The Spurs have been smart about stashing players selected with second rounders for years. Initially they mostly did it with foreign prospects but recently they have focused on Americans that are willing to go to Europe as well. As a result, they still have exclusive rights to prospects that are developing abroad and could one day make the jump to the NBA.
The strategy doesn't always pan out and it requires a lot of patience, both by the front office and the fans. It's understandable to want to actually add players with the draft but there was no room on the roster recently for second rounders that might not last past training camp, so it made sense to go the draft-and-stash route.
With a lot of players entering free agency this year and few signed past this season, however, spots will be available. So let's take a quick look at how this season has gone for the stashed players and whether they are ready to play in the NBA or not.
- Age: 22 years old.
- Position: Small forward.
- Height: 6'10"
- Current team: Baskonia (Spanish league). Possibly headed to Barcelona (Spanish league).
Bertans was having a fantastic season for Baskonia, not looking out of place at all against better competition after leaving Partizan Belgrade. He was a key member of the team, starting most games and playing over 20 minutes per. He was not as good in Euroleague play (35.5 percent on 6.4 three-point attempts a game) as he was in the Spanish league (41.7 percent on six attempts) but was still one of the most dangerous outside shooters in the continent. Unfortunately he tore his ACL on April and will be sidelined at least until October.
Bertans is the best prospect the Spurs had exclusive rights to and it wasn't even close. He's essentially a 6-foot-10 sniper who can hit shot coming off screens or with his feet set while also having enough athleticism to compete on the defensive end. If not for his injury, this might have been the summer in which the Spurs would have brought him over.
Bertans will obviously miss Eurobasket and reportedly has a deal in place to join European powerhouse Barcelona, pending a physical after he recovers. It's too early to speculate but Bertans will likely try to keep an NBA out clause on his contract, so the switch shouldn't affect his chances of joining the Spurs in the future.
Age: 21 years old
Position: Combo forward.
Current team: ASVEL (French League).
Jean-Charles missed last season with a knee injury he suffered while playing with the U-20 national team. He started his comeback this year while still playing for ASVEL, the team Tony Parker owns. He struggled finding consistency, alternating great games with poor ones. The fact that his role and his minutes also changed seemingly from game to game obviously didn't help. He was on his way to finish the year strong before an ankle injury prevented him from playing the last two playoff games for ASVEL before they were eliminated.
Jean-Charles played along two traditional big men most of the time but also saw some time at power forward. His averages are not impressive (four points and three rebounds in 14 minutes per game) but he had some strong performances mixed in. What's worrisome is that he took just 10 three-pointers in 48 games and missed all of them. Teams can get away with non-shooters in the French league because transition offense is prevalent but Jean-Charles needs to develop a shot if he wants to make the jump to the NBA.
The good news is Jean-Charles is just 21 years old, the same age as Willie Cauley-Stein and younger than Frank Kaminsky, for comparison. He got to play a full season for the first time in his career against more experienced opponents and didn't look out of place. There's still significant potential there. The Spurs will just have to be patient.
- Age: 26 years old.
- Position: Wing.
- Height: 6'7"
- Current team: Avellino (Italian league) and Baskonia (Spanish league).
Hanga struggled last season so Baskonia loaned him to Avellino of the Italian league. That was very much a demotion comparable to being sent to the D-League, as Avellino is a middling club in its domestic league while Baskonia made the playoffs and made the top 16 in Euroleague play. Hanga joined Baskonia for the Spanish league playoffs after his season in Italy ended but barely played.
Time is running out for the Hungarian swingman as a viable NBA prospect. He showed no improvement as a three-point shooter, averaging 26 percent from outside on almost four attempts per game. That continues to be his Achilles' heel and what will likely prevent him from ever making the jump. He is athletic enough and his defense and slashing are solid, but without a three-pointer, it's hard to imagine him becoming a good role player at the NBA level.
Hungary didn't make the cut for EuroBasket so Hanga will rest this summer. He's still under contract with Baskonia, so unless there's a transaction he will be in Spain again next season. His chances of joining the Spurs don't look good right now.
- Age: 23 years old.
- Position: Combo forward.
- Height: 6'7"
- Current team: Barcelona (Spanish league).
Thomas didn't disappoint in his first year in Barcelona. The 6-foot-7 forward not only cracked the rotation but played around 20 minutes per game in both the Spanish league and the Euroleague. Barcelona bowed out of Euroleague play earlier than they anticipated but will likely play the Spanish league finals, as they are up 2-0 in their semifinals series. Thomas was scoreless on the second game but opened the series with a tidy 12 points on six shots.
The biggest question for Thomas as an NBA prospect is whether he can defend small forwards and be a role guy after being a high usage player in college and last season in France with Nanterre. On both areas he seems to be making improvement. He went on a strict diet at the request of the team's trainers and reduced his body fat. He's played small forward most of the time, which hurt his rebounding numbers, but will allow him to continue to grow as a perimeter player. His usage is down but he's finding ways to help the team, boasting solid net ratings in both competitions without dominating the ball.
Thomas will likely benefit from more seasoning abroad but another good year could draw the attention of the Spurs. He's still under contract with Barcelona, so he could be Bertans' teammate next season.
- Age: 22 years old.
- Position: Wing.
- Height: 6'8"
- Current team: Red Star (Serbian and Adriatic leagues).
Dangubic made a jump to a Euroleague team this season and his numbers suffered for it. He shot just 39 percent from the field in that tournament and his assists, steals and rebounds per minute were down. It was to be expected on his first real taste of elite competition. His Adriatic league numbers were better but it wasn't a great year for the Serbian wing.
Like Hanga, Dangubic has very good physical tools but his lack of a reliable jumper really hurts his chances of making it to the NBA. In all competitions combined he shot 32 percent from beyond the arc. Unlike Hanga, however, he's young enough that he should be able to improve on that and hopefully add some muscle to his thin frame. There's potential because of his elite athleticism but he's definitely not ready for the NBA yet.
He's in the Serbian national team's preliminary squad for Eurobasket but it's unlikely he makes the cut.
- Age: 25 years old.
- Position: Shooting guard.
- Height: 6'3"
- Current team: Enel Brindisi (Italian League). Becoming a free agent.
After missing most of last season with a knee injury, Denmon made his return in the Italian league, playing for Enel Brindisi. He continues to be the player he was before he got hurt: a gunner with no conscience. Denmon attempted 12 field goals per game despite shooting 39 percent from the floor.
It's not his fault, as that's his role on the team. Unfortunately, at 6-foot-3 and with a short wingspan Denmon won't be able to play shooting guard in the NBA. Then again, Gary Neal made the jump, so stranger things have happened. With that in mind, it wouldn't be surprising to see the Spurs try to get Denmon on their Summer League squad if he doesn't have a deal in place after his contract with Brindisi expires.
Stats via Draftexpress, Real GM and Sports-Reference.