Basic Per Game Statistics
I first became intrigued by Jamaal Franklin, the 6'5 guard out of San Diego State after Game One of the NBA Finals. I don't watch college basketball; I don't like it. I'd rather stare at a wall or set myself on fire than watch a game with 20 minute halves, half-court offenses and final scores of 52-49. So, I had no idea who Jamaal Franklin was until Kawhi Leonard was asked about his former teammate after the game. This was the first time I had ever heard Leonard's voice by the way. I was impressed by this reporter's boldness to ask the recluse Leonard about something completely irrelevant to the Finals. But, it worked and Leonard's response stuck with me. He said that you just have to be "put in the right situation".
I was reminded of another San Diego State wing who fell into the right situation. Yep, ding ding, Kawhi Leonard! I truly believe he would've ended up being a raw talent with freak athleticism, more of a Tyrus Thomas type than a possible Scottie Pippen if any other team had drafted him (Yeah, I compared Leonard to Pippen). So in my boredom I began to research Jamaal Franklin, and here's what jumped out at me.
1) I have never respected anyone in college basketball who wore t-shirts. I hated Corey Brewer and Roy Hibbert. But, Franklin pulls it off. Not to mention, he wears a baggy long sleeve in case it starts snowing or he busts out in a 90's rap song mid game.
2) He throws fast-break off the backboard alley-oops to himself!
3) His jump shot is horrendously ugly. It doesn't even look like his arms are what's making the ball go towards the rim, but I seem to remember the Spurs fixing both his college teammate's and Tony Parker's jumpers. Chip Engelland could be the perfect coach for this guy.
4) Franklin was the only player in the country to lead his team in points, rebounds, assists and steals. That sounds like a Spur to me. He shot a low percentage this year, only 40.7% and 27% from downtown, but he is supposed to be great when he only has to catch and shoot. The Spurs system would be perfect for him to shoot corner threes, which after time with Engelland, he should be able to knock down consistently. Franklin also offers more creativity and off the dribble potential than Danny Green does. He's not a great dribbler, but he also doesn't get lost when he puts the ball on the floor like Green seems to do. He could do everything Danny Green can do and more. I don't think Green is necessarily a great shooter, I think the Spurs' offense and coaching staff allows him to get great shots.
Picking Franklin would also give Leonard a chance to develop somewhat of a leadership role on the team, which he's going to have to do someday. Franklin has a 6'11 wingspan (is he Leonard's evil twin?) and could come off the bench for Green or Leonard. He could devastate backcourts along with Kawhi or he could come in for him and receive dividends from Manu's creativity. Drafting Franklin would allow Manu to play less minutes next year and save the front office cap space from going after an expensive piece like Andre Iguodala. If Franklin develops, he's a valuable asset because he can be the Spurs' future starting SG and gives them the ability to shop Danny Green in 2014-2015 when his contract will be expiring. I don't want to lose Danny Green, but Franklin gives you options. I also think Franklin gives the Spurs more scoring options, because he attacks the rim aggressively when the threes aren't falling. As Leonard starts to get more plays called for him in Pop's offense, Franklin could operate in the same way Kawhi did the past two seasons, serving as the beneficiary of the defensive attention towards Tim, Manu, Tony and now Leonard. This article from the San Diego paper compares him to Leonard, but says insider information reveals Franklin not falling past the Clip's pick at 25. The Spurs might have to try to move up a few spots for Franklin, possibly trading Bonner, a future first rounder and Joseph/De Colo. I think it's worth it because the Spurs need to be in a win now mentality with Timmy and Manu on their way out. Now is not the time for foreigners that aren't going to wear a Spurs uniform until 2018.
Why I think the Spurs should take Franklin over a backup point guard or a big man:
1) The Spurs are overloaded at backup point guard with De Colo and Joseph and then Neal and Mills sort of being point guards. I know none of them are great ball handlers, but I cannot see a point guard picked at 28 overall providing the Spurs with the talent they need either. I think the Spurs need to find a backup point guard of the Speedy Claxton or Jacque Vaughn variety to play behind Parker, rather than an inexperienced 21 year old. The Spurs don't need Erick Green right now or the point guard of the future, they need someone to come in and manage the offense smartly.
2) I think a big man is pointless here too because a center drafted at 28 will be extremely raw and not able to contend with the likes of Memphis or wherever D12 ends up. If the Spurs are going to let Tiago walk on free agency, I think they need to sign a veteran center to pair with Tim. They have good foreigners waiting to be brought over like Erazem Lorbek or David Bertans, so a Jeff Withey does nothing here. I'd be afraid that a young rookie big man would fall out of the rotation and leave the Spurs with a starting center like Bonner or Diaw when the playoffs role around.
In conclusion, wear the long sleeves Spurs. Draft Jamaal Franklin, give yourself a piece that will help now, relieve Manu and build for the future.