The Bucks are NBA champions for the first time in precisely five decades after a magnificently played Finals from Giannis Antetokounmpo and crew. Although Milwaukee and head coach Mike Budenholzer will be using this offseason to retool their roster and defend their title, San Antonio, his old stomping grounds, are in the process of recapturing their former glory as perennial title contenders.
Every team goes through a rebuilding phase, and whether we like to admit it or not, the Spurs are facing a critical juncture in deciding their long-term trajectory. DeMar DeRozan, Rudy Gay, and Patty Mills are off the payroll, and with more than $50M in cap space to spend this summer, free agency could bring them a notable name like John Collins to play alongside their budding young core.
However, small market organizations have time and time again turned to the NBA Draft as a method for obtaining elite talent without breaking the bank or relinquishing existing assets. Few franchises have employed this system better than PATFO. And while luck undoubtedly played into them landing Tim Duncan and David Robinson, their second consecutive trip to the lottery likely won’t result in such a prospect.
The 2021 NBA Draft is just a day away, and though we have a list of more than 40 names of players the Spurs are confirmed to have worked out or interviewed ahead of the annual event, we still have almost no clue as to who they, or any club for that matter, might pick. SB Nation recently held their annual mock draft, so I tried my hand at playing the role of armchair GM for San Antonio to the best of my ability.
Before we get into how the draft panned out leading up to the 12th overall pick, it’s worth noting that no trades were allowed. Also, all selections came before the Pelicans shipped Steven Adams, Eric Bledsoe, the 10th pick, and a future first-rounder to the Grizzlies in exchange for Jonas Valanciunas and the 17th pick on Monday.
2. Houston Rockets -Jalen Green, G, G League Ignite
3. Cleveland Cavaliers - Evan Mobley, C, USC
4. Toronto Raptors - Jalen Suggs, G, Gonzaga
5. Orlando Magic - Jonathan Kuminga, F, G League Ignite
7. Golden State Warriors - Davion Mitchell, G, Baylor
8. Orlando Magic - Moses Moody, F, Arkansas
9. Sacramento Kings - Jalen Johnson, F, Duke
10. New Orleans Pelicans - Franz Wagner, F, Michigan
Despite little consensus around this class after Cade Cunningham, Jalen Green, Jalen Suggs, Evan Mobley, Jonathan Kuminga, and Scottie Barnes, this little experiment was almost frighteningly unsurprising. Every blogger settled on a prospect that I could see their respective team choosing, and the only slight shock was the fact Josh Giddey fell right into San Antonio’s lap near the end of the lottery.
No incoming player has done more to raise their draft stock over the last two years than Josh Giddey. From a relatively unheralded Australian high school recruit to college offers from Arizona and Colorado to representing the Boomers on the international stage to becoming the youngest player to record a triple-double in NBL history, Giddey has seen his projected value skyrocket to lottery status.
There were other players I considered taking at this spot, but Giddey is the perfect blend of best player available and upside swing. His lack of range won’t do much to help San Antonio’s awful three-point numbers. But at only 18-years-old, Giddey is the second-youngest prospect in the 2021 NBA Draft, and he will have plenty of time to develop a jumper under legendary shooting coach Chip Engelland.
The six-eight point guard is easily one of the best passers in this class, and with DeMar DeRozan potentially on his way out the door, the Spurs could use another distributor to replace the production left behind in his wake. Finding touches for the oversized playmaker might be challenging with all the guards already on the roster, but adding skilled youngsters should be more important than just filling a positional need.
Giddey sits eighth on my Big Board, so this was a no-brainer for me. Averaging 10.9 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 7.5 assists, he was a nightly triple-double threat in NBL, which produced a pair of productive rookies in LaMelo Ball and R. J. Hampton a year ago. His numbers and efficiency were comparable to the reigning rookie of the year, and a player with his high-level feel for the game should transition smoothly to the NBA.
The former Adelaide 36er won’t turn the Silver and Black into instant title contenders upon his arrival. And he has several areas to shore up before he can be considered an organizational cornerstone. However, should he fall this far, and should San Antonio’s storied developmental staff help him unlock his full potential, PATFO could be looking at another infamous draft day steal.
If you want to see every pick from the SB Nation Blogger Mock Draft, click here.
And make sure to check out all of Pounding the Rock’s 2021 NBA Draft coverage.