The Spurs own the 29th pick in the June 23 draft, one of the lowest slots of the Tim Duncan era. This year’s draft pool is considered to be uncommonly shallow, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Spurs either deal the pick or select a future prospect to stash overseas. Over the next few weeks, the Courtside blog will profile selected players who could be wearing silver and black, should the Spurs decide to keep their pick.
In the summer of 2009, Jeremy Tyler announced he would forgo his senior season to turn pro. Happens every year, right?
Except, in Tyler’s case, he gave up his senior season of high school, instead opting to play professionally in Israel for $140,000. He lasted just 10 games with Maccabi Haifa before returning home to San Diego.
After spending last season in Japan with the Tokyo Apaches, and at least completing a full season, Tyler is now eligible for the NBA draft. That’s where the Spurs, possibly, could come in.
Tyler is big, listed at 6-foot-11 (though he measured just 6-9 shoeless at last month’s combine), athletic and certainly fills the Spurs’ most glaring position of need in this year’s draft. He is also young — he turned 20 on June 1 — and has demonstrated hints of immaturity throughout his professional career. Most notably, in 2009, he was suspended for a game in Israel for head-butting an opponent. This didn’t help his stock, either.
Tyler averaged 9.9 points and 6.4 rebounds for the Apaches last season, but also averaged just 15.4 minutes. Those numbers don’t exactly scream “immediate NBA contributor.”
Still, size is at a premium in the NBA, as evidenced by the amount of money Eddy Curry has accumulated throughout his career. Someone will take a chance on Tyler, though for now he has been projected as a high second-round pick. At No. 29, the Spurs would have to reach to take him.
There is some precedent for a player skipping college to play overseas, then making a quick impact in the NBA. In 2009-10, Milwaukee’s Brandon Jennings went from the Italian Leagues to third in NBA Rookie of the Year balloting.
Some observers at last month’s draft combine compared Tyler to Ryan Richards, the teenage center from England the Spurs grabbed in the second round last season. With Richards already in the pipeline, and still likely a few years away from NBA consideration, the Spurs might not be in the mood to take on another big, young project.
Then again, there are worse things than owning the draft rights to multiple big, young projects.
In all likelihood, Tyler will be available when the Spurs hit the clock at No. 29. If other names on their list have already been selected, they could take a look at him.