The San Antonio Spurs will be busy during the 2022 NBA Draft. With the No. 9 overall pick and three total selections in the first round, they will be a team many around the league will watch.
There has been a wide range of projected potential outcomes for what the Spurs could end up doing with their picks. A fair amount of the outcome will be determined by what plays out with the decisions other teams make before them.
Some recent reporting suggests the Spurs will target a traditional center like Jalen Duren or Mark Wiliams with the No. 9 overall pick. Using the pick in an opportunistic trade is always a possibility to watch for any team, including the Spurs, too.
As draft day continues to near, the will naturally continue to change projections change. Outlets will release mock drafts with adjustments based on the latest chatter around the NBA.
Here’s a breakdown of each of the projected picks for the Spurs in the latest NBA mock draft from The Ringer:
No. 9 Overall Pick — Ousmane Dieng, F, New Zealand
Using the No. 9 overall selection in the 2022 NBA Draft, The Ringer has the Spurs selecting Ousmane Dieng from the New Zealand Breakers. He is 6-foot-10 forward with a 7-foot-1 wingspan and is considered a raw prospect. However, many like the flashes he displayed as a shot creator and his tools as a defender.
Dieng had a rough start to the 2021-22 season with averages of 4.0 points and 2.1 rebounds through his initial 11 games. He finished out the season averaging 14.2 points and 4.4 rebounds over his final 11 games. Injuries opened up more playing time for him.
Perhaps what was most intriguing about Dieng is that his efficiency improved when his opportunity for more playing time came. He shot 48.4 percent from the floor and 35.7 percent on 3s during that final 11-game stretch. It was a significant turnaround in production.
Though he is raw as a scorer, the Spurs could have him follow the same developmental plan that Keldon Johnson and Devin Vassell experienced in their system. With size, scoring, a will to pass, and potential defensive versatility, Dieng could become the steal of the draft.
There’s been increased momentum surrounding Dieng’s draft stock. Based on mainstream media projections, the consensus projection is that as of today, he’s a late lottery prospect that could be selected around the same range as A.J. Griffin, Jeremy Sochan, and Mark Williams.
There were moments earlier in the draft process when the Spurs were a projected landing spot for Dieng at No. 20 overall. It’s not unforeseen for a prospect to build their stock, but being a top 10 selection still seems to be less likely to happen than for it to occur.
No. 20 Overall Pick — Nikola Jovic, F, Mega Basket
The Ringer has the Spurs using the No. 20 overall pick to select Nikola Jovic, the Serbian prospect that has garnered significant attention from scouts throughout the pre-draft prospect. Some believe he could go inside the top 20, but he’d be available here.
At 6-foot-10, Jovic brings a lot of skill for a 6-foot-10 player, let alone one who is 19-years-old. He’s an impressive playmaker that checks every box as an off-ball threat that can raise the ceiling of the unit as a result. It’s not easy to find 6-foot-10 shooters that are great passers and can thrive spacing or initiating.
Jovic has long been a favorite of draft analysts and it’s not difficult to see why that’s the case. He can shoot and do just about everything with the basketball in his hands. The idea would be that his skill-set would complement the current personnel on the roster since he can shoot and create plays for teammates.
Jovic is an ideal fit for the Spursian style that prioritizes ball movement and motion. At 6-foot-10, he can handle, shoot, and create for teammates. The Spurs have shaped their roster with players who fit the same profile for decades. Jovic would follow the same philosophy on a team already ripe with lengthy creators.
The selection of Jovic after already taking Ousmane Dieng would be a doubling down on the four spot. Both are 6-foot-10, finesse players with long-term upside. It’s not too often a team chooses to go in such a direction on draft night.
No. 25 Overall Pick — Jaden Hardy, F, G-League Ignite
A team with three first-round picks are afforded some flexibility to take upside swings. For the Spurs, The Ringer has them taking Jaden Hardy with the No. 25 overall pick.
The 6-foot-4 guard was a five-star recruit coming out of high school and opted to play for the G-League Ignite instead of going the traditional NCAA route. He averaged 17.7 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 3.2 assists. That’s good right? Well, he shot just 35.1 percent from the floor and 26.9 percent from beyond the arc and averaged up 3.5 turnovers.
There was a lot of hype surrounding Jaden Hardy before he began his season with the G-League Ignite. He was projected by some experts to go inside the top five of the NBA Draft, but an underwhelming season tanked his stock.
After selecting two forwards earlier in this mock, here’s a scoring wing for the Spurs. Hardy was a top high school recruit whose draft stock plummeted during a poor season with the G League Ignite. But at this point of the first round, someone could take a shot. Considering San Antonio’s desire to find a star scorer, he seems worth the risk.
The Spurs would be betting that with the right player development environment, Hardy would turn his flashes of electrifying potential into more consistent results. Again, there isn’t too much they have to lose when considering they would already have made two picks before this one.
You can follow Grant Afseth on Twitter at @GrantAfseth.
Want the latest in breaking news and insider information on the Spurs? Click here.
Follow Inside The Spurs on Facebook here
Follow Inside the Spurs on Twitter @InsideTheSpurs