San Antonio Spurs: 2017 NBA Draft grades

Jun 22, 2017; Brooklyn, NY, USA; A general view of a video board displaying all thirty first round selections in the 2017 NBA Draft at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

With the 2017 NBA Draft now over, how did the San Antonio Spurs fare with each of their selections?

The San Antonio Spurs didn’t finish the 2016-17 season the way they had hoped, but there was silver lining: They’re on the right track.

Having led the Golden State Warriors by more than 20 points in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals before Kawhi Leonard went down, Gregg Popovich knows his team is still doing things right.

Therefore, they kept things status quo on draft night by selecting two solid players who fit their system.

Patty Mills, Manu Ginobili and Jonathon Simmons are all free agents this summer, meaning the team needed to be ready to replenish its bench on the perimeter, which it did on draft night.

Should the Spurs be forced to move on from all three of their free agents, these rookies might have to make an impact of some kind early on. Here is a more in-depth look at the draftees, and what they could bring to the Spurs in their first seasons.

Dec 7, 2016; Boulder, CO, USA; Colorado Buffaloes guard Derrick White (21) during the first half against the Xavier Musketeers at the Coors Events Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

No. 29 — Derrick White, G, Colorado

Once again, the San Antonio Spurs come up with an excellent value pick late in the first round of the draft.

Derrick White is a 6’4.5″ guard with good skills and a great feel for the game. He’s not the best athlete or ball handler, but his size and craftiness allow him to get to the rim and finish.

He improved as a shooter through college, reaching the 40 percent mark in his lone season at Colorado. He can also operate out of the pick-and-roll as the ball-handler thanks to his size.

White was a transfer and played his lone season of Division I basketball at Colorado, averaging 18.3 points, 4.3 assists, 4.1 rebounds, 1.4 blocks and 1.2 steals per game after spending two seasons at the Division II Colorado-Colorado Springs. After receiving no Division I scholarship offers as a 6’0″ point guard, his post-grad growth spurt propelled his stellar play in college. 

White was one of those players you knew going into the draft he could be a Spur. His basketball IQ, craftiness and desire to succeed are a lot of the qualities the organization has found success with.

As you can see from their tweets, popular basketball writers from different paths all felt the same, from San Antonio Spurs super fan, The Ringer‘s Shea Serrano, to Sam Vecenie, who covers all things basketball for Sporting News and Vice.

Depending on what happens with their free agents, White could play a key role for the Spurs right away. Should the Spurs keep their team mostly together, look for White to go the Kyle Anderson route by making good plays in spot minutes thanks to IQ, while slowly developing his skills. 

Grade: A

Feb 25, 2017; Clemson, SC, USA; Clemson Tigers forward Jaron Blossomgame (5) looks to pass the ball during the second half against the Florida State Seminoles at Littlejohn Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

No. 59 — Jaron Blossomgame, F, Clemson

Jaron Blossomgame was an interesting prospect going into the draft. He has the prototypical size and athleticism you want in a wing/forward for today’s game (6’7″, 220 pounds, 41″ vertical) and has shown the versatility to guard multiple positions.

While he had a productive senior year at Clemson, averaging 17.7 points and 6.1 rebounds per game, he does not have one skill right now considered “NBA-ready.”

At 24 years old, Blossomgame is one of the oldest players to be drafted this year — not a quality GMs are in love with these days. He also shot a career 29.6 percent from three in his four years of college. Although he projects as a good defender, his fundamentals and motor will need some work to be effective in the Spurs’ system.

That sounds like a lot of negatives, which is common for a 59th pick in the draft. But Blossomgame has a lot of nice things about his game as well, otherwise the Spurs wouldn’t have picked him!

Jaron has the ability to put himself in position offensively to score when he doesn’t have the ball. He is a good cutter and finishes well at the rim, finishing on 62.7 percent of his attempts at the rim, according to Synergy. So despite not being a great shooter or shot creator, he should be able to score with a low usage-rate in the Spurs’ offense.

His 1.8 offensive rebounds per game are also a good sign for him, as every extra possession is vital to a team in the postseason. His willingness to mix it up in the paint will make him a favorite with the organization and fans (think, Malik Rose?). He does also have the potential to make threes. His junior year he made 1.5 of his 3.3 attempts per game, and as long as he’s taking open shots within an offense, his percentages can continue to be way up.

Defensively is where Blossomgame will make his mark for the Spurs, and that’s just how they like it. With his willingness to play D and his versatility, he can immediately come in and guard bigger guards/small forwards/smaller power forwards. But as he gets stronger, smarter and more disciplinedm he should be able to stretch that range to guarding 1-4. In today’s NBA, having a guy that can do that is so important.

Grade: B+

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