The draft is only two days away. The Spurs own the 30th, the 58th and 60th pick. Let's take a look at their options.
Should the Spurs trade up?
The last time the Spurs traded into the middle of the draft, they landed Kawhi Leonard. So of course every fan wants the front office to catch lightning in a bottle again. And despite this draft class allegedly being one of the best in years, a bunch of teams outside of the top five seem to be amenable to trading the pick for some instant help.
Getting into the lottery would require the type of drastic move a defending champion would seldom make. But there are some intriguing options in the second half of the draft that could be worth exploring. The Celtics, Bulls and Suns, for example, have multiple picks and seem interested in trading one if they can't swing a trade for Kevin Love.
Unfortunately, they are looking for an impact player or to reduce their salary obligations in trades. The draft takes place before players officially become free agents, so the Spurs won't be able to absorb much salary. And I'm assuming the top six in the rotation (the starters + Manu) are untouchable. That would leave Belinelli, Joseph, their stashed players, future picks and $3 million dollars (the max amount of cash that can be included), as the best assets to trade.
There is a chance that a combination of those pieces gets the Spurs a higher pick but only if they don't have to compete with offers from any other teams. It's been reported that the Bulls are targeting Arron Afflalo in a deal that would surely include one of their picks. They have bigger fish to fry. The Suns won't be adding three rookies to their team. But they also don't have any bad contracts they want someone to take off their hands. If they can't get an impact player, they can simply stash a couple of high upside international prospects or trade for an enticing future pick. And the Spurs won't likely trade their 2016 first rounder because if might actually be valuable.
That leaves Boston. No one is taking Gerald Wallace off their hands for the 17th pick. But Joel Anthony doesn't fit with their team and will be making almost $4 million to sit on their bench. The 30th pick, Joseph and Belinelli for Anthony and the 17th might be in play. The Cs retain flexibility and improve their roster in the process. There is a very real possibility that they don't think it's enough or other team outbids the Spurs. But it's probably San Antonio's best chance of moving up without giving up a core player.
As for the Spurs, the idea of adding a young, cheap scoring wing like T.J. Warren or James Young or even get a chance at Rodney Hood or Doug McDermott if they slip past the lottery seems tempting. But Belinelli was second in the Spurs in total minutes last regular season and with Manu playing in the summer, he could continue to receive a lot of playing time. Would someone the Spurs draft be able to provide minutes right off the bat? And if the Spurs include Joseph in a package and Mills leaves, who plays back up PG?
There are simply too many questions about how valuable the Spurs' assets really are and how inclined they might be to trade a rotation player right after winning a championship for moving up to be considered likely.
Should the Spurs trade down?
We've covered this before and SfS will have more on it this evening, but since getting a future first rounder for this year's pick doesn't seem all that likely, the best option might be to trade down. If the Spurs bring back Mills and Diaw or even if they use cap space/the MLE to replace them, the rotation will be pretty much set. The 30th pick is not likely to get many minutes.
So a good option might be to trade down to the first half of the second round, where there's talent but the contracts are not guaranteed, and to select players that might be amenable to spend a year in Europe.
The Sixers option has already been covered. But trading the 30th and 58th pick for the 36th and the 48th could be beneficial for both San Antonio and Milwaukee. The Bucks would end up with the 2nd, 30th ,31st and 58th pick and the ability to have their pick of the fringe first round prospects. And the Spurs would get three second rounders to either audition college players on training camp with no strings attached or simply stash three more prospects.
If the Spurs keep the pick, who should they select?
I have a really, really hard time imagining the Spurs keeping the pick and selecting an American player that wants to play in the NBA right away. But there's always the possibility that they fall in love with a prospect the way they did with Cory Joseph and are willing to wait for him to develop on their own dime with the Toros.
That could be an ideal situation for certain players, like Spencer Dinwiddie, who lost most of the past season due to injury but has the talent of a potential lottery pick and could, with time, take on the role of Manu Ginobili as a scorer/creator. Even someone like Giannis' brother Thanasis Antetokounmpo could be a good choice, since he spent last year playing in the D-League and would probably have no problem spending a year or more in Austin. The salary for a 30th pick is low enough that the Spurs can take chances. And as long as their selection is not averse to playing in the D-League, there is no real risk. But that player would still occupy a roster spot and those could be scarce for San Antonio next season.
Most likely, the Spurs do what they usually do with those late first rounders and go with an international player that won't make the transition to the league for a couple of years. Fortunately for them, there seem to be a few really intriguing prospects.
The Spurs are rumored to have planned a workout with 7 foot 3 center Walter Tavares who is currently playing in the Spanish league. Tavares started playing basketball relatively late in his life, but has matured into a great shot blocker and more than capable rebounder at age 22. In a couple of years he might be able to do a decent Roy Hibbert impersonation.
There are other interesting prospects, like Damien Inglis who at 19 years old has the body of a full grown NBA small forward. Inglis has showed good defensive instincts and some playmaking ability in the French league that could help him become the next Nicolas Batum. If Clint Capela falls to 30th, the Spurs will likely pick him up, as the Swiss forward has an underdeveloped game but elite physical tools and upside. There's a decent crop of international players in this year's draft.
My pick: Bogdan Bogdanovic
Bogdanovic is former Spurs' draftee Davis Bertans' teammate in Partizan NIS Belgrade, so I had a chance to watch film on him while checking on the Latvian forward. The 21-year old Serbian shooting guard possesses a combination of shot making ability, passing acumen and he has a feel for the game that is hard to teach.
Bogdanovic is not a great athlete and has trouble finishing inside on occasion, but he can handle the ball and create for himself and others. His three point percentage doesn't jump out of the page but it's more that decent considering he often pulls up off the dribble. And with his huge wingspan and quick feet he could become a passable defender in the NBA. His weaknesses consist on forcing plays and not showing enough intensity on defense, but those are fixable shortfalls.
I won't say Bogdanovic is the next Manu, but I think he can be Evan Turner with a better three-point stroke. Not bad for a 30th pick.
Alright PtR, what are your thoughts on the draft? Should the Spurs trade up or down? And if they keep the pick, who should they draft?