San Antonio Spurs Draft Outlook
Pounding The Rock
Finishing the 2018-19 season with a 48-34 record, the San Antonio Spurs secured the seventh seed in the Western Conference and will square off with Denver in the first round of the playoffs. Even though the team made it into the postseason, they do not pose as a serious threat to make it out of the west. All of the focus is turned toward the future, more specifically the NBA draft.
As an organization, San Antonio has been known to find the ‘diamond in the rough’ type prospects and also develop them into quality contributors within their system. This draft will be an interesting one, considering that the Spurs hold the rights to Toronto’s first-rounder via the Kawhi Leonard trade, to pair with one of their own. Here is everything need to be known about the Spurs’ draft situation and a couple of prospects that best fit.
Projected Selections: 19 or 20; 29 (via Toronto)
Notable Returners: F LaMarcus Aldridge, G DeMar Derozan, PG Patty Mills, F Davis Bertans, G Bryn Forbes, C Jakob Poeltl, G Lonnie Walker, G Derrick White, G Dejounte Murray
Notable Free Agents: F Rudy Gay
Team Needs: Big men, wing depth
F PJ Washington- Kentucky
2018-19 (sophomore): 15.2 PPG (52.2% FG); 7.6 RPG
PJ Washington was a part of a select few group of players who thought returning to college would boost their draft stock appropriately. Luckily for him, it looks as if he almost certainly made the right decision. At 6-foot-7, Washington does not represent a traditional big man, but he sports a 7-foot-2 wingspan, His length and lateral quickness make him a defensive stronghold who alters shots and rebounds effectively. Although he has not truly developed an offensive identity, Washington has a nice touch and improving footwork, allowing him to score frequently and efficiently around the rim. Having shot 42.3% from deep on only 2.2 attempts per game doesn’t point to an immediate threat from behind the line, but alludes to the potential perimeter game.
There is no telling where Washington will land in the first round; late lottery to mid-20’s seems to be the most logical range. If he is available when the Spurs are on the clock, they should not hesitate. Not only does he offer immediate depth in the frontcourt, but Washington brings interior toughness and athleticism to the table. He may not be ready to contribute substantially from the get-go, but with the help of the Spurs’ developmental team, could turn into a key contributor for years to come and a perfect small-ball center.
SF KZ Okpala- Stanford
2018-19 (Sophomore): 16.9 PPG (46.5% FG); 5.7 RPG
Like Washington, Okpala also has a 7-foot-2 wingspan, but they have two different body types. Just 215 lbs, the Stanford product will likely need to put on muscle, but possesses all the physical tools to be a quality wing in the NBA. This collegiate season, Okpala has shown drastic perimeter shooting improvement and has displayed his ability to drive and finish around the rim. Assuming he keeps his name in the draft, Okpala offers a unique possible three-level scorer with high upside.
His overall game will need some polishing, but he fills the wing depth need for San Antonio. His length and quickness could allude to a three-and-D wing role with the system, but his ability to make plays is a luxury for the Spurs. There is a reasonable amount of risk with Okpala, but the upside is astonishing. With proper development, he could potentially reach an all-star caliber level one day.
F Mfiondu Kabengele- Florida State
2018-19 (Sophomore): 13.2 PPG (50.2% FG), 5.9 RPG
Kabengele is a high-risk, high-reward type prospect and is raw offensively. It’s unclear what his role would be in the NBA, but he is a quick, athletic big man who plays quality defense and can score in a multitude of ways. The Canadian was perhaps the most valuable player on Florida State’s Sweet-16 squad, but his averages aren’t necessarily eye-opening. Kabengele does all of the little things: unmatched hustling, screen-setting, and toughness/effort in the paint. He has the ability to affect a game in more ways than just scoring.
Like Washington, Kabengele would give the Spurs a needed big man and a potential small-ball center. His length and athleticism would allow him to see the court immediately, but his offensive toolset needs some development. The cousin of Dikembe Mutombo, Kabengele is a defensive asset with his quickness and shot blocking. San Antonio could possibly select him with the pick from Toronto, but he is continuing to rise up big boards. Although I wouldn’t use the 17th overall pick on him, I would definitely take Kabengele if he was available at 29.