Spurs 2008 Draft
The NBA Draft has once again come and gone, and if there's one thing that can be counted on-aside from New York fans booing every pick their team makes, and an assortment of questionable fashion decisions-is the San Antonio Spurs making some interesting picks, and choosing some players that most casual basketball fans have never heard of. The Spurs had a fairly good season last year, and were perhaps a Brent Barry foul call away from having a chance at extending their series against the Lakers, and meeting the Celtics in the Finals, and management stated soon after their season ended that they would not be blowing up the team this season and starting over.
San Antonio had three picks, the 26th in the first round, and two late picks in the second round. In past drafts, like last year's for example, management went out on a limb and picked a player in Tiago Splitter, who then went on to sign a all-but-permanent contract to stay in Spain for the next several years. With their second pick in 2007, they took Marcus Williams, who lasted with the team long enough to have a cup of coffee before catching his flight to the Clippers.
Of course, this time last year, the Spurs were coming off of a championship run, and no one could blame management for taking a flyer on a player in Splitter with lots of upside, but also with a risk that he might never wear the silver and black. This year's team was plagued by injury issues, and needs to get younger. It also couldn't really afford to take many chances-although they did with the first pick.
George Hill is a point guard from IUPUI, and whom most fans have likely never heard of. When he was in high school, though, all of the big school knew him, and he had scholarships from all of the big time basketball schools. In the end, Indiana University, Temple, Florida, and the others couldn't lure him away from home and from his sick great-grandfather. IUPUI stands for Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis, but only the name is what the school has in common with its namesakes, as far as basketball is concerned.
Hill is a dead-eye shooter, making around 45% of his shots from behind the arc in his senior campaign, while making almost 55% of all field goals. He averaged 21 points per game last season. In Hill’s redshirt Junior season he scored in double digits in every game, and scored more than 20 in half of them. The Spurs' plan is for him to be Tony Parker’s backup, and to provide minutes off the bench.
The Spurs' second pick also had a prolific college career, and has a good chance to stick with the team. Malik Hairston from Oregon is a solid prospect who can do a little of everything and was good value at the 48th spot. At 6'5" and 205 he's a big two guard who averaged 16 ppg and just under 5 rebounds per game during his senior year. Hairston shot 43% from behind the arc and made 52% of his field goals during his senior year. Hairston played his senior year at over 220 pounds, but slimmed down before the pre-draft workouts. Also in many of those workouts, he was pressed into duty as a point guard, where he showed off deft ball handling skills, and a nice handle.
It would seem that the Damon Stoudamire experiment is over, and Jaques Vaughn is perhaps on his way out as well with the drafting of two.
Finally, with their last pick, the Spurs took James Gist, a power forward out of Maryland who averaged 15 points and 7 rebounds during his senior year. Gist is 6'8" and 225 lbs, and is athletic and can provide solid defense, if he can manage to stick with the team.