The San Antonio Spurs are in rebuild mode.
However, armed with a Hall of Fame head coach and an elite player development group, they have as much reason to look forward to the 2023 NBA Draft as any team.
Not in the least because, with the third overall pick, the Spurs are in position to add a franchise cornerstone to their roster.
Whether San Antonio will get their presumed top target or not is uncertain. What is clear though is that there are multiple players that should be early targets for the Spurs with the No. 3 pick in the 2023 NBA Draft.
3 early 2023 NBA Draft targets for Spurs with No. 3 lottery slot in first round
Metropolitans 92 power forward Victor Wembanyama just seems to fit the San Antonio Spurs perfectly.
Not just because of the Spurs and Gregg Popovich’s history with Hall of Fame big men Tim Duncan and David Robinson. Not even because of their familiarity with international prospects, like Tony Parker (France), Manu Ginobli (Argentina), Marco Belinelli (Italy), and Boris Diaw (France).
Wembanyama would arrive at San Antonio with high upside as a big man for an undersized team that clearly needs a player his 7-foot-3 frame in the frontcourt with opponents grabbing 45.0 rebounds per game against them (which ranks 26th in the league). More than that, the Spurs only average 3.9 blocks per game (which ranks 26th in the NBA as well), shoot 52.9 percent from 2-point range (because all bad things come in threes, this also ranks 26th) and have a 22.9 percent free-throw rate (which ranks 29th in the league).
With Metropolitans 92, Wemby’s averaged 21.4 points, 9.9 rebounds, and 3.1 blocks per game. He’s also gotten to the free-throw line 6.1 times per game, making 83.5 percent of his attempts.
Although it’s not an exact science, Wemby would rank second on the Spurs in points per game, first in rebounds per game, first in blocks per game (by a +2.0 differential), and first in free-throw attempts per game.
Even without the fact that he has legitimate All-Star potential and the desire to be one of the best players in the world, Wembanyama is simply what the doctor ordered in San Antonio.
Unfortunately, he may not be available at the No. 3 spot.
A player that probably will be available for the San Antonio Spurs is G League Ignite guard Scoot Henderson, a player who could also be their best fit.
Averaging 16.5 points, 6.8 assists, 4.3 rebounds, 1.1 steals, and 0.6 blocks per game on 42.9 percent shooting from the field and 27.5 percent shooting from 3-point range, what stands out about Henderson is primarily his length and explosiveness at the position. At 19-years-old, Henderson is 6-foot-2 and 195 pounds with a reported 6-foot-9 wingspan and large hands.
Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich just had a similar point guard on the roster in Dejounte Murray. Pop was able to coach Murray into a two-way star before allowing the guard to play for a contending team. Murray was eventually traded to the Atlanta Hawks, where he seems to have taken over as the de facto leader of the team.
Henderson would give Popovich not just a player who could potentially replace Murray but impending restricted free agent Tre Jones as well. In the event that the talented floor general receives a contract offer that the salary-conscious Spurs are unwilling to match, Henderson would get every opportunity to grow alongside San Antonio’s young roster.
Henderson may seem like less of a surefire star than others because of his poor shooting splits. However, it’s important to acknowledge that the Memphis Grizzlies thrive behind Ja Morant, another highly explosive athlete without a true jumper.
The San Antonio Spurs and Alabama Crimson Tide forward Brandon Miller would be a nice fit as well.
A true small forward, Miller is a smooth three-level scorer and high-level athlete at 6-foot-9 and 200 pounds. Bringing Miller on board allow the Spurs to move multiple players to their true positions, which inherently improves them as a basketball team.
With Malakhi Branham or Tre Jones likely to keep manning the point guard position if the Spurs draft Miller, Keldon Johnson and Devin Vassell will be a great 1-2 punch at shooting guard.
Both Johnson and Vassell are 6-foot-5 and undersized for the frontcourt. However, they’re the Spurs best perimeter defenders and often relied upon to guard bigger players. Having 6-foot-9 forward Jeremy Sochan on board helps San Antonio plenty in that regard but he can only help so much by himself.
Miller, a player that will be capable of guarding 1-4 at the next level, would be a terrific complement to what the Spurs have already built.
Getting into the numbers, Miller averaged 18.8 points, 8.2 rebounds, 0.9 steals, and 0.9 blocks per game in 2022-23, shooting 43.0 percent from the field and 38.4 percent from 3-point range.
For multiple reasons, he won’t be a go-to scorer for the Spurs from Day 1. Fortunately, he doesn’t have to be.
Being on the team that turned Kawhi Leonard into an elite scorer is a reason to be optimistic about what he can be in San Antonio though.