Why Stephon Castle Getting Picked by the Spurs Looks Likely

While a lot could change in the next month as the 2024 NBA Draft approaches, a likely outcome as of right now appears to be the San Antonio Spurs selecting Stephon Castle with either their fourth or eighth overall selection. 

First of all, the profiles for Alexandre Sarr and Zaccharie Risacher have risen to the point that both Frenchmen are seemingly a lock to be drafted in the top three. In fact, it appears as if Sarr and Risacher will go No. 1 and No. 2.

Secondly, with the Houston Rockets drafting at No. 3, they’re likely in the market for a shooter — and hitting perimeter shots isn’t one of Castle’s strengths. 

And, finally, there are loud rumblings that Castle will refuse to hold workouts for teams that have an entrenched starting point guard in place. Of the teams drafting in the top eight, that consideration would eliminate all but two or three teams. Moreover, some scouts believe that Castle’s insistence on playing point guard is a not-so-subtle way of trying to make his way to San Antonio.

As mentioned, there’s still a lot more time before the draft. Many things could change — including Castle ending up in the top three picks. There’s even a chance that the point guard talk could turn off the Spurs. Trades, too, could shake things up; there is no guarantee that San Antonio will keep both of their lottery picks. But with June around the corner, Castle appears to be the most likely player in this draft to be selected by the Spurs. 

The Case for Drafting Stephon Castle

Looking at the 2024 draft through the lens of multi-skilled, multi-positional players who fit next to Victor Wembanyama, Castle is one of the few prospects who outwardly fits that criteria. As a freshman at UConn, he played next to 7-foot-3 center Donovan Clingan — and Castle’s chemistry with his towering teammate was clear. When making the call on whether to draft him, all the Spurs will need to do to see how he’d fit next to Wembanyama would be to turn on his college tape. 

Castle’s passing in the halfcourt was really good, especially considering he was a 6-foot-7 teenager. He processes the game quickly and makes high-low passes with ease. Castle is equally as good in transition at moving the ball. Overall, his playmaking at UConn wasn’t too surprising because he was his team’s lead facilitator in high school.

Beyond his passing, Castle drives to the hoop with power and isn’t timid about finishing amongst the trees. His ball-handling is a plus for someone his height and his age. His off-ball cutting is also advanced.

Where Castle shines even brighter is on the defensive end of the court. He has the footspeed and the anticipation to defend on the ball. Even though he’s only 19, he’s really strong and rarely gets bumped out of position. Off the ball, he remains attentive and reads what the opposition is attempting to accomplish. Castle’s rate of rebounds and blocks were impressive — and those rates seemed to rise during key moments.

As far as intangibles are concerned, Castle’s willingness and ability to play a winning role as UConn cruised to a championship is certainly noteworthy. He rarely tried to do too much (as evidenced by his high assist-to-turnover ratio) and his two-way play was a leading reason for why his college team was so dominant. 

The Case Against Drafting Stephon Castle

Any criticism of Castle must begin with his three-point shooting and lack thereof. He hit only 26.7% of his threes as a freshman at UConn. Combing through the stats of his entire basketball playing life, there was never a point in which he hit three-pointers at an acceptable clip.

Castle’s jumper doesn’t look fluid and he doesn’t have much confidence in it. A few teams took advantage of that and didn’t guard him when he was behind the three-point arc. While it was definitely good news that Castle’s free throw percentage climbed as UConn’s season progressed and that he finished the season at 75.5% at the charity stripe, his perimeter shooting is a glaring question mark when evaluating him as a prospect.

Scoring-wise, Castle doesn’t appear to be working with many high-level tools. He’s not supremely fast or athletic when judging him against the type of players he’ll be facing in the NBA. There are hints of upside as a scorer but the most likely scenario is he’ll be best suited as a third or fourth option.

The analytic models aren’t overly optimistic about Castle; he grades out as a mid-to-late first round pick in most of the models I’ve looked at behind the scenes. What he did at UConn translated to winning but his numbers are much more pedestrian compared to someone like Reed Sheppard. And speaking of winning, it should be noted that UConn also won a championship the year before Castle arrived — so that takes at least a little bit of shine away from the winning part of the evaluation.

Last but not least, Castle’s reported insistence on playing point guard is likely not a plus in his corner from San Antonio’s perspective. Pairing Wembanyama with a point guard who isn’t known for shooting sounds like spacing problems waiting to happen. 

Stephon Castle’s Fit on the Spurs

Castle might want to play point guard but I’d see him as a secondary playmaker in San Antonio. His defense would likely win him minutes right away. He could even begin the year in the starting lineup between Devin Vassell and Jeremy Sochan. 

Shooting, though, could delay those plans. Castle and Sochan in a starting lineup can’t work if the other team is able to ignore both players when parked behind the three-point arc. Add Tre Jones in the starting lineup and things would get muddy very fast. 

Final Thoughts on the Spurs Drafting Stephon Castle

Right now, I think Castle is the most likely player in the draft to be picked by the Spurs. It makes a lot of sense on a variety of levels, with Castle’s fit next to Wembanyama being at the top of the list. Wembanyama, Castle and Vassell would be an intriguing Young Three going forward.

Castle’s lack of three-point shooting concerns me but, then again, if he could shoot, he’d be the no-brainer choice at the very top of the draft. As it is, the rest of what he brings to the table is valuable enough to pick him and then hope that he eventually learns to shoot it straight. 

Plus, as fate would have it, Castle’s father was Tim Duncan’s teammate at Wake Forest. That should count for something, right?