NBA Draft Tracker: Spurs add UConn’s Castle to help Wemby, trade Kentucky’s Dillingham after picking him

Victor Wembanyama is the cornerstone of a new era for San Antonio basketball, and now he has a true point guard to help with the team’s turnaround.

BROOKLYN, N.Y. — Welcome to San Antonio, Stephon Castle.

With the fourth overall pick in the 2024 NBA Draft, the Spurs took the 6-foot-6 guard out of UConn Wednesday night—betting that the NCAA champion regarded for his top-notch playmaking and defensive grit will help the Spurs as the prepare for the second season of the Victor Wembanyama Era.

Last season, the Spurs allowed the most points per game (26.94) to opposing point guards. To get that number down, KENS 5’s Nate Ryan argued, the team’s best option was to add the best defender in this year’s class.

Not long after, the Spurs opted to draft Kentucky guard Rob Dillingham with the eighth overall pick before immediately trading him to Minnesota. The Timberwolves sent a 2031 unprotected first-round pick and a protected 2030 pick swap to the Spurs for the rights to Dillingham, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported.

The trade sparked some confusion and ample questions among Spurs fans, many of whom weren’t confident about the team’s decision to give up high-level scoring for what, at the moments, amounts to picks that will be used in several years from a Minnesota team equipped to remain a contender.  

Spurs GM Brian Wright was mum about the rationale Wednesday night with media. 

“I can’t speak to specifics,” he said when asked about the move. “But at another point in time, we’ll talk about that.” 

What Castle brings to the table

Castle started 30 games for the UConn Huskies, often drawing the matchup of the opposing team’s best player.

The Big East Freshman of the Year registered a 6-foot-9 wingspan at the NBA Combine in May, giving him the ability to fight over ball screens and disrupt passing lanes. He is arguably the most physically gifted player in this class at just 19 years old.

Castle averaged 11.1 points per game last season and helped the Huskies to a national championship as a freshman while playing mostly off the ball. He is expected to play point guard for San Antonio.

Shortly after Castle was drafted, he received a call from Wembanyama.

“We were just talking about coming down to San Antonio and how we just can’t wait to get to work,” Castle said. “I just can’t wait to get out there and show my versatility, especially with the kind of talent that we already have on that team.

Added Castle: “It being the youngest team in the league right now, I feel like our future is pretty bright.”

If there is a knock on Castle, it’s his three-point shooting. He shot just 26.7% from deep in his lone season at UConn. But on a team that included fellow likely draft picks Tristen Newton and Cam Spencer, Dan Hurley’s team didn’t need Castle to make three-pointers.

For what it’s worth, Castle made 18-25 three pointers at the NBA star shooting drill at the Combine. He played both guard positions at UConn, but has said that he prefers to go to an NBA team with a need at point guard.

Wright said the Spurs have had their eye on Castle since his high school playing days, adding they were drawn to his willingness to fill a specific role at a high-level program at UConn. 

Most of the time you don’t see highly rated players go to a school and be willing to play a role,” Wright said. “He played on the ball and off the ball in high school, doing things he just wasn’t able to showcase at UConn. That ability to sacrifice for the betterment of the team is something that stood out to us as well.”

Castle, for his part, told KENS 5 he’s excited to transition from one program that knows how to succeed to another, now at the professional levels. 

“I felt like it taught me so much being around Coach Hurley,” he said. “To transition from such a high-level coach to Gregg Popovich, one of the legendary coaches, it’s a blessing. I can’t wait to get out there.”


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