The NBA draft is here, guys. That means guys like me get to pretend to be experts on the subject. Since the Spurs just played the NBA finals and have the 28th pick, there is less excitement than usual, but let me remind you that the last time the Spurs actually had a first rounder, they drafted Kawhi Leonard and Cory Joseph, the latter with the 29th pick.
We will know in a matter of hours what the Spurs ultimately do, but now is the time for speculation and isn't that the fun part?
Draft Express has the Spurs picking Jeff Withey, the center out of Kansas. The guy seems NBA-ready and his defense is certainly intriguing. At 23, his potential is probably limited but the Spurs could use another mobile center (Tiago Splitter-lite, if you will) off the bench or developing in Austin. Withey might not be a sexy pick, but he makes a lot of sense for a Spurs team that, provided Blair leaves, won't have any bigs under 25 under contract.
Chad Ford has the Spurs taking French giant Rudy Gobert. At 7-2, Gobert definitely has size, but he might be too slow to be a difference maker in today's pick and roll heavy league and his offensive game needs development. Still, as the cliché goes, you can't teach size and the Spurs could keep Gobert in Europe if they feel he is too raw. Also, Tim Duncan was a fantastic defensive presence for the Spurs this season by sagging back on P&Rs and Splitter got most of his points by catching and finishing near the rim, so even if Gobert joins the team immediately, there is a precedent for success using he tools he has now.
"He'll likely need to be matched up with opposing point guards to be most effective in the NBA, but may be more comfortable with an additional ball-handler alongside of him offensively, at least early on in his career."
Erick, meet Manu Ginobili, your additional ball handler. Green is also a good spot up shooter, which means he could ideally play off the ball some. I don't dislike the pick, but I would love it more if the Spurs didn't have three other reserve point/combo guards under contract, not counting Manu. I'm still willing to trust he can be the new offensively-inclined George Hill.
Similarly, Hoopshype has the Spurs taking another lead guard in Nate Wolters. Wolters seems to combine De Colo's creativity, Mills shooting and Joseph's ability to be a floor general, but you have to wonder just exactly how high his potential is in today's league where even back up PGs are athletic freaks. Wolter's 6-3 wingspan doesn't help make up for his lack of quickness on defense, but offensively he could be an intriguing prospect for Gregg Popovich. He could be the new Beno Udrih, and I mean that as a compliment.
CBS Sports' Matt Moore's has the Spurs taking Glen Rice Jr., which makes sense. Rice played in the NBA D-League last season, so he has experience playing against older players and his shooting and length could make him a good back up SF right off the bat. Then again, he might not be good enough at any one thing and have too many off court issues to stay in the league long. Meanwhile, Gary Parrish has them taking Jamaal Franklin, from Kawhi's old school, San Diego State. At 6-5 and with a very solid 6-9 wingspan, Franklin has great size and could provide energy off the bench for the Spurs. Considering the success the Spurs have had developing former Aztecs' outside shooting and Franklin's motor, this wouldn't be a bad pick.
Finally, SBNation's own Jonathan Tjarks (who knows ten times as much about this stuff than I do and you should consider reading his work) has Allen Crabbe as the Spurs' pick. The shooting guard out of the University of California sounds like the perfect fit for the Spurs: good size for a shooting guard at 6-6, great catch-and-shoot guy, fine defensive tools. But the Spurs already have Danny Green, who is essentially the player Crabbe projects to be. Still, can you ever have too many Danny Greens? I don't think so. After all, you can win games with Danny Green.
Ok, now that you know what the experts said, I'll make my prediction. With the 28th pick of the draft the Spurs select...Alex Abrines out of Spain. I had no idea who Abrines was until I started researching prospects, but he is a 6-5, 19 year old shooting guard that will stay in Spain developing for the near future and seems to have great offensive potential.
The Spurs have Ryan Richards (who may join the Spurs' Summer League team), Adam Hanga and Davis Bertans already oi the pipeline, and Hanga in particular seems to make Abrines redundant. But Hanga is soon to be 25 and is close to a four-year deal with Baskonia, Tiago's old club. With Manu likely returning for next season, but not more than a couple of years left, drafting a young SG with potential makes sense.
Remember, I have no information on who the Spurs might sign. This is only gut feeling, and if I'm wrong I will play it off as a joke. But if I'm right you will have to hear about it for a long time.
Alright, now it's your turn. Who do you think the Spurs will sign? Or better yet, who do you want the Spurs to sign of the players that might realistically be there? Bragging rights are at stake, people. So think things over.