The San Antonio Spurs and head coach Gregg Popovich have certainly and successfully mined Argentina for some unheralded or under-the-radar talent before, and a new report indicates the perennial title contender is looking to repeat that success.
As veteran Manu Ginobili enters what could be his final NBA season, the Spurs' backcourt depth could become a pressing issue. San Antonio already signed swingman Patricio Garino earlier this summer after he went undrafted out of George Washington in the Atlantic 10, but more help may be needed.
According to ESPN’s Marc Stein, the Spurs are trying to lure Argentinean point guard Nicolas Laprovittola following some solid performances at the Rio Olympics earlier this month.
The 26-year-old, who played in Spain’s ACB league for Estudiantes last season, helped Argentina post a 3-3 record in the Olympic tournament and reach the quarterfinals before falling to the United States. Standing at 6-foot-3 and 195 pounds, Laprovittola averaged 8.2 points and totaled 16 assists and five steals over six games. However, he did struggle against the U.S., going 1-for-6 for five points and two assists while committing four turnovers.
Laprovittola shot 14-for-40 overall and 7-for-21 from three-point range during the Games, but he’s a well-built, powerful guard who could defend at the NBA level. Furthermore, in two seasons with Brazil’s Flamengo, he shot better than 45 percent from three-point range.
Given his playmaking ability and Tony Parker’s advanced age, 34, it’s possible Laprovittola could even see some time at point guard if the Spurs sign him.
Currently, San Antonio sends out Australia’s Patty Mills, who had a spectacular Olympics and helped his nation reach the semifinals with 21.3 points per game, with rookies Dejounte Murray and Ryan Arcidiacono next up on the depth chart. At the two-guard spot, sharpshooter and solid perimeter defender Danny Green started 79 games last season with Ginobili the reserve and second-year guard Jonathon Simmons next up.
Popovich often doesn’t give younger players a heavy workload so it’s highly unlikely he’ll give Murray or Arcidiacono regular roles next season. And last year Popovich carefully monitored Ginobili’s, as well as now-retired big man Tim Duncan’s, time on the court at a career-low 19.6 minutes a game.
Based off the highlights from Argentina’s victory over Mexico last year, Laprovittola has the handle to cut up defenders and get into the lane like Parker but also shows Ginobili’s shooting touch.