How Joshua Primo, the youngest player and biggest surprise of the 2021 NBA Draft, can fit in with the Spurs

With marked developments in scouting networks across the globe, extra knowledge than ever earlier than and a relentless stream of stories about what groups are considering, there are few actual surprises within the NBA Draft anymore. A participant would possibly go a bit increased or decrease than anticipated, however the house run swings out of nowhere are a lot much less frequent than they had been in years previous. 

We acquired one this summer time, nevertheless, when the San Antonio Spurs chosen Joshua Primo — the youngest participant within the draft — out of the College of Alabama with the No. 12 general choose. None of our three experts at CBS Sports activities had Primo within the first spherical on their mock drafts, not to mention the lottery, and even Primo admitted he was shocked he went so excessive. 

“Going that top wasn’t one thing that I used to be — I do not know if I used to be prepared for that,” Primo said at his draft social gathering. “I did not understand it was going to be that top. However I am glad it is with the Spurs. I’ve at all times wished to be a Spur. I instructed my agent once I first acquired into this course of, ‘That is the place I wish to be.’ And it ended up understanding that means, so it was nice.”

In 30 video games at Alabama, Primo averaged 8.1 factors and three.4 rebounds, whereas taking pictures 43.1 % from the sphere and 38.1 % from downtown. Most analysts noticed the choose as a attain, and it was extensively thought to be one of many worst of the draft. CBS Sports activities’ Gary Parrish gave it a C+, which was tied for his worst grade of the primary spherical. 

“That is the most important attain of the draft to this point,” Parrish wrote on draft night. “However Primo is barely 18, and he’s a shooter. Even so, I might in all probability go a decrease grade if this had been a special franchise than San Antonio. He merely has not had the monitor report of different prospects nonetheless out there by way of his manufacturing in faculty. It is not what I might have performed, however we’ll should see the way it performs out.”

So why did the Spurs go all-in on Primo? Let’s take a better have a look at his lone faculty season with the Crimson Tide and his first few summer time league outings. 


On the offensive finish, Primo’s standout talent in faculty was his taking pictures. He shot 38.1 % on 3-point makes an attempt final season, and was one of the environment friendly spot-up gamers within the nation. His 1.222 factors per possession on these performs put him within the 93rd percentile, per Synergy Sports activities. 

As a younger freshman on a veteran Alabama workforce, Primo was understandably not a main offensive choice, and principally frolicked within the nook or on the wing as a flooring spacer. He took to that position properly, because of his fast launch and the truth that he was at all times able to shoot: 

One other spectacular facet of Primo’s taking pictures was his vary. He was prepared and capable of launch from properly behind the school line, and shouldn’t have any hassle transitioning to the longer professional distance: 

When he tried to place the ball on the deck, issues acquired just a little shaky. Sometimes he would make these tremendous spectacular drives that actually caught your consideration, largely due to his spectacular physique management within the air: 

Nonetheless, in basic younger participant trend, he was simply as prone to try to do means an excessive amount of. Whether or not it was barreling into the ready protection or flipping up a really ridiculous shot try, he appeared to typically assault the basket with no plan: 

San Antonio clearly believes there’s extra to his sport than simply taking pictures, nevertheless, as practically 60 % of his offensive possessions in summer time league have been because the pick-and-roll ball handler. Very like in faculty it has been hit and miss when he tries to get to the rim, however he has flashed some easy pull-up taking pictures off the dribble: 

By way of playmaking there actually wasn’t an entire lot occurring in faculty since he was principally a spot-up shooter. And when he did look to create, it was normally for himself. He completed the season with 25 assists and 41 turnovers in 30 video games. On the uncommon events he did attempt to facilitate, it was fairly just like his personal shot creation. There have been some moments of brilliance that caught your eye, however various baffling selections blended in. 

However on the mix Primo impressed together with his playmaking, and in his first few summer time league video games with the Spurs he has had the ball in his fingers much more. That means the Spurs are going to try to develop these abilities. Thus far, nevertheless, it has been just a little tough. The concepts are there, however he simply hasn’t been executing the passes. In two video games he already has 9 turnovers. 


Primo has an opportunity to be a really stable perimeter defender. Bodily, he measured 6-foot-5 in sneakers on the mix with a 6-foot-9 wingspan, so he has the dimensions and size to protect a number of positions. 

When he is guarding the ball he strikes his toes properly and does job shutting off driving lanes. He is additionally just a little bit stronger than he would possibly look and simply is not simple for opponents to get previous. Maybe most significantly, he defends with out fouling. In faculty he solely had 50 fouls in 674 minutes of motion. 

Off the ball, you’ll be able to actually get a way of his agility. Though he is an even bigger guard, he has no drawback chasing guys round and navigating screens. With taking pictures turning into an even bigger and larger a part of the sport, that is going to be a invaluable talent on the subsequent stage. 

Clearly this is not to say that Primo is ideal on that finish, however there actually is lots to love for such a younger participant. 


It is simple to grasp why everybody thought-about this choose a attain. Primo wasn’t even the very best participant on his personal workforce in faculty, and in the event you had been simply rating gamers on this class by a mix of expertise and readiness for the NBA on draft night time, there is not any likelihood Primo would have checked in at No. 12. 

On the identical time, you’ll be able to perceive what the Spurs had been considering. To win on this league you want taking pictures and protection on the perimeter, and Primo checks each of these containers. He was additionally the youngest participant within the draft, and potential is at all times engaging. If he had stayed in faculty, there is a good likelihood he would have been a projected lottery choose subsequent yr, and that is clearly a guess that he has a couple of extra ranges he can attain. 

We in all probability will not know for positive if it was a good suggestion till a couple of years from now, however you’ll be able to’t completely fault a workforce with a confirmed monitor report of participant growth taking a swing with a late lottery choose. | How Joshua Primo, the youngest participant and largest shock of the 2021 NBA Draft, can slot in with the Spurs


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