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What we learned from the Spurs’ 2022 draft day decisions

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The Spurs had a busy draft night, using all three of their first-round picks and trading their second-round pick for a future one. They will feature three rookies in 2022/23, joining a very young group already in place.

Free agency is just a few days away, and a lot could change once it arrives, but now that it’s been a few days since the draft, it’s time to see where the roster stands and what the draft taught us about the direction players look like. Spurs. be following

The Spurs seem to be moving away from the draft-and-stash route.

Before we talk about the players Spurs actually drafted and how they fit in, it might be interesting to see what they didn’t do: hide a prospect in Europe. Despite having four top-40 picks, San Antonio selected three prospects to join immediately and traded the remaining pick.

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It shouldn’t be too surprising, since the Spurs haven’t gone the draft-and-stash route since 2015, and Brian Wright has never drafted an international prospect since becoming GM, but San Antonio’s history and the amount of selections they had available makes it remarkable.

The Spurs are understandably turning away from a strategy that helped them in the past now that every team is looking for a lot of international talent, negating the advantage San Antonio used to have. The team’s recent lack of success with first-round draft picks and stash probably didn’t help either. Livio Jean-Charles was a disappointment, partly due to injuries, while Nikola Milutinov became a very productive player but never made the jump to the NBA. Luka Samanic joined the team immediately, but like the other recent European first-round picks, it didn’t work out in San Antonio. In contrast, most recent college basketball picks have done well, so it wouldn’t be unfair to say that Silver and Black are currently better at finding talent in the NCAA than in Europe and prefer to go with domestic prospects.

Of course, it’s also possible that the Spurs simply didn’t like any of the international prospects who were available as draft and stash options in the two drafts Wright has commanded, especially in the first round. Gabriele Procida, for whom they had shown some interest, was gone when he was drafted in the second round in 2022, and there were only five international prospects selected after Joe Wieskamp in 2021. But it might be time to put the Spurs meme to rest. always salivating at dark European prospects, because it currently does not correspond to reality.

The draft made the separation of Lonnie Walker IV more likely

The Spurs took two shooting guards in the bottom third of the first round who have a few things in common. Both are extremely young at just 19 years old, both are about the same size with Blake Wesley at 6’4 and Malaki Branham at 6’5”, and both should be good with the ball in their hands.

It doesn’t take much imagination to figure out who those two teams make expendable, at least when you think about the future. Lonnie Walker IV is about to become a free agent, and there may not be a place for him in San Antonio if the idea is for rookies and Josh Primo to get minutes and eventually become rotation players.

Assuming the front office guarantees Tre Jones’ very affordable contract, the Spurs will have eight players who are 6’5” or shorter on their roster, not counting Walker. Not everyone will get playing time in the backcourt, especially if Dejounte Murray will likely get at least 30 minutes at point guard. Some of those players have the length to easily move up to small forward, but with Jeremy Sochan likely playing power forward and Doug McDermott and Keldon Johnson still around, there shouldn’t be many minutes at the small forward spots available either. It’s possible the Spurs will move someone or just let both rookie guards develop in Austin to clear the logjam, but even then, it might not be smart to make a long-term commitment to Walker with three similar but younger and cheaper players. on the list. .

The Spurs may agree, but they don’t want to let Walker go and give him nothing in return. In that case, they could sign Walker with the intention of trading him later, as the Nuggets did with Nene years ago, but doing so could create an awkward situation in which both player and team must stay together for three months, which as soon as possible. he would be allowed to trade Walker after re-signing him, despite clearly knowing there is no future there. A sign-and-trade might be a better option if the Spurs are ready to move on but want something in return, as it would allow both sides to move on before the season.

What happens to Walker could be down to how real management believes his stellar streak after the trade deadline really was. If they think he can hit those levels consistently, it would be completely justifiable to give him minutes at the expense of the younger guards he recently drafted. If they don’t, it would be better to focus on developing Lonnie’s potential replacements sooner rather than later.

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