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Exploring possible trade scenarios for the Spurs to move down in the draft

There are a couple teams with a plethora of second round picks who might be looking to package them in an attempt to move up in the draft. The Spurs should be interested.

SEC Basketball Tournament - Second Round Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

This is the final article of a five 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. Part two highlighted those players who won’t likely be available to the Spurs at 19th whom the Spurs could be targeting in the draft. Part three highlighted those players who should be available to the Spurs at 19th should they stand pat on draft night. Part four highlighted those players who should be available to the Spurs at 29th should they stand pat on draft night. This article will explore trade down scenarios. I apologize in advance as these articles are a bit lengthy.

The Spurs have two first round draft picks for the first time since drafting David Robinson and Greg Anderson in the first round of the 1987 NBA draft. With such little historical data, it’s difficult to know which direction the Spurs will go on draft night. The Spurs could trade up, stand pat, trade picks this year for future picks, or trade down.

With this draft widely considered to be a flat yet deep draft, trading a first round draft pick or a player already on the roster for an extra draft pick early in the second round might be the best solution. I wouldn’t consider the NBA draft to be a numbers game, but with the amount of questions surrounding many of this year’s draftees, stockpiling players to develop could increase the likelihood of finding draft gold.

NBA draft pick value

I first showed the chart below in the article detailing possible trade up scenarios but it will also be applicable to any possible trade down scenarios. This chart comes from ESPN’s Kevin Pelton and is based on historical performance from players drafted in these positions. His chart from last summer looked as follows:

Potential trade partners

The first thing to look at is which teams might be willing to part ways with one or more of their second round picks to either move up in the draft or for an established player already in the NBA.

Atlanta Hawks

The most obvious choice is the Atlanta Hawks. They have six picks in this year’s draft and have made it known they are looking to package some of these picks to move up in the draft. This article is only concerned about their three second round picks, which land at 35, 41, and 44.

Atlanta Hawks’ GM Travis Schlenk had the following to say about their second round draft picks:

It’s no secret with our three second-round picks we are going to try to package them and move up if we can. That’s easy for me to sit here and say. It’s harder to accomplish.

According to the value chart above, their three second round picks are worth a total of 1460 points. In using the 33 percent overpay rule for moving up that I established by looking at trades previously made in the NBA, the Hawks should be able to package these picks to move up into the early 20s. This assumes they are able to find a team willing to accept a three-for-one draft pick deal.

I do not believe the Spurs should offer their 19th pick for multiple second round draft picks. The Spurs would lose their best chance at finding talent in the draft and would give them five draft picks in this year’s draft. That seems like overkill. The other option would be to package their 29th and 49th picks in exchange for the Hawks’ three second round picks. The Spurs’ 29th and 49th picks are worth 1050 points, so that seems like a reasonable trade. The Hawks might be able to do better though.

The Spurs could look to simplify the trade by offering up the 29th pick in exchange for two of the Hawks’ three second round picks. I wouldn’t settle for anything less than the 35th and 41st picks in this scenario. The Spurs would then have the 19th, 35th, 41st, and 49th picks in this year’s draft. Some of these players would have to be signed to G-League or two-way contracts since the Spurs don’t have a ton of open roster spots this year.

Instead of pick swapping, the Spurs could offer up one of Bryn Forbes or Davis Bertans for the 35th pick. The Hawks recently traded for Allen Crabbe and also have Trae Young, Kent Bazemore, and Kevin Huerter to soak up minutes at the guard position. This makes their need for Forbes unclear. They do need depth at the stretch four position and have the cap space to absorb Bertans’ contract, so that seems like a much better fit. I’m not sure this is what the Hawks are looking to do though. They seem intent on packaging their picks to move up in the draft instead of using their picks for players already in the NBA.

I hope the Spurs at least give the Hawks a call to see if there’s the potential for any kind of deal. I have a similar draft grade on almost every player in the 25-40 range.

Philadelphia 76ers

The second most obvious trade partner is the Philadelphia 76ers. They have four second round picks: 33, 34, 42, and 54. They also have the 24th overall pick in the draft. The 76ers were a decent three point shooting team last season, but JJ Redick, Tobias Harris, Jimmy Butler, T.J. McConnell, Amir Johnson, and Mike Scott are all free agents. They need to surround Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid with shooters, making the Spurs a potential trade target. The Spurs could offer up one of Forbes, Bertans or possibly even Marco Belinelli for one of their second round picks. Which pick would depend on which player the Spurs were willing to trade. Depending on how the 76ers do in free agency, they could end up having enough cap space to absorb one of these contracts.

The other option involving draft pick swaps would be similar to what was laid out with the Hawks. I don’t think the 29th and 49th picks would be enough for the 76ers’ 33rd and 34th picks, but 33 or 34 along with 42 might get the job done. There are countless permutations of how the pick swapping could go down so I won’t take the time to cover all of them.

One interesting trade would be the 76ers’ 24th, 33rd, and 34th picks for the Spurs 19th and 49th. The 76ers’ three picks are worth around 2000 points, and the Spurs two picks are worth around 1560. That seems like a reasonable trade scenario if the 76ers are looking to trade up. The Spurs would have four picks between 24th and 34th, which to me is a sweet spot in this year’s draft.

Other options

The rest of the teams in the early second round do not have ample draft picks that they could move around in a trade. If one of them are looking for an established shooter for their second round draft pick, the Spurs would be a good trade partner.

Players to target in a trade down situation

For a refresher, below is a list of players who are expected to be available in the late first round or early second round range.

  • Nicolas Claxton
  • Bruno Fernando
  • Luka Samanic
  • KZ Okpala
  • Grant Williams
  • Talen Horton-Tucker
  • Dylan Windler
  • Daniel Gafford
  • Chuma Okeke
  • Eric Paschall
  • Isaiah Roby
  • Darius Bazley
  • Louis King
  • Jontay Porter

I’ve already profiled the majority of the players on this list in previous articles with the exception of Louis King and Jontay Porter.

Louis King - Freshman - Oregon

Position: SF; Age: 20; AMDP: 43.33

Height: 6’ 8”; Wingspan: 7’ 0”; Weight: 195 pounds

Points: 13.5 on 43.5/38.6/78.5 percent shooting

Rebounds: 5.5; Assists: 1.3; Blocks: 0.2; Steals: 0.9; Turnovers: 2.1

Known draft interest: None

White-Walker76’s draft profile: here

Pros of drafting:

  • He is a versatile player on the offensive side of the court. His 38.6 percent from deep and 78.5 percent from the free throw line show that he has the ability to be a solid outside shooter in the NBA. He also looks natural shooting off the dribble, which is something the Spurs need far more than another spot up shooter.
  • He’s only 20 and has the measurements to be a solid wing in the NBA. He will need a year or two of seasoning before he could contribute to a playoff team, which isn’t really an issue for the Spurs. Very few second round players make an impact on playoff teams in their rookie season.
  • He had a knee injury in high school that caused him to miss a year. It took him a while to find his rhythm at Oregon, but he got stronger as the season progressed. Once fully healthy and with some extra seasoning, he could prove to be even greater than what he was able to put on display as a one-and-done in college.

Cons of drafting:

  • Despite his measurements, he’s not yet a quality defender. His small frame resulted in him getting bullied a lot by larger players.
  • His decision making and shot selection need a lot of work
  • He had a knee injury as a senior in high school that kept him out of action for nearly a year. He looks healthy now but injury concerns should always play a factor when trying to build towards the future.

King would likely only be a consideration if the Spurs trade up or down into the early part of the second round. His AMDP was 43, but he had a relatively low standard deviation. As a result, he was only available to the Spurs at 49th in one of the mock drafts I used when putting this series of articles together. I like his potential as a prospect if he can stay healthy moving forward.

Jontay Porter - Sophomore - Missouri

Position: PF/C; Age: 19; AMDP: 45.5

Height: 6’ 11”; Wingspan: 7’ 0”; Weight: 210 pounds

(Statistics are for the 2017-2018 season since Porter was out with injury last season)

Points: 9.9 on 43.7/36.4/75 percent shooting

Rebounds: 6.8; Assists: 2.2; Blocks: 1.7; Steals: 0.8; Turnovers: 1.9

Known draft interest: The Spurs were interested in drafting Porter in the first round of the 2018 NBA draft before he decided to return to school for his sophomore season.

White-Walker76’s draft profile: here

Pros of drafting:

  • I can see why the Spurs would been intrigued by Porter’s game. He can pass, shoot, and dribble, which are attractive attributes for a big. He has a bit of an old school game, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing since he can still spread the floor.
  • High BBIQ player.
  • If he is still there at 49th, the Spurs must take a chance on him. He’s a potential lottery talent and is definitely young enough to recover from his injuries and end up being the steal of the 2019 draft.

Cons of drafting:

  • Porter tore his ACL and MCL in October of 2018. He was back on the court in March and promptly re-tore his right ACL. He later admitted that he rushed back before he was medically ready to resume basketball activities. He’s only 19 and has plenty of time to heal, but he’ll likely have to redshirt his rookie season.
  • Last summer, before Porter’s injuries, people already had concerns about his conditioning and body type. Those questions will only be amplified leading into this year’s draft.
  • His ability to guard players on the perimeter and out of the pick and roll are legitimate concerns that he won’t be able to answer before the draft.

At 49th, the Spurs should run to the podium to draft Porter. I’m almost certain a team like the Hawks or 76ers will take a flier on him earlier in the second round if they keep the majority of their ample draft picks. With that in mind, the Spurs will likely have to trade up into the earlier portion of the second round to have a shot at drafting him. I still think it would be worth the trade up as his upside is that high.

Final thoughts

Because of the flattened nature of this year’s draft, I would strongly consider a trade down if I were PATFO. I spent some time thinking about it and my preferred trade down scenario would be with the 76ers. The exact trade would be as follows:

  • The Spurs receive the 24th, 33rd, and 34th picks from the 76ers
  • The 76ers receive the 19th and 49th picks from the Spurs

I think the 76ers would push to replace the 34th pick with the 42nd pick, but I wouldn’t budge if I were the Spurs. Here would be my dream draft in this scenario:

  • Spurs draft Keldon Johnson or Luka Samanic with the 24th pick.
  • Spurs draft Chuma Okeke with the 29th pick.
  • Spurs draft Dylan Windler with the 33rd pick.
  • Spurs draft Jontay Porter with the 34th pick.

If the Spurs end up with the 42nd pick instead of the 34th, Louis King would be another fine option if he is still available.

I will close out my draft-related articles with a mock draft based on team needs, rumors, and gut feelings I have about what’s going on around the league.