On a draft night that was as crazy and unpredictable as we’ve ever seen, at least one variable remained constant: the San Antonio Spurs drafted another international player. The Spurs selected French forward Livio Jean-Charles with the 28th overall pick of the 2013 NBA Draft Thursday night, keeping with their tradition of drafting and developing international talent.
Jean-Charles is young and raw, but undeniably talented. He has spent the past year playing limited minutes for the French team ASVEL, a club that also happens to be partially owned by Spurs guard Tony Parker. While Jean-Charles’ numbers from his limited playing time with ASVEL do not necessarily impress, he made his biggest splash this year at the Nike Hoop Summit.
Jean-Charles dominated the Summit, scoring 27 points and grabbing 13 rebounds, as the World team defeated Team USA. Jean-Charles displayed his ability to defend both forward positions, rebound, move well without the ball and finish at the rim at the Summit, impressing everyone and leading him to become a projected late-first to early-second-round pick at this year’s draft.
The main areas of improvement Jean-Charles needs to work on are his physical strength, ball-handling and the range on his jump shot. Being only 19, Jean-Charles needs to continue to fill out his 6-foot-9, 217-pound frame to be able to defend other forwards in today’s NBA. His ball-handling, which is shaky at best, could use some refinement if the Spurs plan to try him at small forward. And while Jean-Charles already possesses the ability to step out and hit the long range jump shot, he will need to become a more consistent three-point shooter if he is going to contribute at the NBA level.
As they often do, the Spurs will likely stash Jean-Charles for at least the upcoming season. This will give Jean-Charles more time to develop his game, and also give the Spurs more flexibility this offseason. The Spurs selection of Jean-Charles over players such as Jamaal Franklin or Allen Crabbe, whom likely would have made the Spurs roster for the 2013-14 season, gives the Spurs both more cap space and an extra roster spot to potentially pursue a big free agent this summer, as well as any number of their own.
So, while Spurs fans will likely not hear from Jean-Charles for at least a few years, they should be pleased with the Spurs’ selection of him, as it will likely pay off both in the present and in the future.