Sleeper Draft Prospects That Need to Be on San Antonio Spurs' Radar
The San Antonio Spurs' players may be preparing for Game 7 of the NBA Finals, but the front office is giving some attention to next week's NBA draft.
San Antonio has been one of the best teams drafting players based on scheme rather than taking best available talent. The Spurs wanted now-defensive star Kawhi Leonard, so fan-favorite and blossoming point guard George Hill was traded to acquire Leonard on draft day in 2011. Fast forward to today, and Leonard's impact is clearly evident in this year's finals.
Head coach Gregg Popovich may not be coaching the team for many more seasons, but it is a safe bet that Pop wants specific players with certain mindsets on his squad while he is in charge.
Although San Antonio does not pick until very late in the first round, a bevy of talent will still be available when the team is officially on the clock.
Nate Wolters, Point Guard, South Dakota State
Nate Wolters is a pure shooter, but he is not afraid to drive the lane, either. Wolters can even drop a Tony Parker-esque floater.
If his name is even familiar, it is probably because Wolters netted a stunning 53 of his team's 80 points in a game this past season.
Though he played against undeniably weaker competition in college, Wolters averaged 22.3 points, 5.8 assists, 5.6 rebounds, 1.7 steals and 2.3 turnovers as a senior. Considering that he was the catalyst of SDSU's offense, the turnover rate is even more impressive.
Wolters would be a perfect pick at the end of the first round, especially because of his ball-handling ability.
And if Game 6 of the NBA Finals showed San Antonio fans anything, it's that Manu Ginobili and his eight turnovers won't cut it as the Spurs' primary ball-handler when Tony Parker is on the bench.
Livio Jean-Charles, Small Forward, France
Gregg Popovich told ESPN's Seth Wickersham that the Spurs are doing it right by drafting foreign players because they tend to be "fundamentally harder working than most American kids."
Hey, Pop. Meet Livio. He's from France.
Reading NBADraft.net's scouting report of Livio Jean-Charles, it screams Kawhi Leonard's long-lost brother.
Livio is a very long (7'2 wingspan) and fluid athlete who plays with high intensity and energy ... Excels in the role of garbage man, slashing to the basket and scoring on put backs ... A strong defender doing an excellent job of crowding opponents using his great length, reflexes and quick feet.
Jean-Charles appears to be a better scorer than Leonard and can also make some impact blocks with his 7'2" wingspan. Leonard's advantage, however, is seen in his stellar on-ball defense, but Jean-Charles can improve that facet of his game.
There is a very good chance the Spurs can snag Jean-Charles at the end of the first round, and the 19-year-old is worth that pick.
James Southerland, Small Forward, Syracuse
A 6'8" wingman, James Southerland was a lights-out three-point shooter for the Syracuse Orange, a team that made the 2013 NCAA Final Four.
Southerland is most effective as a rhythm shooter and can launch the triple from all over the court. His range will easily translate to the NBA.
His quick hands got him 1.5 steals per game last season, but gauging Southerland's individual defensive ability is difficult because he played in Syracuse's dominant 2-3 zone. San Antonio plays tough man-to-man defense, so Southerland must prove he can play in that type of system during his workout for the Spurs.
Danny Green has shown his value to the Spurs as a three-point shooter and in his tremendous transition defense throughout the NBA Finals. Southerland would have the same type of expectations should San Antonio take a chance on the New York native.
Kenny Kadji, Power Forward, Miami
Full disclosure: I am a Miami fan, so maybe this is a tad biased, but I am very familiar with Kadji's skill set.
Kenny Kadji is a versatile big man who can knock down a load of three-pointers, and some of the triples are from long, long distance. He does, however, stray too far from the post at times, therefore he does not utilize his 6'11" frame against smaller and mismatched defenders as often as he should.
Kadji can easily make an impact at the rim with his great jumping ability, but his outstanding length allows him to disrupt defensively as seen against Duke.
The biggest knock on Kadji is his age, as he is already 25 years old. Kadji must be able to produce immediately in the NBA, because he is entering the prime of his career as a rookie.
He would provide a more athletic stretch-four presence than the Spurs currently have in Boris Diaw, and Kadji can match Matt Bonner's three-point specialist duty while providing better defense, too.
Jeff Withey, Center, Kansas
Tim Duncan, like it or not, is still an elite big man in the NBA. His minutes may be cut down, but Timmy still produces at an unbelievable rate for his age.
But that age thing matters, and San Antonio must start to plan for the future without the Big Fundamental soon.
Jeff Withey could be that man. He is a premier shot-blocker as evidenced by the 7-footer swatting the most shots (146) in Division-I last season.
He also rebounds the ball very well, as he grabbed 8.5 boards per game as a senior, and the Spurs really need a big man who can box out well. Tiago Splitter is not a reliable rebounder, and Withey provides a more athletic defensive presence than Splitter, too.
Lucas Nogueira would likely be scooped up by the Spurs should he somehow fall through most of the first round, but the odds of that happening are not in San Antonio's favor.
Withey would have a year or two to develop under Duncan's leadership, and that is certainly an intriguing thought in San Antonio.