With the 26th pick in the 2015 NBA Draft the San Antonio Spurs select Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Forward, Arizona.
With only five players on the books for next season and two all-time greats mulling retirement, the San Antonio Spurs have a lot of decisions to make. Many of the players entering free agency have such unique skill sets that losing them may lead to a significant retooling of the roster. Complicating things further is that the Spurs may pursue a big time free agent, like LaMarcus Aldridge or Marc Gasol. But this may mean giving up Danny Green and/or trading Tiago Splitter to make room for another max-salary player.
Even if the Spurs decide to enact few major changes, they could still see an improvement next year. One could argue that their offense struggled a bit more this past season in part because they're transitioning to a team built around Kawhi Leonard. Leonard's growing pains in 2014-15 may pay dividends in 2015-16, with greater experience against defenses geared toward stopping him and his ever-improving offensive arsenal. The Leonard-Green combo would still be one of the most feared wing pairings in the league, and Tony Parker could very well bounce back after an injury-plagued season. Hopefully we'll see the return of Manu Ginobili and Tim Duncan, who still sets the tone of the organization with his hard work and unassuming personality. The multi-talented Kyle Anderson could also have a role going forward.
But with an aging roster, I think the Spurs could use an infusion of athleticism. 6'7" Arizona swingman Rondae Hollis-Jefferson is one of the best athletes still available and possesses one of the best bodies in college, with wide shoulders, strength, and a wingspan of over seven feet. If the Spurs lean too heavily on Leonard or if Green leaves via free agency, Hollis-Jefferson can keep the Spurs' perimeter defense from collapsing.
Defense is his best asset, earning Pac-12 All-Defensive Team honors and showing the ability to guard multiple positions, even having some success against small guards and post players. Jefferson says he takes it personally when opposing players score against him, and his effort and competitiveness are characteristics that the Spurs organization value highly. He would also be another body to throw at the Golden State Warriors, the Spurs' biggest rival for Western Conference supremacy and a team with plenty of dangerous threats from the perimeter.
While Hollis-Jefferson currently has horrible jump-shot mechanics, he can fit the Spurs' offense in other ways. The Spurs utilize constant player movement, passing, and misdirection to score, and Hollis-Jefferson is a willing passer who is good at cutting to open space. His ability to attack open lanes and get out on the break will help a second unit that will possibly feature the aging Ginobili and Marco Belinelli. His poor ballhandling may be an issue, but I would expect to see Ginobili, Patty Mills, or Cory Joseph running the offense when he's on the court in 2015-16.
I also think he has the disposition and work ethic to handle the high demands of Gregg Popovich and the San Antonio Spurs organization. A 20-year-old like Rondae Hollis-Jefferson has a better chance at a successful NBA career in an organization with a track record for developing young players. Like Kawhi Leonard, another player who entered the league with questions about his offense (although Leonard's was far better), I think Hollis-Jefferson would eventually thrive with the Spurs.
*Tim Duncan decided to return for a record 34th straight season*
RockyMountainWay and the Los Angeles Lakers are on the clock.