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Three More Prospects the Spurs could Target with an Additional First Round Pick

The price of another lottery pick could be high, but there is plenty of talent available from picks 15 to 30

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament Second Round-Creighton vs Baylor Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

There are just two weeks until the NBA Draft. Before long, the world will get to see Victor Wembanyama walk across the stage and put on Spurs merchandise for the first time as a member of the franchise. That alone is reason for elation from Spurs nation.

But it may not be the most exhilarating thing to happen in the next thirteen days. The Spurs are rumored to be looking for another first round pick to sure up their guard rotation. With Tre Jones, Devonte Graham and Blake Wesley as the main ball-handlers in San Antonio, they could use a prospect who has high upside as a playmaker and shot creator. Luckily for them, this draft is plumb full of players who match the profile.

The price for a lottery pick in this draft is likely to be high. The top end talent this year is legit, but players in the 20 to 40 range tend to blend together a bit in terms of talent. Last yeark, the Oklahoma City Thunder had to trade three protected first round picks to the New York Knicks for the 11th overall pick, where they selected Ousmane Dieng. The prospects in that range this season are more highly touted than last. The Spurs have unprotected picks with higher value at their disposal, and could put together a competitive offer for another lottery pick.

However, if they wanted to save some of their lucrative draft capital, and still acquire another first, looking at picks 15 to 30 might allow them to still grab a high upside player. There are a high volume of combo guards and wings who are exciting players that could bring a much needed skillset to the Spurs roster. Here are a few they should target in the mid-to-late first round.

Keyonte George, Guard, Baylor

George came into his freshman season as a highly touted draft prospect due to his scoring ability. He showed flashes at Baylor, but spending time in a crowded back court alongside Adam Flagler and LJ Cryer hindered his chance to shine. He spent 48% of his possessions with the Bears spotting up, rather than with the ball in his hands where he shines.

George averaged 15.3 points, 2.8 assists, and 1.1 assists per game in his freshman season. He did not have an efficient year, shooting 37.6% from the field, 33.8% from three and 79.3% from the line, causing his draft stock to fall. He struggled with some maturity issues on the offense end, where he had the tendency to float around the perimeter instead of engaging with the offense.

The belief in George comes in his ability to be an absolute bucket getter despite what the counting stats say. He showed enough at Baylor to get selected in the first round, and has the upside to be a star in the NBA. George is a dynamic shot creator, with his ability to score off of the bounce, shoot from deep and off of movement, as well as finish at the rim with explosiveness. He shined in the pick and roll, where he average .83 points per possession. George is an underrated defender who works really hard, and gets after ball handlers.

George has a lot of tools, but just needs them to be honed by a great development system. That’s why the fit in San Antonio is so appealing. He struggled to make the best reads in college, but under Gregg Popovich’s tutelage, could blossom into one of the league’s best combo guards. The Spurs need explosive playmakers who can space the floor next to Wembanyama. George is someone that fits the profile and could be worth acquiring another first round pick to select.

Kobe Bufkin, Guard, Michigan

A left-handed combo guard who can create for himself and others... sound familiar, Spurs fans? Bufkin has become one of the “draft nerds’” favorite prospects due to his size, shooting, defensive ability and playmaking flashes he showed at Michigan.

As a 19-year-old Sophomore, Bufkin averaged 14 points, 2.9 assists and 1.3 steals, while shooting 48.2% from the field, 36% from three and 84.9% from the free throw line. He was one of the few efficient scorers for a struggling Wolverine’s squad. Kobe has good size for a combo guard at 6-foot-5, but isn’t an incredible athlete. In a recent picture with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who is listed 6’6,” he looked to be the same height if not taller. That size comes in handy on defense, where he held opponents to 37.6% shooting.

Bufkin’s best strength is his at-the-rim finishing, where he shot 71 percent. That is not normal for a guard. He’s strong and can finish creatively with both hands. In the right system, Bufkin will bring elite rim pressure. The reason there needs to be a system caveat, is that he hasn’t shown the ability to consistently create driving lanes for himself off of the bounce, instead getting downhill in the pick and roll, or on dribble hand offs.

His weaknesses can be overcome by the Spurs system. The team runs a lot of pick and rolls and handoffs out of their high post action. His ability to be a playmaker in those situations give him an advantage over some of their current guards like Malaki Branham, who is more of a scorer at this moment. As San Antonio builds an increasingly versatile roster, someone like Bufkin is a player who can bring them strong shooting, finishing and passing from either guard spot while providing plus defense.

Nick Smith Jr., Guard, Arkansas

Another highly touted player out of high school who was somewhat disappointing in college, Smith Jr. brings a lot of talent in the middle of the first round. The Arkansas freshman had to sit out the majority of his collegiate career with a knee injury. When he came back, he couldn’t quite find the rhythm or success that was expected of him.

The Razorback averaged 12.5 points and 1.7 assists on 38/34/74 shooting splits in just 17 games. Despite the disappointing season, he still flashed the potential that made him a highly touted prospect out of high school. He’s a high level athlete with a lightning quick first step. His game is reminiscent of the herky jerky, mid-range pull up style that players like Tyrese Maxey have thrived on. He’s got a long wingspan to match his 6-foot-5 frame, and uses it and his quick feet to hound ball-handlers, helping his projection as a point of attack defender.

Smith Jr. told the press after his workout with the Wizards that he felt he didn’t get to show off his “point guard abilities” at Arkansas. He had a 1:1 assist to turnover ratio, and didn’t show many signs of being a leading playmaker in college. His three point shooting was also inconsistent, and must improve if he wants to cut it in the NBA. His physical tools and creativity as a scorer are what make him a high potential prospect. There are sure to be some growing pains along the way.

Smith Jr. seems like a player that could fall on draft night. He was reported to be working out with the Miami Heat, who have the 18th pick in the draft. If he falls into the 20s, the Spurs could dangle their 33rd overall pick plus future capital to move up and grab the high ceiling prospect.

Bonus: GG Jackson, Forward, South Carolina

Not a guard, but GG Jackson seems to be slipping in the draft projections. Some draft experts say he may reach the second round. Jackson was the number one recruit in the class of 2024, but reclassified to play at South Carolina one year earlier. He is the youngest player in the draft, and averaged 15 points and 6 rebounds in his freshman season. Immaturity and offensive inefficiency have tanked his draft stock.

However, Jackson has elite offensive tools, a good body and high level athleticism. He could be a dynamite pro player if he lands in the right spot. If he falls into the late 20s, the Spurs should pounce on an elite talent who may need the structure that Popovich can provide. This is the type of player that you take a swing on late in the first, and early in the second round.