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Around the Association: 2010 NBA Draft Previews - San Antonio Spurs: Drafting guys into the Popovich system

Cranking away here. 13 days until the NBA Draft, and this is my 13th team-by-team preview! That means I'm still a few short, but catching up slowly. Let's take a look at the San Antonio Spurs, a franchise I fondly admire.

I admit, back when the Spurs won their first championship in the asterisk (read: Lockout-shortened) year against the New York Knicks, I couldn't stomach this team, with its non-athletic ways. This was further reinforced in their 2nd championship dominance against the New Jersey Nets, when Tim Duncan became the Spurs' entire (plodding) offense.

By the 3rd championship, I was full-on into running basketball leagues here in the Bay and coaching/GM'ing traveling tournament teams consisting of all-stars from my leagues. That's when I realized how important it was to have role players and some type of system and pecking order. I started modeling my teams after the San Antonio Spurs.

It's interesting that in the last ten years, out of a total of 27 Draft-day acquisitions, either through a direct pick or via trade, fifteen of them have been international players. At one point from 2004-07, it had been seven out of eight.

I'm sure you've realized what kind of nice picks the Spurs have made in the past, but to what degree of sick-ness did you know these picks to be?

Aside from the obvious -- Hill, Blair, Parker, Ginobili immediately come to mind for most NBA fans of today -- here's a random sampling of some of the (mostly international) players they have drafted with their relatively low picks...

  • Goran Dragic
  • Beno Udrih
  • Luis Scola
  • Leandro Barbosa
  • John Salmons

Granted, perhaps some of these picks were really picks by other teams that they made prior to trading them, but the track record is there. I mean, if you put these past draft picks on the same team, you'd have a pretty damn good NBA team. Sick!

Let's see who they have coming back for 2010-11...

pg Tony Parker
George Hill
sg Manu Ginobili
Roger Mason Jr.
Keith Bogans
sf Richard Jefferson
Malik Hairston
Alonzo Gee
pf Antonio McDyess
DeJuan Blair
Matt Bonner
c Tim Duncan
Ian Mahinmi

I've put Duncan at center since it's clear that he'd be on the floor alongside either McDyess or Blair most of the time, in a non-go-small lineup.

Although history shows they will draft the best international player available, if the Spurs decided to draft for need, they could possibly look at the shooting guard or small forward positions. Here's what the mocks think...

No. 20 pick

  • Larry Sanders (pf/c, 6'10", 222, VCU, junior). I'm not sure about this prediction. They do not have as glaring a need in the frontline as they do at sg/sf and, well, Sanders is not an international player! Granted, has one of my favorite 2-guards, James Anderson of Oklahoma State, going right before Sanders. Out of the remaining first-rounders on their draft board, I don't like Terrico White (the next pick at #21), and the rest don't seem to be a good fit with the Spurs' IQ/system, particularly Eric Bledsoe. However, Kevin Seraphin of France (international!) is at #26 and Damion James of Texas, a very athletic small forward, is available at #28.
  • DraftExpress: Luke Babbitt (sf, 6'7", 215, Nevada, sophomore). This would be an absolute steal at #20, but I seriously doubt Babbitt, whom I've coined a Baby Dirk Nowitzki one many an occasion on the last 13 team-by-team Draft previews, will drop that far. Babbitt has the right NBA people/trainers surrounding him and it's clear to me that there's no way he's not a Lottery pick (top 14). DraftExpress has the aforementioned Anderson, who's got some serious hang time for a shooting guard, available at #23. There's also Dominique Jones at #27 and Willie Warren at #28, who are in the 2nd round on With Jones you get a wide-body 6'4" guard with the physique of Jason Richardson and the opposite game, at least now that J-Rich is more of 3-point gunner. Jones is an excellent penetrator who uses his NBA body to get where he needs to go. Warren is a versatile, highly skilled dribbler/creator/shooter. He's a bit smallish than Hill, but I like his playmaking ability, potential alpha-dogginess, and physique more than Hill. So Warren's a combo guard, but really more of a 2. I would pick any of these guys assuming Babbitt is not there at #20.
  • Chad Ford: Damion James (sf, 6'8", 227, Texas, senior). A nice pick here by Ford, IMHO. James is very athletic and has filled out nicely. He's very active. It's interesting that Ford has Kentucky big Daniel Orton listed at #21, whereas on and DraftExpress, Orton is already gone by the 21st pick. If Orton is available in Ford's Draft world, I take the 6'10" 269 Orton by a country mile over James. Of course, I'm a bit biased, having seen Orton workout over the past two summers by former Spurs head coach and San Antonio native, Bob Hill. I just think if it were up to the Spurs to choose between James and Orton, they (easily) pick Orton. There's also another big in Craig Brackins at #26. He's a 22-year-old junior with good character, traits that fit the Spurs' system. But as I said before, I don't think the Spurs need a big as much as they need a 2 or a 3.

No. 49 pick

The Spurs are perhaps the only team where it'd be a good bet they could pull a rabbit out of the hat this late in the Draft. In the past, they'd be international names you've never heard of. Well, we can thank increased scouting staffs and, to a degree, DraftExpress for opening up the bag even more these days for more cats. So don't be surprised if the Spurs start trending downward in the late-late pick department. Here are the mocks' predictions...

  • Art Parakhouski (c, 6'11", 268, Radford, senior). I hope to watch some tape of him soon, but to date, I have not seen him play. It's kind of ironic that he's picked here per when DraftExpress is the board with the international penchant, but then again he's picked right before at #48 on the DraftExpress board. Being a foreign-born player and playing for a mid-major like Radford seems right up the Spurs' alley.
  • DraftExpress: Charles Garcia (pf/c, 6'10", 230, Seattle, junior). Love this pick, and I've mentioned that now in three consecutive team-by-team Draft profiles. Once again, let me say that he reminds me of Thaddeus Young, having length and making NBA face-up moves that leave you doing a second take.

I think this is the first time in 13 teams that I've actually agreed with both and DraftExpress's 2nd-round prediction!

Of course, trades and anything else can happen. It's not like any of us are General Manager mind-readers. I'm sure we'll all be wrong with our predictions and scoffing or applauding at such predictions, come June 24th.

But one thing's for sure, you better keep an eye on whomever it is that San Antonio picks! You probably won't have heard of him much, but he very well could be a solid starter or rotation NBA player in a few years.

NEXT: Miami Heat and/or update on the Boston Celtics' 19th pick, which I forgot to preview!

POR - Odin a bigger impact than Oden? (22nd, 44th picks)
NYK - What if they don't get any marquee free agents? (38th, 39th picks)
OKC - Drafting bigs? (21st, 26th, 32nd, 51st picks)
LAL - D-Fish most talked about this summer? (43rd, 58th picks)
BOS - Oh Danny boy! (19th, 52nd picks)
PHX - Shoring up behind Amare? (46th, 60th picks)
ATL - Calling all shooting guards not named Joe (24th, 53rd picks)
ORL - Improving while Dwight improves (29th, 59th picks)
DAL - Depends on Dirk and Dampier dollars (50th, 57th picks)
CHA - S-Jax stuck (no draft picks)
DEN - Just need Coach Karl back? (no draft picks)
CLE - If you leave (no draft picks)

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