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Potential draft targets that would likely force the Spurs to trade up

Examining the pros and cons of each player the Spurs would likely have to move up in the draft to acquire.

Auburn v North Carolina Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

This is the second of a four part series covering the San Antonio Spurs’ draft options. Part one discussed the Spurs’ assets that could be packaged together in an attempt to move up in the draft and which teams might be willing to move down. This article will highlight those players who won’t likely be available to the Spurs at 19 whom the Spurs could be targeting in the draft. Part three will highlight players who should be available to the Spurs at 19 should they stand pat on draft night. Part four will highlight players who should be available to the Spurs at 29 should they stand pat on draft night. I apologize in advance as these next three articles are going to be a bit lengthy.

I watch college basketball as much as the next person, but in compiling the list of players who will likely be drafted before the Spurs’ 19th draft pick, I leaned on the most recent mock drafts from major media outlets across the internet. Specifically, I looked at Tankathon,, ESPN, CBS Sports, Bleacher Report, Sports Illustrated, The Athletic, The Ringer, and Yahoo.

The table below lists all players whose Average Mock Draft Position (AMDP) ended up being less than the Spurs’ 19th draft pick and had a small standard deviation (i.e. most mock drafts agreed that these players would be drafted before the Spurs at 19).

I have excluded Zion Williamson, Ja Morant, and RJ Barrett since they are almost guaranteed to go top three, and the Spurs don’t have the assets to get anywhere near that range. I have also excluded point and combo guards as I do not believe the Spurs should be targeting them in the draft. I could be wrong, but I hope not. Derrick White, Dejounte Murray, Lonnie Walker IV, and Bryn Forbes make for a formidable young guard rotation for the future.

Draft targets in a trade up situation

Player Position Average Mock Draft Position Draft Range Standard Deviation
Player Position Average Mock Draft Position Draft Range Standard Deviation
Jarrett Culver SG/SF 5.22 4-7 0.83
DeAndre Hunter SF 5.89 4-8 1.45
Cam Reddish SF 7.44 5-8 1.01
Jaxson Hayes C 10 9-12 0.87
Sekou Doumbouya SF/PF 10.33 9-13 1.8
Nassir Little SF 12.33 9-18 2.87
Rui Hachimura SF/PF 13.89 11-19 3.26
PJ Washington SF/PF 14.78 9-20 3.11
Brandon Clarke PF 16 11-23 4.85
Goga Bitadze C 17.22 14-25 3.67

The players above can be broken into two groups: Consensus top 10 picks and players outside the top 10 who are not likely to drop to the Spurs at 19.

There are countless sources available for researching the strengths and weaknesses of these players. Instead of listing these in this article, I’m going to provide reasons for and against the Spurs drafting each these players based on their upside, fit on the Spurs, and potential cost of drafting. I have also included a link to White-Walker76’s draft profiles where applicable. These excellent fan posts contain links to highlights, strengths and weaknesses videos, etc. for those who would like to receive more information on these players.

Group 1 - Consensus top 10 picks

I’m not going to profile Jaxson Hayes in this article because I do not believe the Spurs would give up valuable assets to move up for a true rim running center. The Spurs don’t have the personnel to fully take advantage of a player like Hayes, and there are other bigs who will be available later in the draft that would be a better fit for the Spurs.

Jarrett Culver - Sophomore - Texas Tech

Position: SG/SF; Age: 20; AMDP: 5.22

Height: 6’ 7”; Wingspan: 6’ 10”; Weight: 195 pounds

Points: 18.5 on 46.1/30.4/70.7 percent shooting

Rebounds: 6.4; Assists: 3.7; Blocks: 0.6; Steals: 1.5; Turnovers: 2.7

Known draft interest: None

White-Walker76’s draft profile: here

Pros of drafting:

  • The Spurs are sorely lacking a two-way wing, and Culver is one of the best in this draft.
  • The Spurs have too many one-dimensional offensive players (shoots but doesn’t drive, or drives but doesn’ tshoot). Culver has shown the ability to score from all areas of the court and has good court vision.
  • He has grown in height since starting college. If his growth spurt continues, his ability to dribble, pass, and shoot as a modern big could allow him to dominate at the next level.

Cons of drafting:

  • His outside shooting declined dramatically between his freshman and sophomore seasons. His free throw shooting was also under 70 percent in college, showing he could have spacing issues if he is not able to improve in this area.
  • The Spurs’ biggest need is a swingman or combo forward. Though Culver hit a growth spurt in college, he’s still under 6’7” and is less than 200 pounds. He would need to add 20-30 pounds if he wants to become a versatile defender at multiple positions. Right now he’s mostly a shooting guard, which is not an immediate need for the Spurs.
  • He’s almost certainly going to be drafted in the top 8 and most likely higher. That would cost one of Murray or White along with additional assets.
  • Culver projects to be a pick and roll wing, which is fine, but the Spurs have plenty of players who are capable of playing out of the pick and roll.

I don’t believe Culver is worth the assets required since I believe his status in the league could depend upon whether or not his growth spurt continues. In researching him, draft experts have most often compared him to Evan Turner. Nothing against Turner, but that’s not exactly a ringing endorsement. Also, watching him get dominated by DeAndre Hunter in the NCAA championship has left a bitter taste in my mouth.

DeAndre Hunter - Sophomore - Virginia

Position: SF; Age: 21; AMDP: 5.89

Height: 6’ 7”; Wingspan: 7’ 0”; Weight: 225 pounds

Points: 15.2 on 52/43.8/78.3 percent shooting

Rebounds: 5.1; Assists: 2.0; Blocks: 0.6; Steals: 0.6; Turnovers: 1.4

Known draft interest: None

White-Walker76’s draft profile: here

Pros of drafting:

  • The Spurs need a defensive wing who can spread the floor, and Hunter projects to be an excellent 3 and D player in the NBA. He can defend multiple positions at a high level.
  • He has shown the ability in college to not shy away from big moments and has consistently come up clutch in these situations.
  • His character and demeanor makes him feel like a perfect Spur.

Cons of drafting:

  • He’s almost certainly going to be drafted in the top 8. That would cost one of Murray or White along with additional assets.
  • I’m not sold on this since being 21 years old still offers up plenty of time for growth (see White, Derrick), but there are some who believe Hunter is a high floor, low ceiling player. That type of player is not worth giving up such assets for.

With Zion Williamson being unobtainable, I consider Hunter the only top 10 prospect worth trading up for in this draft, especially if he slips into the bottom part of the top 10. I don’t see him as a low ceiling type of player. I wouldn’t be surprised if he ends up being one of the top three players in this draft when all is said and done.

Cameron Reddish - Freshman - Duke

Position: SF; Age: 19; AMDP: 7.44

Height: 6’ 8”; Wingspan: 7’ 0”; Weight: 208 pounds

Points: 13.5 on 35.6/33.3/77.2 percent shooting

Rebounds: 3.7; Assists: 1.9; Blocks: 0.6; Steals: 1.6; Turnovers: 2.7

Known draft interest: None

White-Walker76’s draft profile: None

Pros of drafting:

  • Could be a steal at the end of the top 10 if he drops far enough.
  • Has excellent two-way potential at the wing and can defend multiple positions. Exactly the type of player the Spurs need on their roster.

Cons of drafting:

  • Huge risk to give up assets for a player who struggled with his efficiency at the college level.
  • Defenses typically left Reddish open while focusing their attention on Zion Williamson and RJ Barrett. Reddish was unable to take advantage of a reduction in defensive pressure, which calls into question his ability to become a scorer at the next level.

I think when all is said and done teams are doing to draft based on potential. I could see Reddish being drafted ahead of Hunter, though I believe that would be a mistake. I don’t think he’s worth the Spurs trading up for. He has the talent, but why give up known commodities for a player who was unable to excel on a team where everything was setup for him to succeed?

Group 2 - Players outside top 10 not likely to fall to the Spurs

Sekou Doumbouya - International - Limoges CSP

Position: SF/PF; Age: 18; AMDP: 10.33

Height: 6’ 9”; Wingspan: 6’ 11”; Weight: 230 pounds

Points: 7.8 on 48.2/34.3/79.3 percent shooting

Rebounds: 3.3; Assists: 0.7; Blocks: 0.5; Steals: 0.7; Turnovers: 1.1

Known draft interest: RC Buford attended a recent pro day workout of his

White-Walker76’s draft profile: here

Pros of drafting:

  • The Spurs are lacking a young combo forward in the mold of Doumbouya.
  • The Spurs were one of the worst defensive teams and transition teams in the NBA last season, both strengths of Doumbouya.
  • He only started playing basketball at the age of 12 and is the youngest player in the draft, so his room for growth is probably bigger than any other player in the draft.
  • NBA comparisons are oftentimes lazy, but there is a lot of noise from people that he reminds them of Pascal Siakam. With the Spurs unable to acquire him in a trade last summer, it might be nice to groom one of their own.
  • Buford recently attended a pro day workout of Doumbouya, showing some level of interest.

Cons of drafting:

  • He never dropped outside the top 13 in any of the mock drafts used in this article, meaning the assets required in moving up to draft him would be significant.
  • Being so young and inexperienced means he has a huge boom or bust potential. In giving up assets you would like to see a higher floor than what he presents to a team.

I think he would be an excellent pick on the off chance he falls to the Spurs at 19 or at least into the teens, but I don’t have enough information about him to decide whether or not he would be worth trading up for. He looked good in his pro day video I linked above, but it also looked like he was being guarded by me. He could be worth trading up for if the Spurs are playing the long game, but I’m not sure they are.

Nassir Little - Freshman - North Carolina

Position: SF; Age: 19; AMDP: 12.33

Height: 6’ 6”; Wingspan: 7’ 1”; Weight: 225 pounds

Points: 9.8 on 47.8/26.9/77 percent shooting

Rebounds: 4.6; Assists: 0.7; Blocks: 0.5; Steals: 0.5; Turnovers: 1.3

Known draft interest: Spurs interviewed him at the combine.

White-Walker76’s draft profile: here

Pros of drafting:

  • His +7 foot wingspan is one of the best in the draft, projecting as a pest defensively at the next level. The Spurs needs more length and defense at the wing.
  • His athletic ability and measureables give him one of the highest ceilings in the draft.
  • Has shown to be a high character player throughout his interview process with teams, only further enhancing his chances of succeeding at the next level.
  • He shot extremely well at the combine, helping to alleviate some of the concerns teams had about his ability to spread the floor. His mechanics are solid. The current iteration of the Spurs need a wing player who can knock down shots from deep.

Cons of drafting:

  • It wasn’t that long ago most mocks had Little available to the Spurs at 19. Jabari Young of the Athletic said that after the combine his range is closer to top 10 then it is 19. Is Little worth the assets required to move up that high in the draft?
  • Combine aside, Little under-performed mightily in his freshman campaign, coming off the bench in North Carolina and playing less than 20 minutes a game.
  • There have been some conflicting reports about how he may or may not have called out the coaching staff as the reason for his lack of success in college. Taken in context, it sounded as though Little was blaming himself and not the coaching.

If Little is there at 19, he would be right at the top of my draft board, but after the combine a trade up will almost certainly be required. The Kawhi Leonard comparisons are there, but there is a lot more to being Kawhi Leonard than simply having his body type. If Little is available at 13 I would certainly give the Miami Heat a call. Otherwise, there will be other players available later in the draft who are great prospects.

Rui Hachimura - Junior - Gonzaga

Position: SF/PF; Age: 21; AMDP: 13.89

Height: 6’ 8”; Wingspan: 7’ 2”; Weight: 225 pounds

Points: 19.7 on 59.1/41.7/73.9 percent shooting

Rebounds: 6.5; Assists: 1.5; Blocks: 0.7; Steals: 0.9; Turnovers: 1.8

Known draft interest: None

White-Walker76’s draft profile: here

Pros of drafting:

  • Has excellent size at the wing, allowing him to be a lengthy combo forward in the vein of a younger Rudy Gay.
  • His improvement from his freshman to junior seasons has been remarkable, especially knowing he didn’t start playing basketball until he was a teenager. Given the Spurs’ strong developmental program, his upside is off the charts.
  • He is a strong dribbler for his size and can really get out in transition. The Spurs need players like this to put pressure on opposing defenses. This is exactly how the Toronto Raptors found success against the Golden State Warriors in the NBA finals.
  • He can get buckets with the best of them. The Spurs had a good offense last season, but the more people who can be relied upon to score when necessary the better.
  • Three mock drafts have him falling in the 17-19 range, making a potential trade up for him less expensive, if necessary at all.

Cons of drafting:

  • His size projects him as a strong, versatile defender at the next level, but I know several people who watch Gonzaga basketball regularly who said he was a terrible defender in college. Right now he’s considered one of the worst defenders in the draft, which is something the Spurs have too much of right now.
  • He shot well from three last season but on limited attempts. He went 9-40 from deep in his freshman and sophomore seasons. We’ve seen in the playoffs where ball-handling bigs who can’t shoot get exposed. He will need to work on expanding his outside game.

There are several Pounders who are extremely high on Hachimura. I’m not one of those people, although I admit he would be hard to pass up at 19th. I wouldn’t trade up for him unless he dropped far enough to where it would only cost the 19th draft pick and a second round draft pick.

PJ Washington - Sophomore - Kentucky

Position: SF/PF; Age: 20; AMDP: 14.78

Height: 6’ 8”; Wingspan: 7’ 3”; Weight: 230 pounds

Points: 15.2 on 52.2/42.3/66.3 percent shooting

Rebounds: 7.5; Assists: 1.8; Blocks: 1.2; Steals: 0.8; Turnovers: 2.0

Known draft interest: Spurs interviewed him at the combine.

White-Walker76’s draft profile: here

Pros of drafting:

  • A common theme of these players is that they are lengthy wing players capable of playing multiple positions. The Spurs need lineup versatility featuring players such as Washington, so he would be a good fit in that regard.
  • There were concerns about his ability to stretch the floor after his freshman season. He took his game to the next level in his sophomore season by averaging 42 percent from deep on over 2 attempts per game.
  • He has a high BBIQ player with excellent passing ability, especially out of the post. He can play from the post and likes to play bully ball but can also get out and run. His ability to score in both a fast-paced and half-court offense is good for a team like the Spurs.

Cons of drafting:

  • He is a bit of a tweener, currently unable to defend from the post very well nor, is he quick enough to guard players out on the perimeter. His lack of athleticism and size could hamper his upside, although his huge wingspan should help.
  • Most mock drafts have him late in the lottery, likely costing the Spurs two first round picks in order to move up (e.g. trading with the Miami Heat at 13). There are a number of wing players in the late lottery and beyond, making it a decent chance that a similar player drops to the Spurs without the need to move up.

I see him as a bit of a Julius Randle or David West type player. I didn’t add this to the pro or con list, since I wasn’t sure where it should be placed, but Washington is an excellent mid range player. I’d prefer that the Spurs move away from the mid range somewhat, but the Spurs could find this to be a useful skillset.

Brandon Clarke - Junior - Gonzaga

Position: PF/C; Age: 22; AMDP: 16

Height: 6’ 8”; Wingspan: 6’ 8”; Weight: 207 pounds

Points: 16.9 on 68.7/26.7/69.4 percent shooting

Rebounds: 8.6; Assists: 1.9; Blocks: 3.2; Steals: 1.2; Turnovers: 1.5

Known draft interest: None

White-Walker76’s draft profile: here

Pros of drafting:

  • He was the most efficient player in college last season outside of Zion Williamson. He is going to do a lot of the dirty work (rebounding, rim running, blocking shots, etc.) that can be the difference between winning and losing a game.
  • Clarke just knows how to play basketball. He’s not going to wow teams with his measureables, which I believe is going to result in him sliding in the draft somewhat. He has a higher floor than some of these other draftees with higher upside.

Cons of drafting:

  • He is going to be 23 before the season starts. That’s not the end all that be all, but I think there will be younger players with higher upside in this range.
  • The Spurs need a stretch big, which Clarke is not at this stage of his career. I don’t think he and Jakob Poeltl could play alongside each other, which would limit the Spurs’ lineup flexibility.
  • Clark is very athletic but his poor wingspan is concerning. He would also need to add more weight if he hopes to be a small ball 5 in his career, which is probably his best bet at finding a role in the NBA.

With everything going on in the NBA right now, the Spurs need to be thinking about finding their next superstar, not settling for players whom I believe have a ceiling as an above average role player. Clarke is a safe pick but I’m hoping for a bit more of a risk come draft night.

Goga Bitadze - International - Buducnost

Position: C; Age: 19; AMDP: 17.22

Height: 6’ 11”; Wingspan: 7’ 2”; Weight: 250 pounds

Points: 12.1 on 54.8/31.2/71.4 percent shooting

Rebounds: 6.4; Assists: 1.2; Blocks: 2.3; Steals: 0.5; Turnovers: 1.4

Known draft interest: His first workout was with the Spurs

White-Walker76’s draft profile: here

Pros of drafting:

  • Has been playing against professional competition since he was a teenager. This should make him more NBA ready than the majority of the college players that will be available to the Spurs in this range.

Cons of drafting:

  • He’s been rising in most mock drafts, making it less likely the Spurs will be able to draft him using their 19th pick. The Spurs could just be in a wait and see situation, but if they are targeting him in the draft, it may require additional assets in order to seal the deal.
  • Goga is not very athletic and could struggle defending players on the wing. He could be seen as a potential replacement to LaMarcus Aldridge or Poeltl, but I don’t see him fitting alongside them very well.
  • Swingman and combo forward are the two biggest positions of need for the Spurs. They need better lineup versatility, and as a pretty traditional big Goga does not fill that need.

I certainly see the intrigue with him as a prospect. If the Spurs are drafting best player available at 19th, Goga could be the way to go. If the Spurs are drafting based on need, he might not be high on their list. With a saturation of wings in his draft range, he is one of the few bigs who will be considered by teams drafting in the late lottery. Because of this, I expect him to be slightly overvalued and end up getting taken before the Spurs 19th draft pick.

Final thoughts

I expect there to be many surprises on draft night, so it’s entirely possible that one of these players end up being available to the Spurs at 19. If I were ranking them in terms of upside, cost to obtain, and need, I would rank these players as follows:

  1. Nassir Little
  2. DeAndre Hunter
  3. Rui Hachimura
  4. Sekou Doumbouya
  5. Cam Reddish
  6. PJ Washington
  7. Goga Bitadze
  8. Jarrett Culver
  9. Brandon Clarke

The next article in this series will discuss the pros and cons of drafting players who have high volatility in their draft range or who are expected to be available to the Spurs at 19th.