The Blue Route NBA Mock Draft: #19 – San Antonio Spurs

With the 19th pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, the San Antonio Spurs select…

Blue Route is bringing you draft coverage leading up to the NBA draft on June 20th, 2019. The NBA draft often sees movement,
trades, and drama, so to prepare you
for various potential outcomes, the Blue Route will be giving you draft profiles for the all of the likely top picks, as well as our very own mock draft.

2019 NBA Mock Draft Results
  1. New Orleans Pelicans – Zion Williamson
  2. Memphis Grizzlies – Ja Morant
  3. New York Knicks – RJ Barrett
  4. Los Angeles Lakers – Jarrett Culver
  5. Cleveland Cavaliers – DeAndre Hunter
  6. Phoenix Suns – Coby White
  7. Chicago Bulls – Cam Reddish
  8. Atlanta Hawks – Sekou Doumbouya
  9. Washington Wizards – Bol Bol 
  10. Atlanta Hawks – Jaxson Hayes 
  11. Minnesota Timberwolves – Nickeil Alexander-Walker
  12. Charlotte Hornets – Darius Garland
  13. Miami Heat – PJ Washington
  14. Boston Celtics – Brandon Clarke
  15. Detroit Pistons – Rui Hachimura
  16. Orlando Magic – Goga Bitazde
  17. Atlanta Hawks – Nassir Little
  18. Indiana Pacers – Bruno Fernando

Current State of the San Antonio Spurs

The San Antonio Spurs have been — what most consider — THE model franchise in the NBA. They haven’t missed the postseason in 20+ years, which is a remarkable achievement in itself. They pride themselves on player development and have proven over the years that a small market NBA franchise can be dominant. 

The Spurs are coming off of another successful season in which they made the playoffs. It’s pretty remarkable, considering they just traded away a top 5 NBA talent in Kawhi Leonard. The Spurs opted for a win-now move in trading for DeMar DeRozan, instead of going into a rebuild phase. Time will tell if that decision will come back to haunt them, but they have gathered a great core of players. 

The Spurs managed to push the second seeded Denver Nuggets to a very competitive seven game series, and came very close to upsetting them.

R.C Buford, the Spurs GM, has done an amazing job of building around their stars in Lamarcus Aldridge and Demar DeRozan. This is actually harder than it sounds, considering that Aldridge and DeRozan both have play styles that revolve around the dying art that has become the midrange shot. 

Looking ahead into 2019 Free Agency

The San Antonio Spurs have never been a big free agent destination, and that’s fine considering they’ve never needed talent to come to them. They’ve simply grown it in their own backyard with player development. It’s unlikely that will change come this offseason. 

The team has their payroll tied up for next season with some wiggle room for cheap contracts at best. 

Their two franchise players — DeRozan and Aldridge — are on contract for another two years. Core pieces such as Patty Mills, Davis Bertans, Bryn Forbes, amongst others are still on contract for the near future. 

The Spurs will have a decision to make with unrestricted free agent Rudy Gay. Gay has bounced back from an injury that not many players have in the past – an Achilles tear. He has revived his career with the Spurs and has shown that he’s a very capable forward in today’s NBA. Rudy Gay is now 32 and is coming off a year of making around $10 million. 

The Selection – Cameron Johnson 

Why this pick? The answer is simple: shooting, shooting, and more shooting. 

The San Antonio Spurs want to win with DeMar DeRozan and Lamarcus Aldridge. That’s fine, but in today’s NBA, you have to surround them with shooting talent so they can thrive. Cameron Johnson is arguably the best pure shooter in the draft, coming off of a season of shooting a blistering 46% from three on almost six attempts per game. 

 

The biggest hole in the Spurs’ current roster construction is actually small forward. The Spurs are loaded with talent elsewhere in their backcourt and center position. When you look at the roster, you see that DeRozan — who has primarily played shooting guard his entire career — is mostly taking up the minutes at the small forward spot. Rudy Gay can play small forward, but he’s much better utilized as a small ball four. 

Johnson is an older player at 23 years old, but can develop into a quality role player for the Spurs. He can provide the team with what they need in a limited role early on and help their growing future players thrive with Dejounte Murray and Lonnie Walker. 

The biggest weakness in Cameron Johnson is his age and defense. There’s not much growth likely to happen to turn Johnson into a star talent, and he’s also not very athletic, which may lead to him being a liability on defense at times. 

This would be an excellent pick for the Spurs and what they are trying to accomplish. It’s a safer pick, with not much upside to go along with it. That’s fine, considering you aren’t looking to draft franchise player talent at pick 19. 

Rookie Prediction

As stated before, Cameron Johnson is an older NBA prospect. While that is considered a weakness to most, it also means he can come in and provide NBA minutes now with a team. The Spurs have a hole in their small forward position that can get even larger if Rudy Gay departs via free agency. 

Cameron Johnson could end up being the backup small forward for DeRozan in the rotation, given good performance. Utilizing Johnson could allow DeRozan to go back into his natural position more often as a shooting guard. 

The Spurs are deep with talent, so playing time is hard to predict in this case. I could see Cameron Johnson playing around 10-15 minutes his rookie year and providing averages of 6 points-per-game and 2 rebounds-per-game, while shooting +37% from three.