The Spurs drafted three high-upside 19-year-olds on Thursday, with the hopes that one or more of their new prospects can help All-Star point guard Dejounte Murray reach new heights on the court — or perhaps replace him as the next face of the franchise, writes Mike Finger of the San Antonio Express-News.
San Antonio is hopeful that pesky ex-Baylor center Jeremy Sochan, selected with the ninth pick in the draft, sharpshooting wing Malaki Branham, and defensive-oriented guard Blake Wesley will all develop into solid contributors.
Given the fact that Murray is now an All-Star talent on a desirable below-market contract, Finger notes that the Spurs may be wary of giving the 25-year-old point guard a maximum contract extension that would pay in the neighborhood of $40MM annually. If the team decides Murray isn’t capable of being the best player on a title team, it may still look to move him for a solid haul and hope that one of the new players in this rebuild can become the team’s next All-Star.
There’s more out of the Lone Star State:
- The Spurs‘ front office is satisfied with its latest draft picks, per Tom Osborn of the San Antonio Express-News. “We approach every draft trying to find the best available talent,” Spurs general manager Brian Wright said. “We walked away from this one feeling pretty good about what we ended up with. We had all three guys with draft grades inside of [the top] 20.” Osborn notes that the 6’8″ Sochan, a versatile defender honored as the 2022 Big 12 Sixth Man of the Year, was drafted with the highest pick the Spurs have used since 1997. “As you see now, teams playing smaller and guys being able to guard multiple positions, do different things on the floor,” Wright said. “We think he complements the group really well. He’s a connector, right? He connects you on both ends of the floor.”
- After the Rockets enjoyed a robust draft last week, adding three intriguing youngsters in the first round, the team is set to turn its attention to the futures of veteran guards John Wall and Eric Gordon, writes Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle. Both players could be in the final season of their lucrative contracts: Wall’s deal expires in the summer of 2023, and Gordon has a non-guaranteed $20.9MM team option for the 2023/24 season. Feigen says that Gordon’s defensive skills may make him a solid trade target for contenders, but cautions that teams may temper their trade package offers given that Houston will be hoping to offload him for whatever offer they can finagle.
- Though new Rockets forward Tari Eason, selected with the No. 17 pick out of LSU, did not even start in college, he is confident he can excel in Houston, writes Danielle Lerner of the Houston Chronicle. A speedy, defensively-oriented 6’8″ forward with a 7’2″ wingspan, Eason noted that his emergence as something of a late-blooming prospect helped fuel him. “I’ve always had a pretty good defensive mindset just from my competitive nature from high school, even before then,” Eason said. “I wasn’t heavily recruited so I always carried that chip on my shoulder and that real edge that has helped me carry through.” Eason was not without some pedigree by the time he finished his NCAA tenure: he was voted the 2022 SEC Sixth Man of the Year and made the 2022 All-SEC First Team.