Hill returns home - Leonard now calls San Antonio home
RC Buford started the press conference after the draft with the following quote:
You know, I think I'd first like to say that tonight might have been one of the more difficult nights in Spurs history since we've been here. To move a player like George Hill whose meant so much to our team, to our culture, to our locker room, was one of the most difficult decisions we've made.
The Spurs have traded Gregg Popovich's once referred as his favorite player, in George Hill. The Spurs drafted Hill with the 26th pick in the 1st round of the 2008 NBA Draft from the now infamous IUPUI. At IUPUI, Hill averaged 17ppg, 5rpg, and shot 40% from 3PT. When drafted, the general consensus of Spurs fans and media were, "WHO?!"
During the NBA Summer League in 2008, Hill shot 2-25 (8%) from the field and 1-6 (16.7%) from 3PT. This had Spurs fans worldwide in a panic. The front office retained confidence in Hill as he held draft pick O.J. Mayo to 5-17 shooting in one game. Had the Spurs made a terrible mistake? Did the Spurs finally get one wrong?
Per usual, the Spurs front office got it right. Hill went on to average 9.9ppg, 2.4rpg, 2.2apg in his 3 year stint with the team. He was known more for his defense and spot up shooting when Tony Parker wasn't on the floor.
But what the Spurs have gained is something Spurs fans should be excited about. "He plays hard, he defends, he's a multi-skill player that has good size and length and good strength," Buford stated about Kawhi Leonard, the player the Spurs acquired with the #15 pick from the Indiana Pacers in exchange for Hill. Leonard, a 6'7" 225-lbs SF from San Diego State ranks #1 of all prospective 2011 wing players according to DraftExpress (source), better than Klay Thompson (ranked #4) who was picked at #11 by the Golden State Warriors.
In his two years at San Diego state, Leonard averaged 14.7 ppg, 10.3 rpg, 2.2 apg. Leonard is known more for his physique and defensive abilities. Getting more defensive minded is exactly what Pop mentioned earlier in the summer.
With the trade to Indiana, the Spurs also obtained the rights to Erazem Lorbek, a 6'11" 242-lbs PF/C from Slovenia. "He's a very, very effective player and one that we have hope for getting him to San Antonio in the future," Buford states.
The Spurs selected Cory Joseph with the #29 pick, a 6'3" 185-lbs guard from Texas, originally from Toronto, Canada. In his single year at Texas, Joseph averaged 10.4 ppg, 3 apg, and 41.3% from 3PT. The Canadian Joesph is known primarily for attacking the basket and sharing the ball with teammates. He'll likely be George Hill's replacement in the future. Buford commented that the staff knew they were selecting Joseph with the #29 pick, regardless.
The Pacers #42 pick in the draft also went to the Spurs in Davis Bertans, 6'10" 210-lbs lights out SF from Latvia. According to an article by Celtics radio network WEEI (source) "Nike International director Rich Shoebrooks called Bertans the best shooter to play on Hoop Summit International squad since Dirk Nowitzki." He'll likely stay overseas for a few years to develop, as he's currently under contract. Good thing is? He's 18 years old!
With the #59 pick in the draft, the Spurs selected Adam Hanga, 6'7" 200-lbs combo SG/SF from Hungary. Hanga presents himself to be a versatile forward with solid defense. The Spurs plan on keeping Hanga overseas to develop more.
Could the Spurs be done with trades this off season? Or could the Spurs be looking to move Richard Jefferson before next Thursday?
All of this, after I incorrectly assumed the Spurs would do nothing tonight. Instead, we lost our beloved George Hill. Yet we must also keep in mind that the Spurs front office has not steered us wrong many times before. We trusted in them when we doubted Hill.