Since our starting center is set to miss some time with a broken finger, I thought we'd take a quick look at the frontcourt prospects on the Austin team. There's no word yet when or if any of these guys are going to be called up, so take this as a preview of some of the faces we could
see in the next few weeks. _______________________________________________
Austin doesn't have any true/full-time centers on the roster, so we have to look at size qualifications instead, and by that metric, 28-year-old Charles Garcia
has the most goods at 6'10", 230.
Obviously, he has the size to play the 5, especially with the proliferation of small-ball in the league, but I wouldn't count on seeing him make the drive down 35 to SA. In six years of post-college action, Garica's played for 15(!) teams across multiple leagues in eight different countries, and his tour with Austin is his first American action in four years. The scouting report on Garcia coming out of college wasn't glowing, casting him as something of a black hole on offense and an undisciplined defender (though a solid rebounder).
In short, though he brings the most size, he probably lacks the discipline and on-floor IQ to be worth anything more than cleanup duty for the Spurs._______________________________________________Maurice Bolden
brings similar size potential with his 6'10" frame and long wing-span, but his 205 pounds won't be enough to power him against many bigs in the league, and if we do
see him get the call, it'll be to run minutes at the 4 while one of our rotation PFs mans the 5.
Besides lacking girth, Bolden lacks experience, having only finished college at Southern Miss last season (though he did
spend a little time playing internationally in Canada and England prior to playing for the Golden Eagles). Scouting gives him something of a finesse game, and he's logged time at the 2, 3, and 4 in his various stops, but while that versatility definitely plays into the Spurs' style, the green behind his ears means that he likely won't get a call, and if he does, it'll be to give us a practice body. _______________________________________________
This brings us to the guy I think is most likely to see consideration: 6'9", 218-pound Cory Jefferson
. Jefferson is the only Austin big to have seen NBA action, playing 58 total games between Brooklyn and Phoenix over the last two seasons. He brings a fair amount of size, with good athleticism and explosive 'verticality', and has shown a penchant for screen-setting and boxing out, which suggests a willingness to do the 'little things' that Pop obviously finds endearing and valuable in prospects.
He needs to improve his versatility on the scoring side, but he was a solid shot-blocker at Baylor and the fact that he's added to his game over the course of his college and pro careers demonstrates a willingness to work at getting better, and that combined with his NBA experience gives him the edge if we look to Austin for help._______________________________________________
Don't forget about Livio Jean-Charles
, either. The only Austin 'big' (semi-big?) we drafted, the 6'9" 217-pounder ran a handful of preseason games before being cut due to lack of production.
Despite his underwhelming production in summer-league and preseason play, though, Pop and his staff may decide to revisit the promise that made Jean-Charles a first-round draft pick. He's a tweener who could contribute at either forward spot. He's a hustle guy and someone with a reasonably good feel for how to use his athleticism, but more than anything else, he's an active body to fill some frontcourt minutes. Most pertinently, he'll have a little bit of a feel for the system, due to his brief time with the team earlier this season._______________________________________________
Since any call-up will only be to fill in blanks, not to give the team another project, I like Jefferson over Jean-Charles as the most probable D-Leaguer to get a call-up. He's more experienced in the league, and his more robust physicality and toughness, combined with his skillset being less redundant than Jean-Charles' relative to our roster, makes him a better candidate for plug-in duty in Gasol's stead. Do you have any insight or observations about any of these players? If so, please share your thoughts!