Friday, November 7, 2008

Toros Allocation and Draft

The NBDL draft is this evening, which means there is still time to make a popcorn run after work or get the gang together for a wild night at the local dive.

If you're a Spurs fan, the Toros matter. Yesterday Ridiculous Upside revealed the names of those players allocated or returning to the Toros this season. For more player information, you can point your browser here. It's a good group of minor league players, with at least one legitimate prospect in Malik Hairston, whom we wrote about last week.

If you've watched any Spurs games this season, you've noted the utterly sad decline of Michael Finley. The Spurs defense has been dreadful through 4 games, and the minutes allocated to Michael Finley are no small part of these woes. On some nights his offense rises to the level of passable, but his defense remains irredeemably inadequate. Over the summer he is said to have worked with Tim Glover on his lateral quickness, but the early returns suggest the drills didn't take.

Time has caught up with Michael Finley. There is no doubt that his professionalism, intelligence and locker room presence are still of great value to San Antonio, but his game is gone. The Spurs front office has undoubtedly already begun the process of finding his eventual bench replacement. Witness Roger Mason Jr. and the likes of campers Desmon Farmer and Malik Hairston. Still, the swing man porridge is a little thin.

Once Ginobili returns this is something of a moot issue. At that time, Finley will not play. Or, at least, he shouldn't play. A back court rotation of Parker-Hill, Mason Jr.-Ginobili is amongst the league's best. If the Spurs need offense from their 3, they'd do just as well to give Udoka the nod over Finley, and in doing so won't bite the bullet of defensive liability. But the problem remains for next season and is further compounded by the ages of Bowen and Udoka.

Enter the Austin Toros and Malik Hairston. Hairston has an outside chance of becoming a Spur next season, and precisely because he shows great defensive promise. The Toros are worth watching if for no other reason than to track the progress of Hairston. Currently, Hairston is limited offensively but boasts raw but capable defense. Will his offensive game develop enough for the Spurs to award him a roster spot? Is he a bust? We'll find our answer in the coming months.

Beyond this, the Toros should be very competitive. 7 players are assigned to the team, all of which have exposure to the Spurs system. Marcus Williams is an undersized pro, but a Matrix-like stat-stuffer in the minors. They return a combo guard in Squeaky Johnson and will feature training camp big Charles Gaines up front. All in all, a serviceable group of players.

In terms of tonight's draft, Sam Presti ruined it for me yesterday by signing Steven Hill to the Thunder. In my opinion, his shot blocking ability would have been ideal in Austin. But, alas, I'll have to find a way to pick up the pieces and move forward.

The Toros select last in the first and first in the second, at which point the better players should have been drafted. Nevertheless, if available, Jermareo Davidson could be a useful big with a plausible chance of making the Spurs roster. In terms of talent, but not necessarily of need, Derrick Byars and Gary Forbes are interesting possibilities. Returning to my theme of identifying a defensive small forward for the future, Forbes should be preferred over Byars. If the Toros were able to land one of these two to play in rotation with Williams and Hairston, they'd have three prospects to look at over the course of the season.

As I said above, if you're a Spurs fan you care about the Toros. That's also the case if you're an accountant. The Spurs cap situation next summer is limited to exception money and they're short on trade assets, with holes in their front line and at small forward. Finding a player in Austin is an admirable battle to win in the war of extending their championship window through 2012.

The first round of the draft is on NBATV, if you're interested.

(HT: ChumpDumper of SpursTalk for the links)

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