NBA

Peeking at potential projects through Spurs-themed glasses: The Frontcourt

ADVERTISEMENT

In a few days, we will (im)patiently wait to find out who will become the next San Antonio Spur. Before I got to that, I felt compelled to add to the many pieces that have been put on the internet by breaking down the leads whose names could potentially be called.

My inspiration for this was reading some of the comparisons that have been made – notably, seeing how Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer compared Jabari Smith Jr. to “Two-Way Rashard Lewis” and Chet Holmgren to “Gen Z Pau Gasol” . These compositions put visions in our heads about what we can expect from said player, which is both fair and unfair. It’s just, because most of us (undrafted experts) haven’t seen a ton of movies about these players, so comparing them to someone we’ve seen helps us understand their game better. This is unfair, because when we hear that Player X is like Player Y, it sets expectations that the player must then meet or hopefully exceed.

ADVERTISEMENT

All that to say, I took the time to watch a movie about 22 players the Spurs might consider drafting with each of their three picks, and instead of comparing them to anyone they remind me of, I compared to a former Spur based on size/position/athleticism and style of play.

I have chosen to avoid writing about Paolo Banchero, Jaden Ivey and the aforementioned Smiths and Holmgrens as they are likely to be in the top 4 (Ivey being the only one to potentially slip) and it is highly unlikely that these teams exchange them. choice (Kings being possible, but I don’t see Spurs jumping to 4). I also did my best to avoid comparing anyone to the Big Three, but watched a player’s tape that made me break that rule.

Over the next three days, I’ll be posting a new batch of leads, so keep an eye out for each one. And without further ado, here’s the initial outlook, but first, keep in mind:

Disclaimer #1: These are not perfect. The game has changed so much over the years, which will be evident in the videos I add for the Spurs player I’m comparing the perspective to, so a bit of imagination will be required.

Disclaimer #2: Some footage was harder to find than others when it came to the Spur I was comparing perspective to, so I included what I thought was the best.

Modern ovens

To start, let’s focus on three players who would help fill out the frontcourt and add some much-needed depth to the 4 (and potentially small-ball 5).

Keegan Murray

Comparison: Sean Elliott

Over the course of the year, I watched a good chunk of college basketball, knowing the Spurs would likely end up with a lottery pick. Iowa happened to be on TV a bit, which meant I got to see what Keegan Murray had to offer. Everywhere you look, you’ll see the book on him is relatively the same: he can score the ball. He led the Big-10 conference in points per game at 23.5 while shooting 39.8 percent on his three-point attempts. He might not create as much dribbling as Smith and Banchero, but Iowa was able to move him to different positions to open him up. Looking at his combination of size, speed and skill, he looks like Sean Elliott would do in today’s NBA. For Murray, there are questions about his ability to create his shot, as mentioned earlier, but we’ve seen what Sean has been able to do playing with others for years.

Jeremy Sochan

Comparison: Boris Diaw

Possibly my favorite comparison, and player, of anyone the Spurs could potentially draft. Jeremy Sochan is a swiss army knife power forward who should be able to play sprints as a small 5 ball. He has good mobility which keeps him with guards and wings and is tall enough to smash with almost anyone. everyone in the league (with maybe the exception of Nikola Jokic and Joel Embiid, but everyone is). Bobo’s playmaking ability is what made him so important during his tenure with Spurs, and Sochan has the same skill. The only knock on Sochan right now is his shooting, but if you believe in the 90/10 rule, where if you get 90% good from a player, you’ll take the 10% bad. Plus, when you look at his touch around the basket and see what Keldon Johnson has been able to do in a few years, you can’t help but believe that his perimeter shot will happen again if he becomes a Spur.

EJ Liddell

Comparison: DeJuan Blair (with sweater)

Liddell gets that comparison with one of my all-time favorite RPG Spurs, DeJuan Blair, mainly because of their size at the position they play. At the combine, Liddell was 6’7″ in shoes and weighed 243 pounds, while Blair was 6’6.5″ and weighed 276. That makes Liddell more of a 4 than Blair ever was. , but Blair was no slouch as an athlete. Shooting is also what makes Liddell more versatile than Blair, having shot 37.4 percent on three on 3.8 attempts per game in his senior year at Ohio State. His per game ranking in the Big 10 was fourth in points at 19.4, seventh in rebounds at 7.9 and first in blocks at 2.6. One of the main reasons Spurs might be able to sign Liddell with their later picks is that he turns 22 in December. His size and skill, however, would make him a fine addition to a position of need for Spurs.

The Great

Considering the quality of Jakob Poeltl this year, it would seem odd for Spurs to come out and retake a cross with one of their best picks, especially with the ninth pick. However, Poeltl is set to get paid in the near future which is why there are rumors about the potential deals. All of this makes drafting one of the following prospects something Spurs could seriously consider.

Mark Williams

Comparison: Artis Gilmore

One of the few players whose stock grew exponentially due to their play over the season, Mark Williams has something of a throwback to his game. He was 7’2″ tall at the combine with a standing reach of 9’9″, not to mention his wingspan of 7’6.5″ – all of which were the tallest/longest of any that measured. Williams’ game is in the paint, where he finishes the lobs with authority and smashes shots with reckless abandon.Spurs, too, once had a long center controlling inside with the best of them.Williams may not have the sweet afro that Gilmore had , but he has the game that could remedy Spurs’ lack of depth in the frontcourt.

Jalen Duren

Comparison: David Robinson

I know Big Dave is in the pantheon of every NBA player, but when you see Duren on the court, you get a glimpse of what kind of athlete he is. His year at Memphis didn’t quite go to plan, but it happens to raw prospects more often than most would like. And yes, Duren is a bit raw for a potential lottery pick, but he has tools you can’t teach. The way he can steer the terrain at his size, his jumping ability, and his strength all lend their hand to what the Admiral could do in the field. Duren won’t be a terrific shooter, but he’s not afraid to take them down once in a while. And to be fair, Robinson wasn’t the greatest shooter – in fact, for the years they have data available that started in the 96-97 season, he was 39.2% (682/1739) on jump shots from 10 feet. and outside. The biggest difference between the two is that Duren will make his NBA debut 5 years younger than Robinson, so there will be plenty of room to grow.

Walker Kesler

Comparison: Defensive LaMarcus Aldridge

The second-best shot blocker in the NCAA this year, Kessler was the anchor of a defense that was in KenPom’s top 10 in adjusted defensive efficiency. Twice this season, he has scored a triple-double with blocks. It just shows you the inner strength that Kessler was this year. Offensively, it’s hard for any great player to match LaMarcus Aldridge’s skill set, so I’m not here to say Kessler is that, but he’s capable of knocking down a few shots once in a while. This comparison is more about how when I watched the movie I saw the same body type and movement that Aldridge showed in silver and black.

ADVERTISEMENT