Potential draft targets that could be available to the Spurs with the 19th pick

Examining the pros and cons of each non-guard draftee that could be available to the Spurs at 19.

This is the third of a four part series covering the San Antonio Spurs’ draft options. Part one discussed the Spurs’ assets that could be packaged together in an attempt to move up in the draft and which teams might be willing to move down. Part two highlighted those players who won’t likely be available to the Spurs at 19 whom the Spurs could be targeting in the draft. This article highlights players who should be available to the Spurs at 19 should they stand pat on draft night. Part four will highlight players who should be available to the Spurs at 29 should they stand pat on draft night. I apologize in advance as these articles are a bit lengthy.

The table below lists all players whose Average Mock Draft Position (AMDP) ended up being in the 18-27 range, as those players all have a good chance at being available when the Spurs are on the clock with their 19th overall pick. The group of players from the previous article were nice to discuss, but here is where things get truly interesting. There’s a great chance the Spurs stand pat on draft day, so the players discussed in the next two articles are far more likely to end up in silver and black.

Again, I am not including point or combo guards as I believe the Spurs should be targeting a swingman or combo forward in the draft.

Bol Bol – Freshman – Oregon

Position: C; Age: 20; AMDP: 17.67

Height: 7’ 2”; Wingspan: 7’ 7”; Weight: 208 pounds

Points: 21 on 56.1/52/75.7 percent shooting (in only 9 games)

Rebounds: 9.6; Assists: 1.0; Blocks: 2.8; Steals: 0.8; Turnovers: 1.7

Known draft interest: None

White-Walker76’s draft profile: None

Pros of drafting:

  • His 9’ 7” standing reach is identical to that of Boban Marjanovic and Rudy Gobert, making him a force to be reckoned with inside the painted area. Unlike those two, Bol can put the ball on the floor and has a smooth and reliable outside shot. He’s not Kevin Durant with the ball, but Kristaps Porzingis is a good comparison in that regard. A true unicorn of basketball.
  • The Spurs were in the bottom third in the NBA in blocks last season and Bol truly excels as a shot blocker. His great timing allows him to generate a high number of blocks without fouling. He averaged only 1.7 personal fouls in 30 minutes a game.

Cons of drafting:

  • He suffered a season-ending foot injury nine games into his freshman campaign at Oregon. There’s nothing that scares me more than bigs with foot injuries.
  • Bol came in at 208 pounds at the combine, down from his previous listings inside the 230-240 range. He can certainly add that weight back, but he will not survive the NBA at 208 pounds.
  • He’s a good rim protector but has really poor lateral movement, making his chances of finding success guarding players on the perimeter slim to none.
  • His motor has come into question, which if true, is an automatic pass by the Spurs come draft time.

Those making mock drafts have had trouble deciding exactly where he will be drafted, but I think his unique skill set will be too much for teams in the late lottery to pass on. If he is still available at 19 I’ll be on the edge of my seat seeing what the Spurs choose to do. He’s a true high risk/high reward pick, possibly the highest in the draft.

Kevin Porter Jr. – Freshman – USC

Position: SG/SF; Age: 19; AMDP: 18.56

Height: 6’ 5.5”; Wingspan: 6’ 9”; Weight: 213 pounds

Points: 9.5 on 47.1/41.2/52.2 percent shooting

Rebounds: 4.0; Assists: 1.4; Blocks: 0.5; Steals: 0.8; Turnovers: 1.9

Known draft interest: Had a workout with the Spurs.

White-Walker76’s draft profile: None

Pros of drafting:

  • He was paired with Dejounte Murray for one season in high school. Maybe Murray told PATFO had some nice things to say? Other that that I’m not sure why the Spurs worked him out other than doing their due diligence.
  • He is a lottery talent who is only projected in the Spurs’ range due to some conduct issues. He has extreme athletic ability and can handle the ball and score from all areas of the court.

Cons of drafting:

  • He was suspended during the middle of his freshman campaign for what USC referred to as “personal conduct issues.” Sounds like a Spurs player, right? Not so much.
  • He was used as a guard at USC and would be undersized at the wing position. The Spurs have enough 6’ 5” guards on the roster.
  • He shot 41 percent from deep but only 52 percent from the free throw line. That’s too strange for me to decipher.
  • His NBA comparison is Lonnie Walker IV so there’s likely some redundancy in skill set.

I only included his profile since the Spurs took the time to work him out. I obviously don’t have all the details of what led to his suspension, but there’s some bright yellow flags that I wouldn’t be able to ignore if I were the Spurs. Plus, I don’t see his skill set or likely position to be a great need for the Spurs. I’ll pass.

Mfiondu Kabengele – Sophomore – Florida State

Position: PF/C; Age: 21; AMDP: 19.86

Height: 6’ 10”; Wingspan: 7’ 3”; Weight: 256 pounds

Points: 13.2 on 50.2/36.9/76.1 percent shooting

Rebounds: 5.9; Assists: 0.3; Blocks: 1.5; Steals: 0.8; Turnovers: 1.9

Known draft interest: None

White-Walker76’s draft profile: here

Pros of drafting:

  • He’s Dikemebe Mutumbo’s nephew.
  • He looks to be a true floor-spacing big with strong rim protection. These are two areas that the Spurs need to fill.
  • He could play alongside the bigs already on the Spurs’ roster. I don’t want the Spurs to draft players who could get blocked long term by other players already on the roster.

Cons of drafting:

  • It wasn’t that long ago he was considered a second round draft pick or undrafted altogether. He has been rising up draft boards so fast that I don’t even think he will be available at 29th at this point. Depending on how the cards fall, there are other players whom I’d prefer at 19th.
  • His 1-to-4 assist-to-turnover ratio is a bit alarming. He doesn’t have to be Nikola Jokic or anything, but it does call into question his decision making skills.
  • It would take his entire rookie contract before I would be able to say his name properly.

His mock projections had the second highest standard deviation out of all the players I’m covering in this article, meaning analysts are having a difficult time pinpointing exactly how high his ascension will land him on other team’s boards. I’d give him a long look at 29th if he’s available and the Spurs drafted a wing at 19th. At 19th I’m not as sold, which is where a few mocks have him landing. Though to be fair, I had never heard of him before White-Walker76 did his draft profile on him back in April.

Keldon Johnson – Freshman – Kentucky

Position: SG/SF; Age: 19; AMDP: 22.67

Height: 6’ 6”; Wingspan: 6’ 9”; Weight: 211 pounds

Points: 13.5 on 46.1/38.1/70.3 percent shooting

Rebounds: 5.9; Assists: 1.6; Blocks: 0.2; Steals: 0.8; Turnovers: 1.6

Known draft interest: None

White-Walker76’s draft profile: here

Pros of drafting:

  • With Manu Ginobili enjoying retirement, the Spurs need somebody else capable of mastering the eurostep. Johnson has displayed a nasty one at times.
  • The Spurs are not a great rebounding team (some of that by design), but Johnson likes to mix it up in the paint similar to Murray.
  • He projects as a nice 3 and D player, similar to the type of player the Spurs need if he can add enough size to play the 3. His jumper is smooth, but he has a far more versatile offensive game than simply standing in the corner and knocking down shots. He can do that too, which will be important while he grows into a more prominent role.

Cons of drafting:

  • He’s more of a combo guard than a true swingman at this stage of his career. The Spurs have enough guards on their roster, so his ability to play SF drastically changes how I view him as a prospect.
  • Not to be that guy, but TMZ did catch him driving around L.A. in a $300,000 car. White-Walker76 also mentioned that he was seen flirting with a female celebrity in the middle of a game. Nothing wrong with having fun, but I wonder how much events such as these are taken into consideration when deciding who to draft.
  • Right now he projects to be a guard instead of a forward. I included him in this article because if he adds 10-15 pounds he could become a swingman.

I’m on the fence with Johnson. He’s young and has tremendous upside, but there are a lot of players similar to Johnson in this draft. The more I’ve been looking into these players the more I feel PATFO would be best off standing pat and relying on their developmental system to groom whomever they draft. I really can’t find major differences with these players, which I’m realizing is why the draft is considered to be relatively flat after the first couple picks.

Matisse Thybulle – Senior – Washington

Position: SG/SF; Age: 22; AMDP: 23.44

Height: 6’ 5”; Wingspan: 7’ 0”; Weight: 190 pounds

Points: 13.5 on 46.1/30.5/85.1 percent shooting

Rebounds: 3.1; Assists: 2.1; Blocks: 2.3; Steals: 3.5; Turnovers: 1.8

Known draft interest: None

White-Walker76’s draft profile: here

Pros of drafting:

  • A teammate of Murray for a year at Washington, if the Spurs draft Thybulle you can bet Murray played some role in that decision.
  • A defensive beast on the perimeter. He uses his massive wingspan, quick lateral movement, and disruptive hands to wreak havoc on opposing guards. He averaged 3.5 steals and 2.3 blocks last season. His low rebound rate is strange, but could have something to do with the zone defense deployed by Washington. The Spurs need defensive help on the wing.
  • While his offensive game is quite limited, he was a 36 percent shooter from deep and a 78 percent shooter from the free throw line in his four years at Washington.

Cons of drafting:

  • His three point shooting has regressed from 40 percent in his sophomore season down to 30 percent his senior season. He also hasn’t shown hardly any offensive growth in any other aspects of his game over his college career.
  • Washington plays zone, which has some around NBA circles wondering how much his defense will translate in the NBA. I’m not one of those people, as from what I’ve seen, his defense should translate very well regardless of the scheme.
  • He has a nice wingspan but is still only 6’ 5” and 190 pounds. That’s too thin to play at the SF for long stretches of a game. The Spurs already have three 6’ 5” guards in Dejounte Murray, Derrick White, and Lonnie Walker IV. There’s only so many guard minutes to go around.

I know there are a lot of Pounders who are high on Thybulle due to his defensive prowess and the Spurs’ inability to stop anybody last season. If he were a couple inches taller and 30 pounds heavier I would be all aboard the Thybulle bandwagon. As it stands, I’d wait and see if he drops to 29th before deciding he is worth the gamble. There’s been rumors of him having draft promises from the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Boston Celtics, and he’s been linked to the Philadelphia 76ers more recently. It’s hard to know what to believe, but it’s looking like he’s a long shot to be available to the Spurs at 29.

Cameron Johnson – Senior – North Carolina

Position: SG/SF; Age: 23; AMDP: 24.11

Height: 6’ 8”; Wingspan: 6’ 10”; Weight: 205 pounds

Points: 16.9 on 50.6/45.7/81.8 percent shooting

Rebounds: 5.8; Assists: 2.4; Blocks: 0.3; Steals: 1.2; Turnovers: 1.5

Known draft interest: None

White-Walker76’s draft profile: here

Pros of drafting:

  • He was one of the best shooters in college last season. He’s also great moving without the ball. Would be a great Marco Belinelli replacement in the future.

Cons of drafting:

  • Beyond his shooting, there’s not a whole lot else he brings to a team.
  • He’s already 23 so questions about his upside are valid.
  • He’s not a terrible defender because he has some length, but he’ll never be more than an average defender in the NBA.

If the Spurs are looking for shooting in the draft there’s no doubt they will give Johnson a look at 19th. I still think they go another route at that stage of the draft. If he’s available at 29th he might be worth drafting for his shooting alone.

Nicolas Claxton – Sophomore – Georgia

Position: C; Age: 20; AMDP: 26

Height: 6’ 11”; Wingspan: 7’ 2”; Weight: 217 pounds

Points: 13 on 46/28.1/64.1 percent shooting

Rebounds: 8.6; Assists: 1.8; Blocks: 2.5; Steals: 1.1; Turnovers: 2.1

Known draft interest: Already worked out once for the Spurs with the possibility of a second workout.

White-Walker76’s draft profile: here

Pros of drafting:

  • Another big in this range of the draft with the potential to stretch the floor and rebound the basketball. This is the type of big the Spurs should be in the market for.
  • He brought the ball up the court for Georgia sometimes, showing some semblance of ball-handling skills.
  • He averaged 2.5 blocks and 1.1 steals last season for Georgia. His ability to rebound, block shots, and get steals were on full display in the two games he played at the combine.

Cons of drafting:

  • While in theory he possesses stretch capabilities, he only shot 28 percent from deep last season and 64 percent from the free throw line.
  • He recently shut down workouts with all non-lottery teams because he feels comfortable where he will be drafted based on his pre-draft feedback. This is a con because he’s another player whom I wouldn’t consider until 29th, and he looks like he’ll be taken earlier than that.

I never really watch Georgia play so I had no idea who he was until the combine. He would definitely need some refining in the G-League for a year or two but he does have upside with his potential to be a two-way big who can play both inside and out and handle the ball.

Bruno Fernando – Sophomore – Maryland

Position: C; Age: 20; AMDP: 26.78

Height: 6’ 10”; Wingspan: 7’ 3”; Weight: 237 pounds

Points: 13.6 on 60.7/30/77.9 percent shooting

Rebounds: 10.6; Assists: 2.0; Blocks: 1.9; Steals: 0.6; Turnovers: 2.8

Known draft interest: Had a workout planned with Spurs. Not sure if it has happened yet.

White-Walker76’s draft profile: here

Pros of drafting:

  • He’s very athletic and plays with an extremely high motor, something the Spurs could use more of. He will do the dirty work on the court.

Cons of drafting:

  • He was a turnover machine in college with very little offensive game.
  • He can’t really play alongside Jakob Poeltl or LaMarcus Aldridge without creating major spacing issues and would take a couple years in the G-League before he would be ready to contribute. I’d want more of an upside from the 19th pick. As with most of the players in this range, if Fernando is available at 29th he could be an option.

Five out of the nine mock drafts I looked at had Fernando being drafted 27th or 28th overall. One mock had him at 9th, another in the teens, and one even had him in the mid-second round. The standard deviation of his mock draft predictions were the highest out of all the players I’m profiling in this series. I have no idea where he will land in the draft, but he would not be very high on my draft board. There are a lot of players with a higher floor and upside than Fernando who should be available at 19th.

Luka Samanic – International – Petrol Olimpija

Position: PF; Age: 19; AMDP: 27

Height: 6’ 11”; Wingspan: 6’ 10”; Weight: 227 pounds

Points: 8 on 48.4/33.8/72.2 percent shooting

Rebounds: 4.8; Assists: 0.9; Blocks: 0.5; Steals: 0.4; Turnovers: 1.4

Known draft interest: Buford attending one of his games oversees and he had a workout in San Antonio. There seems to be real interest here and is worth keeping an eye on.

White-Walker76’s draft profile: here

Pros of drafting:

  • The Spurs are clearly high on Samanic so they must see something in him.
  • He dominated in his sole game during the combine. He played so well he decided to shut it down after that game to keep his draft stock as high as possible.
  • Seems to be a high BBIQ player, showing off a nice handle and court vision.
  • He does look like a modern big, as he can shoot, dribble, play inside, and runs the court very well. Adding other threat in transition would help the Spurs get easy buckets.
  • He is quick enough to not be a complete liability guarding players on the perimeter.

Cons of drafting:

  • He has a negative wingspan.
  • He has the makings of a stretch big but it has yet to show up on the court. He shot only 33 percent from deep in international competition last season. His form does look good though.
  • He would need to add strength as I could see him getting bullied by bigs at the NBA level.

I hear a lot of people saying Samanic can help replace Davis Bertans if the Bertans experiment continues to fade. I don’t actually see a lot of similarities in their games though. The first time I heard of him was when a report came out the Buford was oversees watching Samanic play in a game. I’ll just have to trust PATFO on this one. I would prefer that he be drafted at 29 instead of 19, but if he is our guy then why wait?

KZ Okpala – Sophomore – Stanford

Position: SF; Age: 20; AMDP: 27.14

Height: 6’ 9”; Wingspan: 7’ 2”; Weight: 210 pounds

Points: 16.8 on 46.3/36.8/67.1 percent shooting

Rebounds: 5.7; Assists: 2.0; Blocks: 0.5; Steals: 1.0; Turnovers: 2.9

Known draft interest: None

White-Walker76’s draft profile: here

Pros of drafting:

  • He’s another long wing player in what feels like an endless stream of long wing players in this draft. That’s good for the Spurs though as that’s exactly what the doctor ordered.
  • Okpala needs some seasoning, but he’s good at almost every aspect of the game. This should eventually allow him to be a valuable rotational piece.

Cons of drafting:

  • He averaged three turnovers a game as the primary option on offense. He’s a good slasher but oftentimes got overwhelmed in the lead role. I don’t think nearly as much would be asked of him in the NBA, which should help him transition into a more consistent player.
  • Even though I put as a Pro that he is good at almost everything, it’s also a Con that he’s not great at one thing. Most players need that one thing that keeps them on the court so it’ll be interesting to see if his game can progress to the point where he can be relied upon in the NBA.
  • His advanced statistics were one of the worst out of the players I am profiling in this series.

I remember him being much higher on draft boards early in the season, but a lot of that momentum seems to have been lost as time progressed. He’s now firmly in the late first round range with the distinct possibility that he will be available to the Spurs at 29th.

Final thoughts

There are very few on this list who I would love at 19th, but players such as Bol, Porter Jr., both Johnson players, and Thybulle have almost no shot at being available to the Spurs at 29th. If one of them are high on their board, they may have to reach someone at 19th in order to get their guy.

Personally, I’d go wing at 19th and best big available at 29th. With that in mind, here’s my ordering of the players on this list:

  1. Keldon Johnson
  2. Matisse Thybulle
  3. Luka Semanic
  4. Bol Bol
  5. Mfiondu Kabengele
  6. Cameron Johnson
  7. Kevin Porter Jr.
  8. Nicolas Claxton
  9. KZ Okpala
  10. Bruno Fernando

The final part in this series will go over those players who should be available to the Spurs at 29. Of course there’s always surprises during the draft, so there’s a good chance that one of the players already mentioned in previous articles will still be available. My breakdown of the players was mostly arbitrary to keep from overwhelming people with a 10000 word article.

Potential draft targets that could be available to the Spurs with the 19th pick
Source: Pounding The Rock

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