Should the Spurs Pick Reed Sheppard in the Lottery?

The San Antonio Spurs have two selections in the lottery — the fourth and eighth overall picks. The 2024 NBA Draft is considered weak and it specifically lacks reliable shooting prospects at the top. For those reasons, there’s no question that the Spurs will be tempted to select Reed Sheppard at both No. 4 and No. 8 if he’s available — despite a few worrisome considerations. 

The Case for Drafting Reed Sheppard

To say that Sheppard’s numbers during his one year at Kentucky were impressive would be a massive understatement. His statistics were so mind-blowingly awesome that every analytics-based model I’ve seen has Sheppard’s name at the top of the list.

The first thing that stands out is his shooting. Sheppard hit 52.1% from three-point range, 53.6% from the field and 83.1% at the free throw line. He also averaged 4.5 assists in 28.9 minutes per game while limiting his turnovers.

Sheppard’s amazing numbers don’t end there. His stats on the other end of the court were arguably even more impressive. His steal rate was absurdly high, he blocked shots by the bushel and he also rebounded really well — all while posting a low foul rate.

Just looking at the numbers, Sheppard has a convincing argument that he should be a top five pick in this draft. On paper, he looks like a dead-eye shooter who will also be a playmaker on the defensive end of the court.

Watching his film, there is even more to like. Sheppard is a good passer who sees the floor really well and processes the game at lightning speed. The 42-inch vertical leap he posted at the combine wasn’t surprising because it’s clear that he’s a legitimate run-and-jump athlete who uses his hops advantageously on both ends of the court. 

The Case Against Drafting Reed Sheppard

While nobody jumped higher than Sheppard at the combine, some of his other measurements weren’t as flattering. The most concerning measurement was his standing reach of 7-foot-9.5. To put that number in perspective, Patty Mills had a standing reach of 7-foot-11. Current Spurs Tre Jones and Devonte’ Graham boast a standing reach of at least 8-feet.

Sheppard being stubbier than Mills, Jones and Graham is a tough fact to swallow when thinking about drafting him in the lottery. Yes, he can jump high and he’s blessed with advanced instincts — but in today’s NBA where teams search for mismatches to exploit, Sheppard’s lack of length will become a nightly target.

At 6-foot-2 with a wingspan of 6-foot-3, it appears likely that Sheppard will need to be a point guard in order to find success in the league. Unfortunately, judging him against current NBA point guards, he’s below average as a ball-handler and average as a passer. Sheppard would need to improve quite a bit in both categories to become a full-time point guard at the next level. Defensively, it’s highly questionable whether he has the lateral quickness to stick with point guards. 

Sheppard’s age is worth nothing. He turns 20 a couple days after the draft, which makes him one of the oldest players who is currently getting lottery buzz.

Finally, the way Sheppard’s college experience ended has to be mentioned. In the first round of the tournament, he looked overwhelmed by the moment and made a number of uncharacteristic mistakes. Sheppard’s poor play was a leading cause of Kentucky’s early exit.

Reed Sheppard’s Fit on the Spurs

If the Spurs draft Sheppard in the lottery, that would surely mean the franchise views him as the team’s point guard of the future. I don’t hate the idea. In fact, the reasoning would be clear.

With Victor Wembanyama in the fold, you want a point guard who can space the floor and reliably make the right decisions. Sheppard’s shooting accuracy would do wonders for San Antonio’s spacing. And while he lacks in ball-handling and defensive quickness, Wembanyama has the tools to cover up those deficiencies.

If the Spurs draft Sheppard, I’d expect the coaching staff to give him the reins to the team early on. He’s an advanced prospect who is going to be ready to play his role early in his rookie campaign. 

Final Thoughts on the Spurs Drafting Reed Sheppard

The Spurs selecting Sheppard would be a bit of a surprise. This organization has valued length, youth and untapped upside in recent drafts. Sheppard’s college marksmanship and readiness to play right away aren’t typically what the Spurs have valued when drafting.

Then again, the theoretical fit of Sheppard next to Wembanyama would be exciting. His shooting, smarts and defensive activity would instantaneously help the team now and then any growth he makes as a point guard would be icing on the cake down the road. Is that potential package enough to warrant picking Sheppard in the lottery? We can only wait and see what the Spurs decide — but it will surely be tempting.