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NBA Speed Dating: San Antonio Spurs

Does this landing spot “Pop” off the page?

Tyrese Halliburton is a young bachelor, in terms of NBA employment. A slew of potential suitors are lining up nicely for him in the NBA draft lottery. His partner will be determined on draft day, November 18, 2020. For now, we’ll speed date around the NBA teams finding the best fit for our beloved point guard, and which team he could end up with, for years to come. So spritz that cologne, floss those teeth, and work on your pick up lines. It’s speed-dating time.

Pulling up to our table next is the San Antonio Spurs. I spoke with Noah Magaro-George (@N_Magaro) from Pounding the Rock to see if a match with the Spurs is in the cards.

A: The Spurs haven’t picked in the lottery for over 2 decades. Do you see them “swinging for the fences” on a project player or targeting a high floor guy that can contribute right away?

N: Patrick Williams has been linked to the Spurs and a ton of notable national mock drafts have him slated to San Antonio. They swung for the fences with Luka Samanic last season, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they took a guy who needs some time to round out his game like Pat-Will. Then again, if someone like Devin Vassell, Isaac Okoro or Onyeka Okongwu slipped to 11, I don’t think they would hesitate to add someone who could be a day-one contributor to a team aspiring for the playoffs.

A: What do you think the Spurs would like most about Tyrese Haliburton’s game? Where do you expect him to have to improve as a young player?

N; The Spurs were among the worst defensive teams in the league last season, and Hali was one of the most underrated team defenders in college basketball. He makes all the right rotations and calculated gambles make him a defensive playmaker who can turn defense into offense. I have some concerns about his swtich-ability because of his frame. I think driving and finishing at the rim are the areas he most needs to improve at the next level. San Antonio already has a few guards (Lonnie and Dejounte) who struggle in that area, and that combined with their log jammed backcourt makes me believe they won’t take Hali even if he is there at 11.

A: Coach Pop has had tons of success with efficient and cerebral players. Do you see Haliburton as a guy who fits in his system?

N: I think Haliburton could be someone who could thrive in most any system since he is such a high BBIQ guy. Like I said earlier, San Antonio is so crowded in the backcourt that I don’t necessarily see that union happening. If it did, I think it could work out if they moved on from other guards. I don’t see that happening though.

A: How much longer will Pop be around and do you think his successor is already on the staff?

N: Pop is entering the final two years on his extension he signed in 2019, and at 71-years-old, I don’t see him sticking around the NBA in a coaching capacity too much longer. I love Becky as the heir to his throne, and Will Hardy has proven to be a hot commodity around the league, so I would be interested to see him take the mantle as well. Even a former assistant like Ime Udoka intrigues me.

A: LaMarcus Aldridge has 1 year left on his contract and DeMar DeRozan has a player option for this season. Do you see the Spurs running it back for a playoff push or moving toward a rebuild?

N: Unfortunately, I think the Spurs will attempt to chase the 7th or 8th seed as long as Pop is around, and they might see LA and DD as the best options to lead that charge. Then again, they played well in the bubble with DD surrounded by their young core, so maybe they buy into a run-and-gun style youth movement. Both LA and DD have diminishing trade value, and if you deal them, you’re leaving the team in the hands of bunch of unproven youngsters. I’m high on Derrick White and Keldon Johnson, and I have hope for Lonnie to continue progressing, but I’m not sure what Dejounte has to offer going forward. I need to see a big step forward from his this season or I’m not so sure he can be an integral part of this rebuild. Everything hinges on DD and whether or not he opts out, so I think we’ll have a better idea of where the pieces fall once he comes to a decision. I doubt he leaves $27M on the table, but there have been several reports from credible sources throughout the year that claim he isn’t happy in San Antonio.

Verdict

Not every team is going to be a perfect match. The prospect of playing for a legendary coach like Greg Popovich and a winning culture that’s developed over 20+ years is exciting. It’s unlikely Tyrese will still be available at this point of the draft, and if he is or the Spurs trade up, this union probably wouldn’t be the best for either side. The Spurs don’t have a natural need at point guard, and while Tyrese can play in any scheme, they are probably targeting an impact wing player first. Hopefully we don’t have to worry about it as our guy should be off the board already.