The San Antonio Spurs did not trade down in NBA Draft on Thursday like some experts suspected but still ended up with a gem in 6-foot-6 guard and Big 12 Player of the Year James Anderson out of Oklahoma State University.
ESPN college basketball analyst Jay Bilas called San Antonio the winner of this year’s draft, although they possessed only two picks through two rounds, which placed them among 10 other teams in the draft as one of the lowest in ownership selections.
But Anderson, a member of this year’s AP All-American Second Team, fell back into the Spurs lap at a sultry 20th overall pick, a position Bilas claimed him to be far “too talented to drop this far.”
He is referred to as one of the most NBA ready players who’s game directly corresponds to the pro level.
Once again the Spurs have found a way to place themselves back into a position of relevancy, albeit with a little luck and given grace from the teams drafting before them, adding a player who stands to make an immediate impact in head coach Gregg Popovich’s offensive system in the coming NBA season ? especially following a season where the team shot a despicable 33.8 percent from beyond the arc while opponents converted 38.5 percent, an almost 8 percent difference.
Historically, the Spurs have cleared a 37.8 percentile behind the 3-point line over the past 5 years while also holding their opponents to an average of 35.6.
Anderson gives the Spurs legitimacy to rise back in the ranks of contention as one of the top 3-point shooting teams next year.
Continuing on their streak of 11-straight 50 or more wins per season in the 2009-10 calendar year, once again the Spurs were late bloomers to arrive as a team primed for title contention, but this time that moment did not dawn until a month or so before the start of the postseason. This was due in large part to the team’s drop off in perimeter shooting players like Bruce Bowen who could always space the floor for power forward Tim Duncan to operate in the low post while draining well-timed threes from the corners.
Anderson ends his career for the Cowboys at Oklahoma State in his junior year following a spectacular season where he averaged 22.3 points and 5.8 rebounds per game. He is known as a great shooter, efficient scorer and ball handler, slasher and a pick and roll player who uses screens effectively to gain space or penetrates into the lane and creates his own shot, all skill sets that helped make the Spurs one of the best dynasties in the last 10 years.
Ryan Richards is an English born 19-year-old, 6-foot-11 inch, 230-pound power forward who was drafted with the Spur’s 49th pick in the second round.
Richards was signed to Spanish EBA League team La Caja Gran Canariia but was loaned to Switzerland club BBC Monthey which plays in a semi-professional, mid-major league. He averaged 13.2 points and 5.5 rebounds per game this past season but not much was known about him prior to his workout at a Combine in Chicago where he supposedly impressed personnel in attendance.
Bilas called Richards a “workout wonder” who displayed an ability to catch and finish, as well as a knack for running the floor well.
“He’s not Patrick Ewing, but he’s also not Patrick O’Bryant,” Bilas said, but only time would tell.
This offseason’s draft class could not have come in a better year for the Spurs, especially after swingman Richard Jefferson’s disappointing first year with the team where he averaged a career-low 12.3 points and enters his final season in a two-year deal with the franchise.
And there have also been whispers of a possible trade of point guard Tony Parker after another season rifled with injuries and the emergence of fellow teammate and second-year player George Hill who had been inserted at point guard for a greater part of the year after earning Coach Popovich’s trust.
The primary constants that certainly remain are future Hall of Famer Duncan and former NBA Sixth Man of the Year Manu Ginobli who recently signed a three-year contract extension with the team. But Duncan is on the back end of his career and Ginobli is leaned upon so much his play can only hold the same level for a limit amount of time which previous miladies have shown in the past.
The San Antonio front office and Spurs fans always have such high expectations for the franchise after winning three championships in the last 10 years, but if a roster rehaul were to take place it might be a while before they find that prominence again