Jana Austin

Southwest Notes: Castle, Spurs, Pelicans, T. Allen, Grizzlies

Stephon Castle, a projected lottery pick who is ranked No. 6 on ESPN’s best available prospects list, has been telling NBA teams he wants to play point guard after primarily playing off the ball at UConn, writes Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News (subscriber link).

I feel my true position is point guard, and I feel the last few months I had to sacrifice for the betterment of the team,” Castle said. “It worked out for us, so it’s not anything to harp on or be bitter about.

As Orborn writes, while Castle struggled with his shot at times in college, converting just 26.7% of his three-pointers, he brings plenty of attributes the Spurs look for in prospects, with plus size (he’s 6’6″ with a 6’9″ wingspan and weighs 210 pounds), all-around versatility, and strong defense. The Spurs also have a noteworthy void at point guard, with Tre Jones the only true floor general on the roster.

San Antonio controls two lottery picks, Nos. 4 and 8, and the team is indeed believed to be interested in Castle, league sources tell Kelly Iko of The Athletic.

I’m more of a two-way point guard,” Castle said, per Orsborn. “I really like to pass the ball. And I like to shoot off the dribble a lot. That’s what my game really consists of, being on the ball, getting my teammates involved, scoring whenever I need to and defending at a high level.”

Here’s more from the Southwest:

  • Should the Spurs draft Kentucky guard Reed Sheppard with one of their two lottery picks? LJ Ellis of SpursTalk.com explores that question, writing that Sheppard has plenty of desirable attributes, including excellent shooting and strong play-making on defense, but his lack of length might be a turn-off for the team. Sheppard is No. 4 on ESPN’s board.
  • The Pelicans have elected to part ways with assistant athletic trainer Jana Austin, who has been with the team since 2020, league sources tell Christian Clark of The Times-Picayune. A former Nets employee, Austin worked closely with star forward Zion Williamson, according to Clark.
  • In an interview with Kelly Iko of The Athletic, former defensive ace Tony Allen says having his No. 9 jersey retired next season is a “dream come true.” “This is every hooper’s dream and I’m very thankful,” Allen said. “Big shout out to the Grizzlies for always holding it down for me. Embracing me. Acknowledging the fact that I struck a match to the organization with my phrase ‘Grit-n-Grind’ and that lives forever.” Memphis originally planned to retire Allen’s number during the 2021/22 season, but the veteran guard asked the team to postpone the ceremony due to his legal issues.