The San Antonio Spurs enter the offseason following a 34-48 regular season finish. Now, they have the best No. 9 odds for the first overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft as they look to add more talent to build on.
With Dejounte Murray at running back, Keldon Johnson at four and an array of intriguing recently drafted wings to develop, the Spurs have a solid foundation in place. Could a more dynamic hub option be the next logical step?
Jakob Poeltl is as solid a role player as he gets. He is coming off a season averaging 13.5 points, 9.3 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.7 blocks in what was by far the best season of his NBA career.
Poeltl provides an efficient inside finishing option for any midfield attack and is a technical defender. He doesn’t possess elite physical tools, but he’s a consistent option in nearly every traditional facet of the center position.
There are limitations to what Poeltl provides to Spurs. For starters, he has one of the most paint-dependent skill sets in the NBA, which limits the kind of space a half-court offense can have. He attempted just nine half-court jump shots in 68 games, which means he took one every 7.5 games.
It becomes a natural limit on what a team can accomplish as an offense when they’re a poor 3-point shooting team, have five with no gaps and aren’t in the top 10 in any kind of legitimate offensive game. a team.
Deandre Ayton isn’t a dominant force like Nikola Jokic or Joel Embiid, but he is one of the NBA’s most efficient finishers around the rim and has a very effective mid-range jumper. Not to mention that he has a finesse in posting that he could use more often as a featured option.
The presence provided by Ayton’s shot-blocking ability has been key in making the Suns one of the best defensive teams in the NBA. While Poeltl is a useful defender, Ayton would bring elements not currently present in the Spurs defence.
Ayton would provide a useful boost to Spurs in many key areas. If it is truly achievable, it would be to San Antonio’s advantage to push to acquire it, especially as a small-market franchise.
How attainable is Deandre Ayton?
The Suns have built something special. The foundation was laid with the development of Devin Booker through losing seasons and then Deandre Ayton and Mikal Bridges were added via the NBA Draft. Since Paul is already 37 years old, his window is now.
While it may seem extreme to add that much weight to a game, Sunday’s Game 7 between the Suns and Dallas Mavericks could determine a lot about Ayton’s future in Phoenix.
If the Suns win Game 7 and return to a second straight Western Conference finals, why not pay to keep the team intact while Chris Paul is still playing? If they lose, there could be genuine questions about how much Ayton’s impact is worth paying for before free agency.
The Mavericks have done a lot of damage by playing small and shooting a high volume of 3s to maximize space around Luka Doncic and Jalen Brunson. They have used a central rotation of Dwight Powell, Maxi Kleber and sometimes Dorian Finney-Smith when they get small.
When the Mavericks shoot at speed from deep, there is no time to throw the ball to Ayton. That’s the case even though he has a size advantage against any potential matchup he faces. Could this raise questions about his value before free agency? Of course, that’s up to the Suns organization to decide.
What would a firm and a business look like?
In the event that the Suns were willing to part ways with Ayton in a sign-and-trade instead of simply matching a maximum contract offer sheet signing with a different team, the Spurs could put together an intriguing potential trade package.
Before I get too into the details of potential trade details, the Spurs would have to be the team Ayton chooses to sign with in free agency. There will be other interested suitors for him to choose from, so it’s hard to necessarily predict the outcome.
Among the most common linked teams are the Detroit Pistons, who have significant cap space and need five talents. Another rebuilding team like the Oklahoma City Thunder or the Indiana Pacers could also hypothetically get into the mix. Perhaps even a playoff contender like the Toronto Raptors with a need in all five could be another.
Let’s say Ayton would pick the Spurs, NBA Analysis Network recently put together a hypothetical trade package for this very scenario. The Spurs would land Ayton and Dario Saric and send Jakob Poeltl, Josh Richardon, Doug McDermott and a 2022 first-round pick (via the Boston Celtics).
The specifics of a trade in terms of draft picks can be debated in almost any what-if scenario. What matters most is the wages involved. Ayton would be signing for a deal so big the Suns aren’t willing to match him to keep him.
The Spurs would send Poeltl as a central replacement for the Suns and add additional value with perimeter depth in the form of Richardson and McDermott. Phoenix could get aggressive in remodeling its roster after such a deal.