Spurs Draft Deep Dive: Matas Buzelis And His Enviable Tools

Matas Buzelis is coming off a forgettable season with a disastrous G League Ignite squad. Through the ugliness that surrounded him, he provided glimpses of unrefined tools that make him one of the most appealing prospects in the 2024 NBA Draft.

While Buzelis’ ultimate form is difficult to project, he’s a player that will tempt the San Antonio Spurs — starting with their fourth overall selection in the draft. 

The Case For the Spurs Drafting Matas Buzelis

Buzelis is clearly a very good athlete. He’s fast, he jumps high and he has lightning fast reaction speed. His athleticism gives him an impressive amount of potential on both ends of the court.

Defensively, Buzelis is already an elite shotblocker. The exciting aspect of his blocks is that he tallies them in a variety of circumstances. He’s not simply a center who waits at the rim; he’s disruptive on the ball and he’s a very good weakisde defender.

Offensively, Buzelis’ jumper looks good. His mechanics don’t need much tinkering and he gets good lift and his release point is high. As a senior in high school, Buzelis shot better than 43% from three-point land.

Not much squinting is needed to see real signs that he can be a playmaker. Buzelis is comfortable handling the ball, he can make high-level reads passing-wise and his one-on-one moves are advanced for his age. At the basket, he can finish with either finesse or thunder — depending on what’s needed.

Buzelis is 6-foot-10-in-shoes and has a 6-foot-10 wingspan. Add in his aforementioned athleticism and he has the tools needed to be a difference-maker in the NBA.

The Case Against the Spurs Draft Matas Buzelis

When it comes to Buzelis, he’s just a collection of tools at this point. There’s nothing tangible that you can bank on.

Defensively, while he’s likely to be a quality shotblocker on Day 1, it’s questionable if defense will end up being a strength or a liability for him. He weighs less than 200 pounds so defending bigs won’t be easy early in his career. On the perimeter, his feet aren’t notably fast when moving laterally, which could be a problem for a 6-foot-10 player going against the speedy guards and forwards in the NBA.

On the offensive end, Buzelis is coming off a season with the Ignite in which he shot 26.1% from three-point range and under 70% at the free throw line. Yes, his mechanics look good but it’s premature to label him as a shooter. 

In the G League, Buzelis averaged more turnovers than assists, which is evidence that he has a long way to go as a playmaker. He has some shake on the perimeter but he needs a lot of work on consistently finishing plays as either a scorer or a passer.

Matas Buzelis’ Fit on the Spurs

Buzelis has to be in the mix at No. 4. His tools stand out in this rather pedestrian draft. He’s also regarded as a high character prospect who works hard.

If the Spurs do pick Buzelis, I imagine he’ll be thrown into the fire pretty quickly. Another year in the G League wouldn’t do him much good. We’ll soon know if his shooting is for real and whether he can defend out on the perimeter. 

Final Thoughts on the Spurs Drafting Matas Buzelis

I think to pick Buzelis at No. 4, the Spurs would need to be sold that his NBA future is on the perimeter. As a big man who isn’t able to switch on defense, he’s not an especially interesting prospect. Specifically, drafting him to battle with Sochan for minutes doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, especially because they both have shooting-related question marks.

If San Antonio sees Buzelis as a wing who can one day be a shoot-dribble-pass playmaker and a switchable defender on the other side of the court, he could be a primary target in this draft. In fact, he could be at the very top of their Big Board depending on how the franchise believes he will develop.

At No. 8, no matter if the Spurs see him as a wing or a big man, Buzelis would be a justifiable pick. His tools would be enticing enough at No. 8 to pick him and figure out the rest later.