his size, and defensive ability, this guy would be a steal in the middle of the 1st round. He has the size and athleticism to be the 1st pick in the draft. Shabazz and Kawhi at the wings would be a very formidable defensive wing duo.