While not the most popular player on the roster, Joe Wieskamp has the makings of a typical San Antonio Spurs star. Used to picking late in the first and second round, Gregg Popovich has usually found hidden gems with those low picks, so they sure hope Wieskamp, who went 41st overall in the 2021 NBA Draft, joins that list of success stories.
A 6’7’’ shooting guard with a big frame and 6’11’’ wingspan, Joe Wieskamp will have some work to do to crack a spot in San Antonio’s rotation.
He was a standout for the Iowa Hawkeyes thanks to his shooting and rebounding and is considered one of Iowa’s best NBA players in activity, so, clearly, the upside and talent are there.
So, what can he actually contribute to the Spurs as they head toward a transition era? Is he the guy they need right now and more importantly, does he stand a realistic chance at significant playing time next season? Let’s break it down.
Spurs Get A Shooter
Gregg Popovich has always preferred an old-school, low-tempo offense. However, there’s always that signature sharpshooter to lean on when the game is on the line, and that’s where Wieskamp can be valuable. Of course, he doesn’t have the defensive skills of, say, Danny Green or Bruce Bowen, but he could still prove to be valuable.
Wieskamp is one of the best shooters in his class, improving his three-point percentages every season in college. He was a career 41.2% three-point shooter in NCAA basketball and shot 46.2% overall in his final year in college.
41.2% of his threes for his career at Iowa and 46.2% on career-high volume this past season. Those numbers translated well to the G-League, where he averaged 17.1 points per game on a 57.9% effective field goal percentage and a true shooting percentage of 61.1%. He shot nearly 48% from the floor and 40% from beyond the arc.
Also, he was a 50.7% shooter in spot-ups in college. So, even if he may not be the most impressive athlete or a defensive standout, he possesses the most valuable skill in modern basketball: He can shoot lights out from all three levels.
Can He Be A Factor Defensively?
That’s the big issue and question here. On the one hand, he does have a 6’11’’ wingspan, so he could match up vs. bigger players and be able to guard multiple positions. However, he lacks the lateral quickness to stay in front of guys and could bulk up a little to take charges ala Danny Green, and get more playing time in Pop’s system.
Wieskamp would be more suited to guard the other team’s third or fourth scoring option rather than being a primary stopper. He tends to struggle in isolation, although he has good instincts in team defense and is an excellent rebounder for a shooting guard.
A Big Leap In Year Two
The Spurs recently converted Wieskamp’s two-way contract to a standard contract, so they clearly have big plans for him next season. That’s unsurprising, as he improved every major metric every year he was in college, and he was quite impressive in the G-League.
Should that trend continue, then we could expect Wieskamp to take a big step forward in his sophomore season. He made 29 appearances last season, averaging 2.1 points per game on roughly 7 minutes of action, most of them during garbage time.
Now, he’ll have to compete with Malaki Braham and Jordan Hall for the bulk of the backup shooting guard minutes, although he could also see some time at the three once they trade Josh Richardson and Doug McDermott as expected, alternating with Joshua Primo, depending on the situation.
Popovich Will Favor Development Over Wins
The San Antonio Spurs are projected to be one of the worst teams in the NBA next season. They’re expected to tank to try and get the first-overall pick and draft French prospect Victor Wembanyama with it to lead their rebuilding era.
While that may not be great news for the fans as they could be in for a very long season, it could be just what players like Joe Wieskamp need to prove their worth and get more playing time. The coaching staff will let the young players grow through their mistakes rather than focus on just winning games.
Wieskamp turned a lot of heads with his shooting in the G-League, and he did get the first taste of real NBA action. We’ve seen players like him earn their spot in the rotation in the second or third campaign, especially on rebuilding teams, so we wouldn’t be shocked to see him on the floor for 20+ minutes a night by the final week of next season.