Draft profile and the latest on Erazem Lorbek

By now most San Antonio Spurs fans already know about the George Hill trade. A second round pick by the Indiana Pacers (#46th overall) in 2005, Erazem Lorbek is part of the deal that sent Hill to the Pacers.

Erazem Lorbek might stay with Regal F.C. Barcelona next season.

Let’s get to know him better.

Lorbek is a 27 year old, 6-foot-10 big man that has skills and solid fundamentals.  He has a reliable jump shot off the dribble and good midrange jumper and has nice handles with both hands. He can run pretty well in transition and good footwork and knows how to use his body to take full advantage of his skills.

He also has very nice soft touch around the basket, sees the court very well, and have great passing skills for a big man. The pick and roll comes naturally to him, has good understanding of the game and has great basketball IQ. A clutch player and loves big games. He is very competitive.

However, Lorbek’s main limitation to play successfully in the NBA is his foot speed, really poor even for a player that tall. As good as he is, he will have trouble scoring against athletic matchups.

Defensively it gets even worse. Given the amount of quick power forwards in the NBA, his effectiveness is at best doubtful. Besides, Erazem is a soft player. He doesn’t like contact.  On the contrary, you might see him grabbing a rebound in traffic in the middle of the paint and stepping out to dribble instead of going towards the rim and looking for the basket.

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Getting to know Kawhi Leonard

When the dust finally settles, we see one Spur was traded to his hometown and then the San Antonio Spurs welcome four new players on draft day night.

Two of them (Davis Bertans and Adam Hanga) will probably stay overseas for the time being to further develop their game and skills, it could be worth the wait, both of them have great potential. One of them (Cory Joseph) will probably be Tony Parker’s backup next season.

The other is expected to add depth at small forward and provide an immediate impact next season. He is Kawhi Leonard.

Defense is Kawhi Leonard's calling card.

Leonard is a 6-foot-7 forward who played two seasons at San Diego State University. Last season he was a Second Team All-America selection by the Associated Press while leading the Aztecs to a school-record 34 wins and an appearance in the Sweet 16. He earned First Team All-Mountain West honors and was selected to the All-Mountain West Defensive Team.

For the season he averaged 15.5 points, 10.6 rebounds (ninth in the NCAA), 2.9 assists and 1.42 steals in 32.6 minutes and posted 23 double-doubles which ranked fourth in the NCAA.

He scored in double figures 33 times, including 20-plus in 10 games. He led the team in scoring 16 times, in rebounding 25 times and in assists 12 times.

As a freshman Leonard was named the Mountain West Freshman on the Year, earned All-MWC First Team honors and was named the MWC tournament MVP, becoming the only freshman in MWC history to earn first team all-conference honors.

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Spurs makes a good deal out of Hill

Kawhi Leonard is the main trade piece that made the Spurs send Hill to his hometown Indianapolis.

In a deal that constitutes the boldest draft-day move of their post-championship era, the San Antonio Spurs traded George Hill  a key rotation who coach Gregg Popovich once lauded as “my favorite player” to the Indiana Pacers for a package highlighted by Kawhi Leonard, a high-energy small forward the Pacers selected with the 15th overall pick.

Though the Spurs are intrigued by Leonard, who at 6-foot-7 gives the Spurs added size at a position where they were small, Buford made clear the night was bittersweet.

“This might have been one of the most difficult nights in Spurs history, as long as we’ve been here,” Buford said. “To lose a player like George Hill, who has meant so much to our team, to our culture, to our locker room … it’s one of the most difficult decisions we’ve had to make.”

The Spurs entered the offseason with the stated goal of regaining a defensive edge that had eluded them the previous few seasons. By trading for Leonard and using their own first-round pick, 29th overall, on defensive-minded Texas point guard Cory Joseph, draft night further underscored that intention.

Leonard averaged 15.5 points and 10.6 rebounds as a sophomore at San Diego State last season, but his value comes in his ability to guard multiple positions.

He was the cornerstone of an Aztecs team last season that rose to a top-5 national ranking.

“I don’t know if he’s a throwback to Bruce (Bowen),” Buford said, referring to a player widely viewed as the best defensive wing in club history. “But he led a team at SDSU that had little to no success and took them to one of the top rankings in the country.”

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Spurs drafts Adam Hanga at No. 59

The Spurs nabs Adam Hanga in the second round.

With 59th pick, the San Antonio Spurs selected athletic wing man Adam Hanga of Hungary.

Position: Shooting Guard

Height: 6-foot-7

Weight: 200 lbs.

Birth Date: 4/12/1989

Hanga is one of the lesser known international prospects in the draft. Playing his entire career in his native Hungary to this point, Hanga has garnered attention for his play with the Hungarian National Team and generated some buzz after showcasing his game in front of scouts at the EuroCamp a few weeks ago.

Standing a shade under 6’7 with a below average 6-7 ½ wingspan, Hanga has good height for a perimeter player at the NBA level, and matches it with impressive athleticism for a European prospect.

He has very good straight-line speed, a quick first step, and adequate leaping ability. His sub-200 pound frame does not limit him in the Hungarian League, but will be an area of interest if and when he makes the transition to the NBA and begins matching up with stronger players defensively and take contact offensively.

Hanga’s physical tools made him a dominant figure in the Hungarian League, where he essentially gave Albacomp an additional import-level talent. Seldom facing an athlete up to his standards in domestic play, Hanga was at his best around the basket and out in transition since he could get to the rim essentially whenever he wanted to and turn on the jets and win a footrace in the open floor virtually at will.

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Spurs picks Cory Joseph at No. 29

After trading George Hill to the Indiana Pacers, the San Antonio wasted little time in getting a backup point guard drafting University of Texas guard Cory Joseph as the 29th overall pick.

Cory Joseph is the Spurs' 2011 first round draft choice.

Joseph is a 19-year-old guard from Toronto, Canada. He averaged 10.4 points, 3.6 rebounds and 3.0 assists on 42.2 percent field goal shooting, including 41.3 percent from beyond the arc last season at Texas.

Let’s get to know him better.

He has ideal size for a point guard in the NBA, standing 6’3.25″ in shoes with a 6’5.5″ wingspan, a well-rounded athlete and has good speed with the ball in his hands. Solid strength with the frame to potentially add a little more muscle. Aggressive in transition, displayed good instincts and finishing ability.

Great perimeter shooting ability, a very natural spot-up shooter from mid to long-range. Adequate passing ability and he doesn’t turn the ball over a lot. Keeps his teammates involved, not a selfish player by any stretch and has a lot of room to improve.

Joseph is also a very solid defender with strong potential. Rick Barnes called him the best defensive guard he’s had, very solid person, impressive character.

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Kyrie Irving tops 2011 draft class

The wait is finally over. The Cleveland Cavaliers chose Kyrie Irving as the number one overall pick of the 2011 draft.

The 6-foot-2 Irving averaged 17.5 points while shooting 53 percent from the field, 46 percent from 3-point range and 90 percent from the foul line.

Irving is the No.1 overall pick of the 2011 NBA draft

He returned from his injury in time to play in the NCAA tournament — where his Blue Devils were overwhelmed by Derrick Williams in Arizona’s round of 16 victory — and he said that proves there should be no question about his health.

“Playing in the NCAA tournament was the deciding factor for me,” Irving said. “If I didn’t play in the NCAA tournament, I would have been back at Duke for my sophomore season. I just wanted to kind of limit all the questions on my health and durability.”

Williams was chosen as the second overall by the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Utah Jazz selected Enes Kanter of Turkey as the third overall.

Cleveland used the number four pick to nab forward Tristan Thompson and Jonas Valanciunas of Lithuania goes to the Toronto Raptors to round out the top 5 picks.

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Top 15 NBA draft sleepers

With the 2011 NBA draft scheduled on Thursday, Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports shared this list of 15 draft sleepers.

Klay Thompson

Klay Thompson, 6-7, 206 pounds, SF, Washington

Thompson is used to being overlooked. Washington State, hardly a college powerhouse, was the only Pac-10 Conference school to offer him a scholarship when he departed Santa Margarita (Calif.) Catholic High. And with Pac-10 games often on too late for East Coast viewers and the Cougars rarely featured, the most exposure the 6-foot-7, 206-pounder received was when Washington State got drilled 75-44 by Wichita State in the NIT semifinals in New York City.

But NBA scouts kept strong tabs on Thompson as he led the Pac-10 in scoring, averaging 21.6 points per game while nailing a single-season school-record 98 3-pointers. Several talent evaluators weren’t concerned about the citation that Thompson received for misdemeanor marijuana possession in March that led to a one-game suspension. Strong workouts have pushed him from a late first-round pick to as high as seventh with the Sacramento Kings.

“I’m 6-7, I can handle the ball, I can pass,” Thompson said. “I don’t need the ball in my hands to be effective. I can play off a great point guard as well. I can create my own shot and spot up. I can be an asset by the way I can space the floor as well as get to the line.”

The Kings, who worked Thompson out last Saturday, and Charlotte Bobcats, owners of the ninth overall pick, both have strong interest. Golden State is hopeful but doesn’t expect Thompson to be available when it drafts 11th.

The Warriors are so intrigued by Thompson that co-owner Joe Lacob, new coach Mark Jackson and the entire front office attended Friday’s workout. Warriors general manager Larry Riley continues to dismiss rumors that guard Monta Ellis is being shopped and likes the idea of a three-guard rotation with Thompson, Ellis and Stephen Curry.

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Draft Prospect: Keith Benson

With the 2011 NBA draft coming next week, Spurs World will continue to give updates on draft prospects the San Antonio Spurs might consider in the upcoming draft.

Keith Benson (34) goes for the put back.

Today’s draft prospect is Keith Benson.

Position: Power Forward/Center

Height: 6-foot-11

Weight: 220 lbs.

Birth Date: 8/13/1988

Stats: 17.9 ppg, 10.1 rpg, 1.1 apg, 57.4% FG, 64.3% FT, 39.1% 3FG

Benson is an excellent athlete particularly considering his size. He owns a big wingspan (7-foot-3) and appears to have a fair amount of room to improve.

He is great in the open floor, runs very well. Although his offensive skills are a work in progress, he is beginning to show nice development.

Has a solid jump hook, excellent touch on mid range shots, effectively uses the glass, completes a lot of ally oop dunks and shows nice touch and the ability to effectively use both hands around the basket.

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Should the Spurs trade up for Singleton?

One of the main aspects that the San Antonio Spurs need to improve on in the offseason is the small forward position and their interior and overall team defense.

Chris Singleton will be one of the most intriguing prospects in the 2011 NBA draft.

A lot of basketball observers and analyst believe that the upcoming draft is a shallow one, that means talent could be too few late in the first round going into the second.

With the number 29 pick that is not good news for San Antonio.

However, the Spurs are known to be one of the best teams in drafting “gems”.

They have built their team and become one of the most successful franchises in the NBA by reloading through the draft, picking players like Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker, George Hill, DeJuan Blair and Gary Neal late in the draft.

Nonethess, it is also interesting to see if the Spurs should move up in the draft to pick up a sure talent.

How about going for Chris Singleton?

Singleton is a small forward with terrific size and length for the position,  he is an explosive leaper and has next level athleticism and a very good player in transition, he runs the floor extremely hard and is able to finish plays above the rim in open lane situations.

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