Spurs Twitter has been ablaze with trade machine ideas for acquiring another lottery selection in the 2023 NBA Draft. Ever since the Spurs received the number one overall pick in the draft, where they will most likely be taking Victor Wembanyama, the idea of pairing him with another high level talent has intrigued many. Once that idea was substantiated by a rumor from NBA Big Board’s Rafael Barlowe, things really heated up.
But what if they can’t find a good deal to move into the lottery? They still have two swings at a talented young player in the second round, with selections 33 and 44. San Antonio has had success with second round picks in the past. Tre Jones, DeJuan Blair, Goran Dragic and Manu Ginobili all were second round selections who went on to have successful careers.
While it’s usually much harder to find franchise altering talent at the bottom half of the draft, this draft is deeper than most years, and some players have a selection range anywhere from 20 to 40. That means San Antonio has a chance to surround their current core (plus Wemby) with some interesting young players with their last two selections. Here are five players they should consider.
Marcus Sasser, Guard, Houston
San Antonio’s goal of moving up in the draft is to grab guard talent. They may be able to grab an enticing ball handler in the early second round. After returning to Houston for his fourth season, Sasser led a talented squad to a number one seed in the NCAA tournament before being sidelined with a groin injury. He was a shot making machine for the Cougars, averaging 16.8 points on 44% from the field and 38% from three.
Sasser is a smaller guard, standing at 6’2, but with a 6-foot-7 wingspan he can hold his own defensively. Opposing players shot just 35% from the field when guarded by him last year. He was particularly proficient scoring in the pick and roll (.974 ppp) and on spot up attempts (1.293 ppp) where he was in the 89th and 97th percentile respectively in points per possession. Despite not offering much as a playmaker, he’s an interesting option who can create his own shot as a plug and play scorer, while providing a defensive presence. As the Spurs search for guard help, they shouldn’t overlook players with that type of skillset and proven success at a high level of competition.
Bilal Coulibaly, Guard/Forward, Metropolitan 92
Every franchise player needs his wingman, right? Coulibaly has been Wembanyama’s with Metropolitan 92 over the last few months. The 18-year-old 6’6” wing has become one of the most exciting players in this draft with his combination of size, athleticism, defensive ability and shooting flashes. His efficiency as a secondary option could make him first round pick come draft night.
If he manages to slide to 33, the Spurs should pounce on the high upside player. It may take Coulibaly a while to adjust to NBA defenses, but he has the tools and instincts to guard at a high level immediately. His opponents in France are shooting just 32.5% from the field when guarded by him. He would likely have to play a smaller role, and may benefit from some time in the G-League, but the long term fit with Wembanyama is too good to pass on with one of the Spurs second round picks.
Oscar Tshiebwe, Center, Kentucky
San Antonio should also look for some bigs in the second round, especially ones who can handle the dirty work of interior defense and rebounding. There were few better interior players in college than Kentucky’s big man, Oscar Tshiebwe. Last season he averaged 16.5 points, 13.7 rebounds while shooting 56% from the field and 73% from the line.
He is an older player, doesn’t provide much as a floor spacer and won’t jump off of the page as a rim protector. However, he is a sturdy player at 6’9” 260 pounds, with a 7’4” wingspan. He will battle in the paint and allow Wembanyama to operate on the perimeter and as a weak side shot blocker. His rebounding and interior presence would bring the type of physicality the team currently lacks in their front court. He’s not the perfect player, but you could do worse with the 44th pick.
Kobe Brown, Forward, Missouri
Staying in the SEC, Kobe Brown is one of the most underrated players in the draft. The 6’6” forward is a hulk on the basketball floor who can do a bit of everything. In his senior season at Missouri, Brown averaged 15.8 points, 6.4 rebounds and 2.5 assists while shooting 55/46/79 splits. He was the best player on an overachieving team that won the school’s first NCAA Tournament game since 2010.
Brown’s progressed consistently over his four seasons at Missouri, showing that he’s a player that can develop in a good system. He was utilized all over the floor for the Tigers, operating out of the high post, low post, pick and roll as a screener and ball handler, as well as spotting up. He guarded wings and bigs alike, with the frame and athleticism to hold his own on that end. He would be a plug and play forward next to Wembanyama who could defend bigger players inside, and switch onto quicker players on the perimeter. Brown is the type of versatile wing that elevates good teams to great ones.
Brandin Podziemski, Guard, Santa Clara
One of the fastest risers in the NBA draft, Podziemski could be a first round pick come draft night. The Santa Clara point guard was one of the stand outs from the NBA draft combine. He came to Chicago with question marks surrounding the level of competition he faced in the West Coast Conference, as well as if his athleticism and shot making would transfer to the next level.
He answered those questions by standing out in the scrimmages, and testing well (especially with his 39-inch vertical leap.) He showed legit playmaking chops, spraying the ball around the scrimmages and not forcing his own looks. Podz is a knockdown 3-point shooter who hit 44% of his 6 attempts per game last season. He’s an underrated rebounder from the guard position and a fierce competitor. He’s the type of chippy guard who makes good decisions we’ve seen playing in the Heat vs. Celtics series. If he’s available at 33, and the Spurs are looking for some help at guard, Podziemski could provide them with a skillset they don’t currently have on the roster.