Spurs Draft for Future, Get Size and Scoring
Written by Randy Watson
The last time the Spurs had the 28th pick in the first round, they selected a small, little-known point guard from a foreign country named Tony Parker. That seemed to work out all right, and San Antonio hopes that this year with the exact same draft position, they can use the same blueprint to achieve similar success.
By drafting Tiago Splitter (round 1, 28 overall), a 6’11” 232 lb. power forward/center from Brazil, the team has added an athletic big, who is a defensive stopper with excellent fundamentals. While no Tim Duncan, Splitter does seem to be cut from the same mold - tall, lanky, agile and athletic - and should be able to spell Duncan as he learns the NBA game. Splitter is currently under contract in the Spanish League, and has a large buyout which should insure that he remains in Spain for another year. Splitter has entered the draft each of the last four years, withdrawing each time.
Splitter's offensive skill set does not exactly fit into the Spurs offensive scheme, as he is typically more productive playing in a faster tempo style, and needs to add some muscle and a longer jump shot, but he should have another year in Spain to improve. The young Brazilian has been playing professionally since he was 17, making the Brazilian national team at that age, and leading his team to the gold medal in the 2005 world championships by scoring 41 points, 24 rebounds, and 6 blocks in the final two games. Splitter is known to be aggressive on the boards, and picks up many of his points from offensive rebounds and put backs. Last year in Spain, Splitter averaged just under 11 points per game with 6 rebounds.
San Antonio also had two second round picks, and chose Marcus Williams, and small forward out of Arizona with the third pick in round two, and Giorgos Printezis, and small forward out of Greece with the 28th pick. Williams can play the two guard or move over to the three position, and averaged just under 17 points a game with almost 7 rebounds in his last season at Arizona. He was fourth in the Pac 10 in scoring. Williams’ draft stock likely slipped a bit, due to a lackluster postseason performance, but he is certainly a gifted athlete.
The Spurs traded Printezis to Toronto for a second round pick next year.
Certainly, the Spurs hope that these picks (especially Splitter) work out as well as some of their previous selections of foreign players. When San Antonio took Ginobili, he remained abroad for three years before joining the team. They also still have the rights to five players, all currently playing abroad. Of course, having just won the NBA championship roughly a month ago, San Antonio can surely afford to be patient while they wait for their investments to pay off.