The NBA held its 2022 draft from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. The Orlando Magic used the number one pick in the draft to select Duke forward Paolo Banchero. San Antonio Spurs fans were more interested in selections that would occur later in the first round. San Antonio had the 9th, 20th, and 25th in the first round and the 38th pick in the draft’s second round. The Spurs finished the 2021-2022 season with a 34-48 record and clinched a spot in the NBA play-in-tournament, looking to secure a spot in the playoffs. San Antonio lost the play-in-game to the New Orleans Pelicans 113-103, ending their season and playoff hopes.
The two most significant needs for the Spurs going into the draft was frontcourt help and 3-point shooting. The Spurs shot 35.2% from downtown, which ranked 18th in the NBA. Improved production from beyond the arc would open things up for dribble penetration and allow the guards to drive and kick if a defender is sagging off of a shooter. San Antonio is very guard-heavy and needs to find some quality big men to help the frontcourt. Jakob Poeltl is a quality center but has only one year remaining on his contract. Beyond Poeltl, the Spurs only have Zach Collins and Jock Landale as options at center. Collins did not play in 2020-21 due to an ankle injury and played in only 28 games for the Spurs this season. Collins is averaging 17.5 minutes per game, 2.4 field goals per game, and 3.2 rebounds per game. Jock Landale averaged 10.9 minutes per game, averaging 2.6 rebounds per game and just under two buckets per game.
Pick Number 9
The San Antonio Spurs selected Jeremy Sochan out of Baylor University. Sochan is a 6-9 defensive specialist who can defend any position on the court. Sochan earned the Big-12’s Sixth Man of the Year and Big-12-All-Freshman Team averaging 9.2 points, 6.4 boards, and 1.3 steals per game during his one year at Baylor. The report on Sochan is that he is a capable passer and cutter and can knock down open shots. Sochan discussed being drafted to San Antonio, saying, “I think I’m going to fit really well, it’s a really young squad with a lot of energy, and I feel like they’re one of the best teams in assists. So I really feel like I really fit with that. It’s going to be good.” The concern on Sochan is that he is not a prolific scorer, something the Spurs are hoping to address during the offseason. San Antonio is hoping he can fill a niche similar to Bruce Bowen’s when he played for Pop and the Spurs during his time in the Alamo City.
Pick Number 20
The Spurs 2nd pick and 20th overall was guard Malaki Branham out of Ohio State. Branham is a 6-5 guard who can score at the rim, from mid-range, and beyond the 3-point arc. Branham was the Big-10 Freshman of the Year, averaging 13.7 points, 3.6 boards, and two assists at Ohio State. Ohio State Chris Holtmann had this to say regarding Branham “He’s got a high ceiling as a player. He’s just tapping into what he can be, and I think that’s what people see at 19 from Malaki.” ESPN’s Jay Bilas called Branham a “steal” in the first round, according to si.com. San Antonio Spur Lonnie Walker IV is set to become a restricted free agent on July 1st, so this pick might signal that the team is unlikely to resign Walker.
Pick Number 25
The San Antonio Spurs selected Notre Dame guard Blake Wesley out of Notre Dame. The 6-5 Wesley averaged 14.4 points, 3.7 boards, and 2.4 assists during his one season at Notre Dame. Blake Wesley has the distinction of being the first-ever “one-and-done” at Notre Dame. Wesley is a project for the Spurs, who love his athleticism but want him to improve his 3-point accuracy. Wesley shot 30.3% from beyond the arc and his off-the-dribble shot, according to si.com, was 33.0% (38-115). Wesley was named to the ACC All-Rookie team and received 2nd-team All-ACC honors. The hope is that given time to develop in Popovich’s system, Wesley can become a Dejounte Murray-type player for San Antonio.
Pick Number 38
The San Antonio Spurs utilized the 38th pick to select Tennessee guard Kennedy Chandler. The Spurs traded Chandler to the Memphis Grizzlies for a 2024 second-round pick and “cash considerations.” The San Antonio Spurs issued the following statement regarding the trade “The San Antonio Spurs today announced that they have acquired a future second-round pick and cash considerations from the Memphis Grizzlies in exchange for the draft rights to Kennedy Chandler. “
Grading the Spurs Draft
The San Antonio Spurs did what the Spurs do. They drafted based on need, potential, and fit. They did not make a splash in the 2022 draft; they didn’t package their three first-round picks to try and move up in the draft. They made three quality first-round picks. They addressed a significant need in the frontcourt by drafting Jeremy Sochan and added scoring ability and three-point shooting with Malaki Branham. The Spurs picked up a bit of a project in guard Blake Wesley out of Notre Dame, but San Antonio is hoping to develop him into a versatile guard who can shoot from all three levels. Who better to develop a guard than Gregg Popovich? San Antonio addressed the team needs in the 2022 draft and will look to add depth in free agency. While their picks in the 2022 NBA draft were not flashy, they were essential to building a solid foundation for the Spurs. Final Draft Grade for the San Antonio Spurs (A-)