The NBA draft lottery is an unfamiliar place for the San Antonio Spurs, but that’s where they’ve found themselves this season. After reaching the playoffs for 22 straight seasons, the Spurs find themselves looking for a third straight year. After a 34-48 record, the Spurs entered the lottery with the ninth best odds.
The Spurs have clearly targeted tall, athletic wings in recent years. Devin Vassell and Josh Primo will be part of the team’s long-term future, and Dejounte Murray is quickly establishing himself as one of the team’s faces. Despite being eliminated by the New Orleans Pelicans, the future is bright for San Antonio. Their focus will turn to adding another key piece to this year’s draft. With the ninth overall pick officially determined, the Spurs should be looking for three players in the draft.
The Spurs’ top pick with the No. 9 pick in the 2022 NBA Draft
AJ Griffin – SF Duke
AJ Griffin has his sights set on a long wing that will fit seamlessly with the Spurs. Duke products work in his role and make smart basketball work in every game. In his lone collegiate season, Griffin shot 44.7 percent from 3-point range. This ability as a deep threat will allow him to open up space immediately and make him a weapon in today’s game.
One of the criticisms of Griffin was his lack of confidence on offense. He has often been overshadowed by Paolo Banchero and other talented members of the Duke team this season. The 6-foot-6 forward is selfless, but it’s something he’ll learn the more he plays. The 18-year-old is averaging 10.4 points, 3.9 rebounds and 1.0 assists. He has an NBA-ready body and a playstyle that translates better at the next level. AJ Griffin has the feel of a Spurs player and would be a great option if he were on the board at No. 9.
Shaedon Sharpe – SG Kentucky
The biggest mystery in this year’s draft is Shaedon Sharpe. The 18-year-old hasn’t played a minute of college basketball since being reclassified midseason and joining Kentucky. His framework and skill set appear to flourish at the next level, but the sample size to analyze is so small. Sharp took advantage of his recruiting rankings soaring after a strong showing in the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League.
His 6-foot-6 frame and 7-foot wingspan combined with his jaw-dropping athleticism make him difficult to pass. Sharp has impressive finishing ability and a nice jumper. His shot selection might take some work, but he shows potential as an off-ball cutter. Under more normal circumstances, he would likely be in the No. 1 overall pick. That potential makes him hard to pass up if he’s drafted at No. 9.
Tari Eason- SF/PF LSU
The Cincinnati move is another player that fits the mold the Spurs are trying to build. In his only season at LSU, he averaged 16.9 points, 6.6 rebounds, 1.9 steals and 1.1 blocks. His 7-foot wingspan and impressive defensive instincts make him extremely impactful on the defensive end. Eason can guard the 1-4 and excel in transition. He has impressive athleticism and a solid touch that matches his size.
The forward’s shooting skills need to be improved, and he makes mental mistakes at times. He relies too much on his athleticism and sometimes tries to pass the ball, but sometimes he can’t. Eason Chan averaged 2.2 turnovers and 1.0 assists per game. His season at LSU really took a big step forward as a 3-point shooter, and his shooting percentage has improved from 24.1 percent to 35.9 percent this season. The 21-year-old has exciting potential and his leaps this season give him hope of getting there. The Spurs will have to be patient with his development, but his cap might be worth it.