Draft Projection: No. 28: San Antonio Spurs
Notes: Insider Only
Positives: Insider Only
Negatives: Insider Only
Summary: June 26 Update: Gobert is the longest player in the draft and looks like he has the chance to be an imposing rim protector at the next level. The issue is a general lack of athleticism and questions about his long-term potential on the offensive end. He's a project, but maybe one worth taking.
Quick fact: Gobert averaged 1.08 points per play on post-ups, third among French league players (min. 25 plays).
June 25 Update: The Spurs need size and have never shied from taking international players. What Gobert lacks in athletic ability, he makes up with extreme length for his position. The Spurs also can stash him overseas if they need the cash.
June 18 Update: The Timberwolves will need depth in the middle, and while Gobert has been sliding steadily on draft boards the past few weeks, at this point in the draft he is a steal. Tim Hardaway Jr. and Cal's Allen Crabbe also are possibilities here.
June 10 Update: Gobert disappointed all of the GMs and scouts who traveled to Treviso, Italy, to see him at the Eurocamp after a bout of food poisoning kept him out. He's worked out for the Suns, Kings and Mavs and has a big workout scheduled with the Wolves this week. Opinions on Gobert couldn't be more mixed at the moment. While every team is intrigued with his size, length and ability to protect the rim, many teams feel like he is years away from playing in the NBA.
May 28 Update: Gobert measured with the longest standing reach -- 9-foot-7 -- of anyone in the history of the camp. However, poor athletic results tempered that somewhat. Although scouts love his ability to alter shots at the rim, there are major questions about how ready he is for the NBA.
May 15 Update: Gobert is among the confirmed participants at the combine, which is huge. He's likely to be the biggest draw of the camp. While many scouts and a handful of GMs have seen him in France or at last year's Eurocamp, this is everyone's first chance to see him next to the other big men in the draft. If he shows well here, his stock could really rise. If he struggles, it could plummet. There's a lot at stake for him.
May 8 Update (Projected No. 17 pick, Atlanta Hawks): Atlanta is in rebuilding mode and can afford to swing for the fences. Gobert's best attribute is a 7-foot-9 wingspan. He's played adequately in the French League this year, but he's still very much a work in progress. With most of the team heading into free agency, they need depth everywhere -- especially on the front line.
May 2 Update: Gobert is one of the two real international wild cards in the draft. Everyone loves his length and athletic ability. But everyone also has major questions about both his physical and mental maturity. If both improve? Then he's slotted too low. If they don't? He's slotted way too high given the players on the board beneath him who are surer bets. I could see a team like the Sixers or Mavs taking a swing on him in the lottery.
Apr 29 Update: If you could combine Saric's basketball acumen with Gobert's basketball body, you'd have the perfect player. Unfortunately, prospects rarely work out that way. While Gobert has the length and athletic ability of a NBA center, his game is still very much a work in progress.
Gobert made quite an impression at the Adidas Eurocamp last summer. Gobert measured a ridiculous 7-foot-9 wingspan and looked every part the lottery pick in the three days of drills. He also had a terrific outing against the Russian Under-20 team in Treviso, Italy.
Like Saric, his transition back into league play hasn't been ideal. He's averaging 8.1 PPG, 5.2 RPG and 1.5 BPG in the French League. Some NBA scouts still are very high on him. He's young, has all the physical tools to succeed and is slowly getting better on the court.
However, others walked away disappointed. They aren't so sure he isn't the next Mouhamed Saer Sene, another Eurocamp and Hoop Summit sensation who translated an extreme wingspan and a 15-point, nine-block game against Team USA in the 2006 Hoop Summit into a top-10 pick.
Gobert was ranked in our Top 10 earlier in the year and could still climb back there before the draft.
Apr 2 Update: Gobert is coming off one of his best games of the season against Roanne. He grabbed a season-high 10 rebounds, scored 10 points and blocked three shots in 28 minutes for Cholet. He is expected to declare for the draft and given his size and upside, should be in the same range as Withey and Saric.
Mar 26 Update: Gobert has been ranked ahead of Withey all season until one NBA scout made this poignant comment to me on Sunday: "Why would we draft a guy who might turn out to be as good as Jeff Withey ahead of Jeff Withey?" Point well taken.
Mar 13 Update: Gobert also isn't putting up numbers that should wow anyone. Unlike Saric, he isn't particularly skilled, nor does he have great basketball IQ. But his 7-foot-9 wing span and his shot-blocking abilities are drawing interest from scouts. He's a long way from being a productive NBA player, but, with a few more years in Europe, he could end up being a steal.
Feb 27 Update: Gobert is the other guy that will draw intense interest from NBA GMs over in Europe. He obviously hasn't been a dominant player in France this year. In fact, Saric is actually averaging more rebounds per game despite the fact that Gobert has an incredible 7-foot-9 wingspan. But NBA GMs love upside, and Gobert might be Europe's answer to Willie Cauley-Stein, a long, gangly big man blessed with athleticism and upside.
Jan 30 Update: Gobert is starting to play a bigger role on his team of late. He had 16 points and 6 boards in 20 minutes against Le Havre on Jan. 21, and followed with 9 points and 9 rebounds against Limoges on the 26th.
Jan 16 Update: Gobert was considered a potential top-5 pick after he showed up at the Adidas EuroCamp last spring with a crazy 7-foot-9 wingspan and had several strong performances in the games there. Alas, his game hasn't really taken off in France this season, and most of the scouts that have seen him have walked away frustrated with his lack of development.
Dec 7 Update: Noel has the most athletic tools of anyone at the top of the draft, but many scouts feel Gobert might be equally talented.
The early returns from France don't scream No. 1 pick. He is averaging 7 ppg, 4.5 rpg and 2 bpg in around 20 mpg for Cholet. But his play in last summer's Eurocamp, combined with some ridiculous measurements (7-1 with a crazy 7-9 wingspan) has teams intrigued.
Gobert's best attribute, like Noel, is his explosive leaping ability and mobility for a player his size.
Like Noel, Gobert is primarily a defensive presence at the moment. He is a dominant shot-blocker and a good rebounder. And like Noel, he needs to add a lot of strength and more offensive moves.
Why would a GM take Gobert over Noel -- especially when you factor in that Noel is playing huge minutes for Kentucky while Gobert is playing a supporting role in France?
"I wonder how big Noel really is," one GM said. "Gobert, on the other hand, is huge. Both guys are great athletes and defensive minded, so you have to ask if a couple of inches and four or five extra inches of wingspan make up the difference. In my mind, they might. No one has that sort of length in the NBA. That could be a game-changer."
June 14 Update: While Gobert was not in the camp, he competed for the French Under-20 team against the EuroCamp All-Stars. While already on NBA scouts' minds, he certainly left a favorable impression this week.
Gobert can run the court, possesses very good hands for a big man and a seemingly high motor. Although he has a limited low post game at the moment, he scores around the rim off offensive rebound put-backs and guard penetration passes.
With normal development this season in the French Pro A league, he seems to easily be heading for the first round and potentially the lottery next June. -- Fran Fraschilla