New York City -- The Spurs aren't in line for any of the 19 prospects who were present at today's media avail in New York. And yet those players had a lot to say about the Spurs. Is that a testament to how great an organization San Antonio is? That goes without saying. It could also suggest PATFO are looking to trade up. With their need for shooting, Timothe Luwawu, Malik Beasley, and Malachi Richardson could all be potential candidates. These players are projected to go in the 10-20 range, with an outside chance of falling to the twenties. Any of them would require a trade.
At this point, if the Spurs are content to draft a center they should have some choices at twenty-nine. But if they want more shooting and immediate impact, it will require a move up. There's enough rumbling to suggest this could happen tomorrow night. True shooting guards like Klay Thompson are scarce. Everyone needs shooting and if you can find guys that can shoot, guard both wing positions, and attack off the dribble then you have to be aggressive. Three guys there today fit the bill:
Luwawu met with Spurs officials but did not work out for them. When asked about their response he said, "They like my game. They love French players," and went on to list several Spurs international players. Cliches and comparisons to Nic Batum aside, Luwawu is a 6-foot-7 wing. Defense is his strength, but his three point shot improved to nearly 39% in international play. The concern here is that he wouldn't be an upgrade over Danny Green unless he really improved his shot. It's not clear if he'll develop into a sharpshooter, and the Spurs have young wings now in Anderson and Simmons.
Malik Beaskey worked out for San Antonio and should be drafted after Luwawu. He spoke highly of San Antonio when asked by Jeff Garcia of News4SA. "They have a great staff. They have a motto of Pounding the Rock that I'm all about." When asked which Spurs player he's the most like he said, "Danny Green but more athletic and with a better stroke." Beasley shot 47% from the field for Florida State and just under 39% from three. Like Green, he needs to work on his ball handling in order to take NBA defenders off the dribble. But at age 19, he could be a steal in this draft.
Malachi Richardson didn't work out for the Spurs, but may be a target. PATFO may not want to show their hand. Richardson shot just 35% from three this season, but he was a gamer. He helped lead Syracuse to an improbable Final Four run. He has a 7-foot wingspan and is one of the longer wings in the draft, and ideal as a switching defender. I asked him about his ability to switch given his length: "I mean I'm not comfortable guarding a 5, I think I can guard 1-3. Being a smaller 3 guarding a 4 is possible but a 5, no." Richardson didn't seem to think there would be a transition going from playing 2-3 zone at Syracuse to man in the NBA. "No, there's no transition. I wasn't there that long where I was stuck playing a zone and we played man in practice."
The Spurs were likely doing their due diligence since no trade is imminent. Having said that, a trade up would likely be for a wing. There are too many centers that will still be available at 29 and there's no point guard other than Kris Dunn from Providence who is a sure thing. Two-way wings have become the most valuable position in the NBA, and the uncertainty of these prospects means they will fall outside the top 10, much like Kawhi did in 2011.
Other Spurs News from Media Draft Day
While Dragan Bender will not be a Spur, he spoke fondly of soon-to-be Spur Davis Bertans when asked by the media:
"I watched him a lot when he was in Belgrade. He's a great player, a great shooter, and a really athletic guy. Unfortunately, he had injuries and slowed down, but this year he was also amazing in Euro league. This injury that he had really slowed him down but this year he showed everyone that he's the same player he was before. I think he's going to fit perfectly in that kind of system, he's a great teammate."
When asked about any contact with the Spurs himself, he said he hadn't met with the club. "They've been to Tel Aviv watching some games."
I asked Bender about his strengths and weaknesses on the defensive end and he said the following:
"I need to put on some weight to be able to battle with these guys under the basket and around the basket. On the perimeter I'm pretty good at that. This past year with Maccabi Tel Aviv I switched a lot and I guarded a lot of guards, just pressuring full court and switching every screen with a big or whoever. I'm capable of doing those things and am looking forward to doing that at the highest level in the NBA."
With Derrick Rose traded to the Knicks, Boston offering up the number 3 pick, the Wolves offering up number 5, and Philly sitting with three picks, tomorrow night should be full of action and movement. Tweet at me @CoachHorowitz13 for any questions or live updates concerning the Spurs or anything else Draft-related!