Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Sizing Up Spurs Draft Prospects

We've still got two rounds of playoffs to go and two weeks to go in May, but I can't wait for the month of June. Between the end of the conference finals, the finals and the NBA Draft, the month of June is great. It all started last night with the NBA Draft Lottery. The Cavs struck gold with the first pick (with the Clippers' pick no less) and also have the fourth pick in the draft. The Timberwolves got the second pick in the draft then David Kahn said some unflattering things about widows and sick kids. They'll probably take Derrick Williams, but some reports are Kahn  wants to trade the pick. And yes, I think the Spurs should call and say can we interest you in Tony Parker.

What is for sure is that the Spurs have the second to last pick in the 1st round. The name of the game is defense. This year is more critical than ever to get the pick right because it's a weak draft. There's a few guys at the back end of Ford's 1st round that could help the Spurs.

-Lucas Norgueira, Brazil: He's listed at 6'11" but this photo floating around the internet shows him at least and inch or two taller than Dwight Howard. He's only 18 and probably needs another year or two in Europe to bulk up and develop offensively. But defensively he's a rebounder and shot blocker, so really there's not much else to say about the Spurs needs. Also, he has awesome Sideshow Bob like fellow Brazilian Anderson Varejao, so that's a plus. And Brazilian big men have a pretty good track record in the league so far.

-Tyler Honeycutt, UCLA: You see this guy and you think Tayshaun Prince. 6'8", rail thin and very sharp defensively. I think ideally the Spurs would like a big man they can develop, but if they can find a guy to slice in to Richard Jefferson's minutes that isn't 6'3" (I'm looking at you Gary Neal) that'd also be a big help defensively. Ford's lists Honeycutt's strengths as a super smart small forward, excellent passer, high basketball IQ, good size for his position and a great shot blocker. So basically everything the Spurs need right now. ESPN projects him to go to the Thunder at #24, Hoops Hype has him going #17 to New York. Sports Illustrated just released their mock draft and they have Honeycutt going #20 to Minnesota (a small forward is just what the T'Wolves need since they have Wesley Johnson and Martell Webster... Kaaaaaahhhhhnnnn!).

-Malcolm Lee, UCLA: Here's a guy who could be a really great pick if he falls in to the right system. He's a 6'5" point guard who is an elite defender and can guard both guard spots. His jumper is inconsistent but sounds like it's workable. Chad Ford made a terrific point in his latest blog post. UCLA players under Ben Howland have over performed once they got in to the league. Jrue Holiday and Aaron Afflalo are two great examples of mid to late first round picks who have turned in to starters quickly for their perspective teams. Basically Lee reminds me of George Hill, except he played in the Pac-10 and not the IUPUI select conference. If the Spurs were to actually trade Tony Parker (doubtful), Lee could be the new project and given the recent UCLA track record could be an excellent pick.

I love all three of these options for a team that has the second to last pick of the first round. I don't know if they'll pan out, but the Spurs have seemed more focused in the last few years of developing their draft picks instead of either trading the pick or stashing a guy in Europe... forever.

A couple of other notes: I did a mock draft with Dale Blasigame over at the Normal Guy Guide. We loathe this draft from about pick 5-20. 20-30 is good for value, but I would have picking in the teens in this draft.

There are a couple guys I love in this draft. One is Williams. Another is Jan Vessly. He plays at an elite league in Spain and attacks the basket. Think a young Tracy McGrady. If the Wizards can draft him at #6, then they instantly become a must see when they come to Sacramento next year. 

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