Ranking San Antonio Spurs' Best Options with No. 26 Pick in 2015 NBA Draft
Last year, at this time, the San Antonio Spurs entered the summer with just one priority: keep everything as it was.
Coming off a championship, San Antonio had found a winning model and elected to enter the 2014-15 season with an identical roster, save for draft pick Kyle Anderson.
However, the team fell short in its quest for a repeat, losing to the Los Angeles Clippers in the first round.
Now it's apparent that the Spurs need to make changes in order to succeed going forward. The NBA draft has become an essential part of the franchise's offseason—a first for San Antonio in a long time.
That said, the No. 26 first-round pick doesn't exactly promise a superstar, as the choice comes with little certainty. Still, the Spurs will have options regarding how they should approach the selection—a luxury many teams cannot claim.
5. Trade the Pick
Should San Antonio trade its pick?
As the Big Three prepares for its final hurrah, one would think that the team should be prioritizing the present. Acting on that could mean using the pick in a deal to bring a proven talent into the system instead of waiting to see how the first-round selection develops over time.
However, doing so would be a mistake. The pick isn't nearly high enough to bring in talent that would make a huge splash, and the looming retirements of Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili necessitate a rebuilding effort.
Unless a package deal emerges that allows San Antonio to spin its current first-rounder into a higher one, the front office should forget about trading the pick. Any benefit to the squad's 2016 title chances would be marginal, and the need to prepare for the future is simply too great.
4. Strengthen the Point Guard Rotation
Somewhere along the way, it was determined that San Antonio needed to draft a point guard in this year's draft.
Call me crazy, but with Cory Joseph—who recently broke out—on the verge of departing in search of a bigger role, I see the 1 as a minor priority given the team's holes elsewhere.
Sure, a few talented prospects are going to fall within the Spurs' range. Louisville's Terry Rozier and Utah's Delon Wright are talented scorers who can boost any franchise's backcourt.
However, Patty Mills is already a scoring threat off the bench at the guard position and requires playing time that leaves little for an incoming rookie.
If the Spurs are desperate for a point guard, they should consider giving Joseph another shot. He's proven, knows the system and is worth the extra money, especially with the salary cap expected to surge.
Unless they're entirely out of options and a floor general is by far the best talent on the board, the Spurs should prioritize the frontcourt.
3. Draft and Stash
It's been a full year since San Antonio drafted and stashed. With the team's ideal targets all on the fringe of going off the board prior to the Spurs' pick, circumstances could force the team to go overseas at No. 26.
Doing so would help the team in a number of ways. With the core around for potentially one final season, the Spurs have to balance rebuilding with competing for one last title before the Big Three breaks up.
Stashing their first-round pick would give them the option to use the roster spot on a veteran with greater present value, while their draft selection progresses overseas for later use.
Of course, it would only make sense if a solid international prospect falls into their lap at No. 26. Bleacher Report draft guru Jonathan Wasserman shared with B/R's Stephen Babb a few names that should be on San Antonio's radar:
Macedonia's Cedi Osman is staying in the draft and could be a stash option for San Antonio. He played big minutes alongside Dario Saric against quality competition in Euroleague. He's a 6'8" wing who can handle the ball, pass and knock down open shots. Center Guillermo Hernangomez is another international name to watch at No. 26. He was one of the most productive young players in the Spanish ACB, and he received plenty of exposure playing next to Kristaps Porzingis for Sevilla.
Osman is a high-IQ player with a good feel for the game. His size and length are ideal for San Antonio, though his limited physicality puts him at a disadvantage defensively.
As a shooter, his mechanics are said to be ugly, but with coach Chip Engelland on staff, the Spurs could turn that around.
Hernangomez is the more interesting option. With size (6'11", 255 lbs) and toughness, he could complement Tiago Splitter on the block going forward. And while he lacks the explosiveness to be a rim protector, he's a good passer and smart ballplayer, which suggests he'd be a good fit in the Spurs system.
2. Find Tim Duncan's Replacement
If a wealth of sizable talent was expected to fall to the end of the first round, or if San Antonio's pick was a bit higher up on the draft board, going big would be a no-brainer.
Regardless of what his consistently stellar play might suggest, Duncan is on his last legs. Behind him, Tiago Splitter—despite his value as a player—is an injury risk, while Aron Baynes remains unproven. Boris Diaw is anything but a go-to big in the post, and both Matt Bonner and Jeff Ayres could find themselves jobless by summer's end.
From the NCAA pool, Syracuse' Chris McCullough could be an option. He has the length and athleticism to make it in the pros, though a rough finish to his freshman season hurt his draft stock. Prior to missing the final two months with an ACL injury, he shot 9-of-34 in eight games.
Nonetheless, his hot start to his college career, combined with his athleticism and offensive versatility, makes him an attractive candidate at No. 26.
There's a need for size in San Antonio, though the draft's shallow pool of quality power forwards and centers means that, unless a certain player falls into the team's lap, it would be better off looking elsewhere for the pick.
1. Draft a Swingman
Though the need for size may shadow that for a wing, drafting a 2 or 3 would be a far safer bet for San Antonio. At the shooting guard and small forward positions, there are more options than there are at the 4 or 5. And wingmen, especially those taken out of the lottery, typically translate better into the pros than late-selected bigs.
Two needs exist for San Antonio at these positions. First, with Manu Ginobili on the cusp of retirement, the team is going to need another shot-creator to replace him off the bench. Georgia State's R.J. Hunter—a versatile scorer and tournament hero—is expected to be a late first-rounder and would be an excellent selection for San Antonio.
Second, this past season confirmed the need for another lockdown wing defender. With free agent Danny Green's future in San Antonio unclear, the need to boost the perimeter defense is growing.
Luckily, realistic options exist who would fit perfectly.
Virginia's Justin Anderson is a three-and-D renaissance type with IQ, length and athleticism to boot. He can shoot, drive, pass and, of course, defend in a way that should make him the Spurs' top target. However, he's been floating around the NBADraft.net board and could potentially fall out of San Antonio's reach depending on how his value fluctuates over the next week.
The same applies to Arizona's Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, a Kawhi Leonard-type with length, athleticism and defensive grit, which compensate for his offensive shortcomings.
If either player remains on the board when the Spurs pick at 26, it would serve them well to consider taking a wing.