The Runner Sports

San Antonio Spurs Pre-Draft Breakdown

If you take LaMarcus Aldridge’s 17-footer, David Lee’s cuts to the basket, Pau Gasol’s size, Dwayne Dedmon’s defense, Kawhi Leonard’s stoicism, and Tony Parker’s leadership, you still only barely begin to fill the void left by Tim Duncan.

Now Dwayne Dedmon is gone officially, and Pau Gasol will most certainly opt into the last year on his deal. The Spurs need length. Athleticism. Playmaking. Rim defense. Rebounding. And the Spurs have the 29th pick in the draft to try to do something about it.

With these factors in mind, the Spurs have a few pre-draft workouts scheduled in the upcoming weeks.

Here’s the list:

G Sindarius Thornwell (South Carolina, senior)

South Carolina had an amazing run in March, giving Frank Martin a reason to relax the muscles on his forehead for once. His team singlehandedly ruined hundreds of brackets on its way to a Final Four berth. If you watched Alabama beat South Carolina in triple overtime last February, you probably caught a glimpse of a kid named Sindarius Thornwell going 25-33 at the free throw line. That’s impressive. Also impressive, 21 rebounds and a total of 44 points for Sindarius on the night. He’s got a serious motor, and what he lacks in finesse, he more than makes up for with aggressive drives to the hoop and his ability to make a living at the charity stripe.

C Luke Kornet (Vanderbilt, senior)

Measuring in at a healthy 7’1″, 240, Kornet could turn into a nice stretch five if he continues to work on his shot. He is a rim protector first, but he offers some real floor-spreading potential. Most importantly in making a good first impression in San Antonio, he earned a place on the All-Defensive team in his final year of SEC play. A solid 85.7% from the stripe furnishes his paint presence with an extra hint of credibility. Expect the Spurs to like his defensive presence but miss Dedmon’s athleticism when running drills with him.

G Jabari Bird (Cal, senior)

Bird was almost a 40% 3-point shooter last year, and his jump shot is a thing of elevational beauty. He plays with his heart on his sleeve, and if he bulks up a little, his stock will only continue to rise. The Spurs could use a good kick-in-the-pants guy coming off the bench next season, especially if Jonathan Simmons and/or Patty Mills leaves. Some things to watch out for: he went down in March with a gash-inducing concussion and wasn’t cleared to play in the NIT tournament, where Cal lost in the first round without their spark plug. Also, he owned Pac-12’s 4th-highest turnover rate last year. But he did shoot 54% eFG last year, and 44% from the field. But only one stat here is certain: he plays like there’s blood in the water, 100% of the time.

F Ivan Rabb (Cal, sophomore)

The only underclassmen on a list of seniors, Rabb has the benefit of time on his side. The importance of developing at the college level cannot be understated, but there is also such a thing as waiting too long for the draft. He’s 6’6″ with a 7’1″ wingspan, and after deciding to spend a second year in college, he came away with 14 points and 10.5 rebounds per game. Not bad for a youngster, and the Spurs need all the rebounding they can get these days.

F Moses Kingsley (Arkansas, senior)

History has proven that sometimes 22 is simply too old to get yourself acclimated to the NBA coming out of college. Those are precious early years, and the right locker room can be the difference between success and draft bust. From Nigeria by way of Canada, Kingsley was a basketball late bloomer a la Dedmon. His delayed development might actually come with an extra ounce of maturity which the Spurs covet. He is a physical force who shows exciting defensive upside, especially close to the net. He is extremely explosive, and at his best when he’s swatting layups emphatically into the stands. Somewhere along the way, Kingsley developed into a solid 44% 3-point shooter, too.

A lot of mock drafts have guys like Jordan Bell or Isaiah Hartenstein going to San Antonio with that 29th pick. Some think the Spurs are due to draft another international player in the first round after a couple domestic pickups. That would be classic Spurs.

It would also be classic Spurs to draft someone not listed in the article above, nor in any other forum on Earth. Somebody no one has ever heard of, maybe a kid they noticed playing pick-up ball in the Virgin Islands. That would also be classic Spurs.

But the common thread between these prospects is their transition game, and if you think that has nothing to do with the way the Western Conference Finals played out this year, you’re selling Gregg Popovich short.

It wouldn’t be the first time he has re-tooled on the fly after a playoff exit.

Justin Heller
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Justin Heller

NBA Spurs Lead Writer at The Runner Sports
NBA guy. Manu apologist. Tim Duncan clergyman. Van Exel admirer. Embiid fan club. Players Tribune articles can never be bad. The three most important letters in the NBA are g-i-f.
Grew up all over, ended up in San Antonio, where I live currently. Come enjoy the churros with me, Chuck.
Justin Heller
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