The Spurs Best Options at Pick #29

The Spurs are lucky to have two first-round pick (#29) in this year’s NBA draft. They have made out fairly well drafting in the later stages of round 1 since the 2000-01′ season. In the 18 drafts during that span, San Antonio has selected 13 players in the first round at #25 or later.

Four picks were immediately traded (Leandro Barbosa and John Salmons) or waived within their rookie contracts. However, another 8 made significant contributions to future Spurs teams. Among them are fan favorites (George Hill, Beno Udrih and Tiago Splitter), depth pieces (Kyle Anderson and Cory Joseph), current starters (Dejounte Murray and Derrick White) and a future Hall of Famer in Tony Parker.

The diligence of the Spurs scouts provide the team with another great opportunity to secure a solid contributor in this year’s draft. Among the below listed players, I believe this staff will find a solid contributor for next year’s campaign.

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1sPlayers to consider:

Centers: Nicolas Claxton (Georgia)
Wings: KZ Okpala (Stanford); Cameron Johnson (North Carolina); Matisse Thybulle (Washington); Mfiondu Kabengele (Florida State); Luka Samanic (Croatia); Dylan Windler (Belmont); Chuma Okeke (Auburn); Admiral Schofield (Tennessee); Grant Williams (Tennessee)
Guards: N/A

Option A: One of Thybulle/Claxton/Kabengele IF they still remain on the board –

Each preferred option at pick #19 ( could still be available at #29. Given the wide range each could fall within, it’s possible the Spurs get two of these players. The only scenario in which they’re unlikely to do this would be to take Claxton and Kabengele.

This would create a log jam in the frontcourt heading into next season and would not make much sense. However if San Antonio sees the possibility of improving Claxton’s shot and ball handling abilities, they could experiment with him at the SF spot as he often did in college. Their best bet though is to pair Thybulle with either Claxton or Kabengele to match their benefits with the Spurs deficiencies defensively and rebounding the ball.

Option B: Cameron Johnson SF, North Carolina –

Typically guys spending all 4 years in college are not viewed as highly as one-and-done guys. They’ve conceivably lowered their talent ceiling at the expense of development. The same applies for Johnson, after spending four years at North Carolina. However, he is arguably one of the purest shooters in this year’s draft behind Kentucky’s Tyler Herro.

San Antonio frequently uses shooters, like Johnson, in their offensive systems and runs a ton of screens for them. He would fit right in this system and help maintain the high efficiency of Pop’s offense. At 6’8” there should be plenty of opportunistic mismatches created within the Spurs pick-and-roll offense enabling Johnson to stay aggressive and drive the ball to the rim. He is a career 82.8% free-throw shooter and will provide much needed consistency and improvement for this team at the charity stripe.

Option C: Kezie ‘KZ’ Okpala SG/SF, Stanford –

I have no problem if the Spurs pick a more polished or older player such as Dylan Windler, Admiral Schofield, Grant Williams or Chuma Okeke (Auburn – ACL tear) here. However, I prefer Okpala out of Stanford for several reasons.

Notably his production was outstanding for the Cardinal (16.8 PPG), despite being incredibly raw. He has room to improve in all facets of shooting, but his physical gifts (6’8”/225) helped him to thrive against top D1 competition. He can immediately contribute as a role player and potentially blossom into the starting lineup. Okpala is very smooth with the ball in his hands and is very capable of creating shots off the dribble. With so much room to mold his game, there is no doubt in my mind a player of his caliber can flourish under the Spurs great track record of development. 

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