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Spurs NBA Draft 2016 Prospectus: Part 3

In the third installment of the Spurs Draft Prospectus, we will look at possible trades, examine possible lottery picks and discuss selected players in the draft.

Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

In the first two parts of this series, we looked at how the Spurs are approaching the draft, and analyzed the current roster to find out how best to improve it. This installment looks at players in the draft that could help the Spurs and discusses possible trades to acquire them. Later this week, we'll look at who is likely to be available when the Spurs pick at the 29th pick, so stay tuned.

Trade Analysis

The core of Kawhi Leonard, LaMarcus Aldridge and Tony Parker are untouchable, and won't get any trade consideration.  Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, David West, and Andre Miller are contemplating retirement and aren’t going to be traded.  Boban Marjanovic, Kevin Martin and Matt Bonner are free agents and as such, cannot be traded.  Already, we have 2/3rds of the roster not available to be traded.

In order to trade Danny Green, you would have to get a very valuable asset in return, and that's not something that is often available. Perhaps you could find a draft pick that the Spurs could turn into a Klay Thompson (#11 in 2011) or Stephen Curry (#7 in 2009). Or perhaps even a Kawhi Leonard, who was available at #15 in 2011-- 4 picks after Klay. Danny isn’t likely to justify a draft pick higher than say 7 or 8, even when paired with other tradeable Spurs. What is the likelihood that an "almost generational player" falls beyond 7 or 8?  Almost zero, but as we see, it can happen.  So in summary, no, Danny isn’t likely to be traded unless we are talking about an incredible player that unexpectedly becomes available later in the first round than expected.

Other players available for the right trade/price are Jonathon Simmons, Kyle Anderson, Patty Mills, and Boris Diaw.  For me, trading Jonathon Simmons would require an offer that makes no sense for the receiving team.  For example, I might be willing to trade Simmons for the 15th pick in the draft.  But why would another team accept that given that Simmons only has 1 more year on his contract? They wouldn’t. Depending on who is on the board after that pick, I probably wouldn’t accept a pick much after the lottery for Jonathon. Kyle Anderson would also require an exceptional trade offer for the Spurs to part with him, since he has shown great promise in the Spurs system and is on his rookie contract.

Patty Mills is good enough to start on a handful of NBA teams, and is mature enough to be a good mentor and leader for a young PG. There are plenty of NBA teams who should be interested in a player of Patty’s caliber who has championship experience.  From the Spurs point of view, I think we can replace Patty with another under-sized PG.  I’d hate to lose him, but his skill set is more replaceable than most.  What would Patty be worth in terms of the draft?  I would say a first round pick 20-25, plus a second round pick next year.

Boris Diaw is different story.  Boris’s skill set is entirely unique.  His attitude is unique. As demonstrated by his role on the French national team, he can be a leader. He is absolutely unselfish, and would be entirely happy never taking a single shot and passing to younger developing players.  His conditioning isn’t always exemplary, but he is a man with many talents.  But around the NBA, Boris isn’t viewed the way I see him.  He is seen as a player with a large-ish contract who has motivation problems and requires a special coach to motivate him.  Popovich is one.  Probably Budenholtzer and Carlisle could also do it.  Perhaps Brown in Philly or Stevens in Boston.  Maybe even Vogel in Orlando or Spoelstra in Miami.  Kerr could use him at Golden State, but we aren't trading a talent like Boris (and make no mistake, Boris is a talent!) to Golden State.  What is Boris worth?  I would place a fairly high value on Boris, particularly if David West retires, such as a first round pick in the 10-20 range, plus a second round pick either this year or next year.  Value is a function of supply and demand, and Boris’s skill set is unique.  Most folks around the NBA would strongly disagree with this valuation because they don’t see much demand for Boris. But for the Spurs, this is what it would likely take for them to part with Bobo. A player on the level of Cheick Diallo, for example.

Lottery Talent

It's already known that Ben Simmons is going to be drafted #1 by the Philadelphia 76ers, and Brandon Ingram is almost certainly going to be the #2 pick of the Los Angeles Lakers.  After that, the rankings get a whole lot closer for picks 3-8, which might include Kris Dunn, Marquese Chriss, Buddy Hield, Jamal Murray, Dragan Bender, and Jaylen Brown, depending on the mock draft and potential trades.  After those 8 the next group is Jakob Poeltl, Henry Ellenson and Skal Labissiere.  Then there is another cluster of players from about 12-20 including Wade Baldwin, Domantas Sabonis, Timothe Luwawu, Dejounte Murray, Deyonta Davis, Malachi Richardson, Cheick Diallo, Juan Hernangomez, Taurean Prince, Denzel Valentine, DeAndre Bembry and Furkan Korkmaz.  There's not much chance that any of these players will be available at the 29th pick when the Spurs draft.

Are any of these players worth trading up for? Dragan Bender's stock appears to be falling, according to multiple sources.  In my opinion, this is happening for good reasons. I am a huge fan of Kristaps Porzingis, who I think will be a legitimate superstar in the NBA, and who could become a cornerstone for an NBA Championship roster.  Dragan Bender, on the other hand, has NOT accomplished what Porzingis accomplished at Sevilla in the Spanish ACB, and has not demonstrated a level of consistency and moxy that is essential for high level success in the NBA.  There are some extenuating circumstances, such as the turmoil at his club, Maccabi Tel Aviv in Israel, but the fact remains he has not yet proven himself in Europe. So although he might have great talent, he hasn’t demonstrated it in Europe as Porzingis did and I would be extremely uncomfortable drafting Bender in the early lottery below 3.

At the moment, several mock drafts have Bender falling to Denver at 7, and if Denver trades the pick, it's conceivable that he might fall even further.  Denver has an excellent European scouting organization, and already have Jusuf Nurkic, Nikola Jokic, and Joffrey Lauvergne on their roster.  Denver doesn’t really need another talented European F/C.  However, from a Spurs point of view, if Tim Duncan really is going to retire, then Bender becomes very, very attractive.  Players like Bender don’t come around often, and one can see how his skill set of defensive mobility, shooting, post passing and rim protection would make sense playing along with Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge.  I don’t think Denver would be interested in a trade centered on Danny Green with other players possibly involved (Mills, Diaw?), but it would be worth a phone call.  In the unlikely event that Denver were to agree to such a trade, serious thought would need to be given to the balance between developing Bender and competing for an NBA Championship.  That balance would be extremely difficult, and would cause heartburn not only inside the Spurs organization but with the fans as well, but Bender's talent is probably worth it.

Is there anybody else in the lottery that is both reasonable and worth having?  For me, there might, might be one more.  Wade Baldwin has potential, but also some risk.  Chicago has the 14th pick, and they are struggling with what to do with Jimmy Butler.  If Wade Baldwin is still available at 14, then an offer of Danny Green for the 14th pick and additional second round picks might be justified. Maybe. Here’s why:


Draft Year




No Step Vertical

Max Vertical



Russell Westbrook









George Hill









Danny Green









Wade Baldwin









Note: 2016 NBA Draft Combine No Step Vertical and Max Vertical data contained significant errors.

While Baldwin isn't tall, his 6’11" wingspan more than compensates for this deficiency.  It is impossible to know if the vertical testing is accurate, but it could be inflated by as much as 2-4", since he's not known as an explosive leaper.  He consistently shot better than 40% from three-point range in college, and has excellent defensive tools. He isn’t as good of a ball handler as one would like, and his penetration and finishing aren't that great.  However, if he had all of those qualities, he would be a high lottery pick, not a late lottery pick, and he's only 20. He's a good passer, and has good vision. Could he possibly be an upgrade on Danny Green down the road?  He's a good shooter, has similar defensive potential, and has better ball handling potential. Think a slightly bigger George Hill but with a slightly better shot and more attitude. Maybe too much attitude. It is also possible that Baldwin will drop into the 20s, in which case trading Patty Mills to draft Baldwin looks much more attractive and less risky. But I don’t expect him to fall that far.

Late Lottery Big Men

Among the big men being considered in the late lottery and up to 20, none really stand out.  None of them are unique.  Most would be welcome additions, but are not worth the roster shake-up to trade for them, and the teams interested in drafting them are not interested in expendable Spurs assets. There might be equivalent but less costly alternatives later in the draft.


Don’t hold your breath that any of the lottery picks will be wearing a Spurs cap on draft night as they walk to the podium.  Just because R.C. Buford and company try to move heaven and earth to get into the late lottery doesn’t mean there will be any takers.  However if Dragan Bender and/or Wade Baldwin start falling, keep an eye out.  Next up, what are the most likely Spurs selections at 29?

Part IV is coming …