The last pick
in the first round of the 2001 draft belongs to
the team with the best record this year, the San
Antonio Spurs. Their GM is Jason
Able who selects:
Hassell, SG, 6'5", Austin Peay
I. Season Overview
The Spurs ensured themselves of a successful 2000/01 season when they re-signed Tim Duncan before the season started. He was the most sought after free agent on the market and the key to the franchise. Teaming up with David Robinson to once again form a front line of "Twin Towers", they were joined by new acquisitions in Derek Anderson and Danny Ferry. Sean Elliot returned and played a full season after recovering from kidney problems last year. The Spurs cruised to the best record in the league (58-24), and finished tied for the best record at home (33-8) and had the 2nd best road record behind only Philly. They dispatched the Wolves and Mavs with ease in the first two rounds of the playoffs, but then slammed into a runaway freight train known as the Los Angeles Lakers in the conference finals. Their bid for a 2nd championship in 3 years was halted as they were swept aside by Shaq & Co. in 4 games.
- Derek Anderson - SG
2000/01 Salary: $2,250,000.00
KEY STATS: 15.5 ppg, 4.4 reb, 3.7 ast, .851 FT%
- Antonio Daniels - G
2000/01 Salary: $2,820,000.00
KEY STATS: 9.4 ppg, 2.1 reb, 3.8 ast, .404 3pt%
- Sean Elliot - SF
2000/01 Salary: $5,300,000.00
KEY STATS: 7.9 ppg, 3.3 reb, 1.6 ast, .426 3pt%
- Tim Duncan - F/C
2000/01 Salary: $9,660,000.00
KEY STATS: 22.2 ppg, 12.2 reb, 3.0 ast, 2.3 blks
- Danny Ferry - F
2000/01 Salary: $1,200,000.00
KEY STATS: 5.6 ppg, 2.8 reb, 0.9 ast, .449 3pt%
- Jaren Jackson - G/F
2000/01 Salary: $1,750,000.00
KEY STATS: 2.4 ppg, 0.8 reb, 0.4 ast (injured).
- Avery Johnson - PG
2000/01 Salary: $8,000,000.00
KEY STATS: 5.6 ppg, 1.5 reb, 4.3 ast
- Steve Kerr - G
2000/01 Salary: $2,200,000.00
KEY STATS: 3.3 ppg, 0.6 reb, 1.0 ast, .429 3pt%
- Terry Porter - PG
2000/01 Salary: $2,200,000.00
KEY STATS: 7.2 ppg, 2.5 reb, 3.1 ast, .424 3pt%
- David Robinson - C
2000/01 Salary: $14,700,000.00
KEY STATS: 14.4 ppg, 8.6 rpg, 1.5 apg, 2.5 blks
- Malik Rose - F
$2000/01 Salary: 2,570,000.00
KEY STATS: 7.7 ppg, 5.4 reb, 0.8 ast
- Samaki Walker - PF
2000/01 Salary: $2,960,000.00
KEY STATS: 5.3 ppg, 4.0 reb, 0.5 ast
- #24 Dwayne Schintzius (Florida)
- #43 Tony Massenburg (Maryland)
- #54 Sean Higgins (Michigan)
- #49 Greg Sutton (Oral Roberts)
- #18 Tracy Murray (UCLA) - Traded to Portland via Milwaukee
- #44 Henry Williams (UNC-Charlotte)
- #22 Bill Curley (Boston College)
- #29 Corey Alexander (Virginia)
- #1 Tim Duncan (Wake Forest)
- #24 Felipe Lopez (St. John's)
- #52 Derrick Dial (Eastern Michigan)
- #29 Leon Smith (King HS-Chicago) - Traded to Dallas
- #57 Emmanuel Ginobili (Italy)
- #41 Chris Carrawell (Duke)
- #54 Cory Hightower (Indian Hills Community College, Iowa) - Traded to Lakers
David Robinson has been one of the best big men in the league for over a decade and will rank among the game's best ever when he finally decides to retire. He is a free agent this year, but barring some unforeseen problems with the organization, I think it is safe to say he will retire as a Spur. What the "Admiral" brings to the table is leadership and incredible skills for his size. He has always been considered one of the best defenders in the league and compliments that with a variety of offensive moves around the basket as well as a silky smooth 15-ft jumper. Age is catching up to Robinson and his skills are not what they used to be, but he is still among the upper echelon of NBA centers.
The other All-Star in San Antonio's front court is of course
Tim Duncan. Duncan was one of the most sought after college players in recent years and the Spurs must have thought they were dreaming when they won the lottery and had the opportunity to draft him 4 years ago. Duncan is one of the best Power Forwards in the league, but can easily be shifted to play in the middle if required. He possesses an uncanny ability to hit the bank shot (a lost art in today's NBA) in addition to a variety of hook shots and has decent range. He is an almost unstoppable force in the paint, and a great rebounder and shot-blocker, although his game is more finesse than power. He had injury problems during last year's playoffs, but those appear to be behind him now. He had a healthy and dominant return during this year's regular season and playoffs (well, at least until running into a monster named Shaq!) and he should continue to be one of the game's major attractions for years to come.
A key acquisition for the Spurs this year was
Danny Ferry. He was a perfect fit for the Spur's system. A deadly accurate 3-pt shooter (45%) that thrived when left open on the perimeter. Not good enough or quick enough to create his own shot, but having the huge inside presence of the "Twin Towers" allows him to get open shots when the ball is kicked back to him. Besides his long range shooting, he gives the team very little else. Ferry was drafted out of Duke with the potential of being "the next Larry Bird" but did not live up to those lofty expectations. He had a solid, but unspectacular career in Cleveland and is a one-dimensional player that had what could probably be considered a career year this year.
Sean Elliot has been the mainstay at SF for the Spurs for most of the past decade, but kidney problems have limited his effectiveness and he is sadly on the downside of his career. He has contemplated retirement as a result of his health problems and his future with the Spurs seems uncertain. When healthy, he gives the team a reliable shooter with some athleticism and the ability to hit the big shot (as seen in the Spurs' playoff run two years ago).
Malik Rose is the kind of player every team needs. A guy with limited skills that is tough as nails and willing to do all the dirty work. A good rebounder that can play either forward position.
Samaki Walker has to be considered a minor bust after being a lottery pick of the Mavs in 1996. Injuries have hampered his career so far, but he has shown flashes of great potential and is an energetic young player capable of making a solid contribution as a backup to Duncan when needed.
Derek Anderson was exactly the kind of player the Spurs needed this year. He's an athletic slasher that can play some D and fit in perfectly with the "Twin Towers". Sean Elliot has always been a solid complimentary player, but DA gives the Spurs their first legit potential all-star as a third option behind the big two. Anderson was sidelined during the start of this year's playoffs, and was ineffective against Kobe upon returning early from his injury. He is an essential ingredient in San Antonio's future success.
Avery Johnson has been a reliable floor leader for the Spurs in the past few years. His skills and leadership abilities were questioned until he managed to lead the Spurs to a championship in 1999. It now appears that his best years are behind him as he settles into his role as a solid veteran bench player.
Antonio Daniels came over to the Spurs as a player that never reached anything close to his potential in Vancouver (drafted 4th overall). He has found new life in Texas and has about as much athletic ability as any PG in the league. Has unbelievable leaping ability, and his shot has improved immensely, but is still not a reliable floor general. He must continue to improve as a pure PG and learn to make his teammates better. The pure PGs like John Stockton and Mark Jackson seem to be a dying breed and Antonio appears to be part of the new wave of players with a PG's body and shooter's mentality.
Terry Porter and Steve Kerr are two more veteran players the Spurs rely on for their leadership and shooting touch. Both have limited skills, although Porter can still handle the ball well enough to still be an effective backup point guard, and at this stage in their careers both are role players at best. This team is the perfect fit for both players, as the presence of the two stars up front allows them to hit open shots in the right situations.
Jaren Jackson had an injury plagued season after enjoying some success in previous years with the Spurs. He was a valuable contributor to the championship team a couple of years ago. He can knock down the trey with regularity and is more of a physical presence than Kerr or Porter at the 2-guard.
Coaching / Management
Gregg Popovich is both coach and GM and has done a great job with both positions. He guided the team to the league's best record once again and made some key off-season moves that solidified the future success of the Spurs (not the least of which was convincing Duncan to resign). Popovich also managed to re-sign Avery Johnson and Antonio Daniels and essentially managed to keep the entire core of the Spurs intact. Did not have much to work with in the draft and ended up waiving their only pick from last year (Chris Carawell). Despite having his team get slaughtered by the Lakers, he appears to be very secure in both positions at the current time, and he has been given the green light from ownership to get them back to contention. However, if the Spurs fall flat on their face again next year, Pop might be looking for a new job.
San Antonio must continue to get younger and more athletic if it hopes to stay near the top of the league for years to come. The Spurs have 6 players with guaranteed contracts (Duncan, Daniels, Porter, Jaren Jackson and Steve Kerr). Malik Rose has until July 1st to exercise his Free agent option. The team holds an option on Samaki Walker, which they have until July 1st to exercise. Beyond those 8 players, the Spurs could be sitting anywhere from $11 million to $15 million under the cap. Getting a replacement for the aging Robinson is a need the team should start to address soon. Robinson is a free agent and will be asked to take a pay cut to accommodate some of the younger players the Spurs would like to re-sign (i.e. Derek Anderson). Duncan could comfortably make a shift to the middle, but then a quality replacement needs to be found at PF. Walker is not a top notch PF at this point in his career, but with continued improvement, could step into that role in a couple of years. Sean Elliot's impending departure means that the Spurs need to look at adding a serious SF to compliment the two all-stars up front, and may make a real trade to grab one. Several capped out teams are looking at ducking the luxury tax, and the Spurs if managed properly may be in a position to add without subtracting. Re-signing Derek Anderson, or at least a player of similar ability, is essential. Anderson has told the media he would like to return, but has made it clear that business needs to be taken care of, specifically a contract close to his open market value. Avery Johnson does not fit into the Spurs long-term plans on the court, but will probably be brought back at less than value with the promise of a future within the Spurs front office. While the team hopes Antonio Daniels can grow into the role of being a solid leader at PG, getting an upgrade at that spot might also be something the Spurs might want to look at. The Spurs will need to focus on free agents, as the draft will likely be of little use to the Spurs in addressing these needs. The best they can hope for in the 28th spot is a young player with lots of future potential, so don't expect the team to select anyone that can contribute right away.
Hassell, SG, 6'5", Austin Peay
With the 28th pick in the draft, the Spurs select Trenton Hassell from Austin Peay. It comes as somewhat of a surprise that he was still available this late in the 1st round. Hassell gives the Spurs exactly what they need: a young athletic swingman to backup Anderson, or eventually take over for Elliot at SF if necessary. He is extremely athletic, can create his own shot, and fits perfectly into the Spurs' system because he can hit the long-range bombs when needed. San Antonio's bench is aging fast (i.e. Kerr and Porter) and needs a welcome infusion of youth and athleticism. The downside to picking Hassell is that he has not played against top-notch competition up to this point (the Ohio Valley Conference!), but he has all the tools to be a solid NBA player.
Other Players Considered
Ken Johnson - An athletic big man that can block shots with the best of them and learn from two of the best in Duncan and Robinson.
Samuel Dalembert - Similar to Johnson. Both players are much more advanced on the defensive end, with their offensive game needing a lot of work!
Steven Hunter - The most intriguing big prospect of the bunch and probably the one with the most up-side. Still very raw, but his athletic ability and height could be very attractive for a team picking this low.
Jeff Trepagnier - A good prospect at SG, but not as polished as Hassell and therefore more of a risk.
Rashard Phillips - The best PG still remaining on the board. A possibility, especially if the Spurs lose Avery Johnson, but is not the best player available at this spot. Should only be considered if trying to fill a desperate need at PG.
The best player available! This seems like the best strategy for any team with the last pick in the 1st round. I think Hassell will be gone by the time the Spurs make their pick, so I expect them to grab one of the remaining big men (Ken Johnson, Alvin Jones, Jason Collins, Steven Hunter, or Samuel Dalembert).