After a pandemic-caused delay of about five months, we can finally say that the 2020 NBA Draft is tomorrow. The San Antonio Spurs have the 11th pick in the first round, the franchise’s first foray into the lottery since they drafted Tim Duncan first overall in 1997.
There has also been talk of the Spurs possibly moving up in the lottery — even as high as the second overall selection. Who will San Antonio look to draft with their lottery pick? Here are the 23 prospects the Spurs could justifiably pick, listed in alphabetical order.
As a mobile defender, Precious Achiuwa has a high ceiling. He has the strength and athleticism to survive as a power forward or center on Day 1. Offensively, he has quite a bit of untapped potential, so much so that it’s not out of the realm of possibilities that he could develop into a small forward. But even if his transition to the perimeter on offense never happens, his mobility and switchability on defense gives him a good chance of being a valuable part of a rotation.
Coming out of high school, Cole Anthony was one of the top five prospects in all the land. While his struggles during his freshman season at North Carolina hurt his draft stock, the Spurs are known to rely heavily on their high school scouting and have overlooked poor freshman campaigns multiple times in the past. Anthony is a score-first guard who could ultimately be one of the better creators in this draft if he gets into the right situation and maxes out his potential.
While he doesn’t have one major strength to his game, Deni Avdija is extremely well-rounded for a 19-year-old prospect. It doesn’t take much imagination to see him as a combo forward who can make plays with or without the ball. With the Spurs needing help on the wing, he’d likely earn playing time as a rookie. Avdija has a good all-around feel for the game, is a better athlete than he’s usually given credit for and is very likely to at least be a helpful role player.
With a ceiling of becoming a franchise-altering point guard, LaMelo Ball will be a difficult prospect for any team to pass on. He has great size for the position, makes outstanding passes and processes the game very quickly. While his game has warts, it appears as if he has the size, athleticism and ability to potentially exceed expectations. On the Spurs, Ball would instantly become a piece the franchise would look to build around.
A combo forward with good size, good mobility and a potentially really good outside shot who has shown a dedication to the defensive end of the court — what’s not to like? Saddiq Bey won’t wow you with athleticism but he checks a lot of boxes teams look for these days when it comes to a valuable role player who can impact winning early in his career.
If you value scoring in this draft, Anthony Edwards is your man. As long as he irons out a few of his decision-making issues, he’s a lock to average 20 points per game at some point in his career. Add together his strength and athleticism and there’s also no reason why he couldn’t become a really good defender if he learns to focus on that end of the court. A team looking for an engine to guide their offensive attack can’t find a better prospect in this draft than Edwards.
While not many pundits believe that Josh Green will end up getting picked in the lottery, he has enough positive attributes that many teams will at least consider taking him in that range. Green is a really good athlete who passes the surprisingly well for a swingman. Although the Australian struggled at times as a freshman at Arizona, he exhibited flashes of brilliance on offense and quite a bit of potential on defense.
A super smart combo guard, Tyrese Haliburton is a player who can step right in and help just about any team in the league. While he might not be a starting point guard, between his marksmanship from deep, his elite court vision, his impactful activity on the defensive end and his team-first style of play, it’s very likely that he will be able to carve out a niche and have a quality NBA career.
Inch-for-inch, RJ Hampton is very likely the fastest player in this draft. Even if he has the ball in his hands, he’s a blur. Add in his leaping ability, his shiftiness and his underrated court vision and it’s pretty clear that Hampton is a reliable jumper away from being a dangerous offensive weapon. He’s somewhat of a gamble as a score-first guard who might not be able to score if he can’t fix his shot but there’s enough potential there to be captivated by what his future may hold.
This draft doesn’t have a better plug-and-play pick-and-roll distributor than Killian Hayes. It looks likely that he could run an offense at some point early on in his career. He already has a great feel for what to do on offense and a plethora of sneaky moves in his toolkit. His lack of athleticism and his wonky-looking jumper might limit his overall upside, however with playmaking at a premium in today’s NBA, Hayes will likely be valuable even if he doesn’t max out his abilities.
Kira Lewis Jr.
Kira Lewis Jr. is a speedster who can shoot the ball. Although he’s not the most natural of point guards right now, it looks possible that he could become a starting quality point guard down the line. At the very least he should thrive as a change-of-pace lead guard who will be really productive on a per-minute basis. Lewis also competes and doesn’t back down from competition — two traits you always want your team’s point guard to have.
Theo Maledon was once seen as a surefire lottery pick. Unfortunately for him, he struggled enough in the last 12 months to cause teams to lose quite a bit of enthusiasm. That said, he’s still a combo guard with good size, good athleticism and a ton of tools who has been taught the art of basketball for years by Tony Parker. He’s not as exciting of a prospect as he used to be but it’s fathomable that he becomes a starter in the NBA.
Tyrese Maxey’s road to the draft is actually quite similar to the road that Keldon Johnson traveled. Both were top ten recruits in high school who had up-and-down freshman campaigns at Kentucky. While their production on the court wasn’t steady on the college level, both Maxey and Johnson were hard-nosed defenders who could always be counted on to compete. Could the Spurs look to strike gold in Kentucky again? It’d be justifiable.
A late riser in the 2020 NBA Draft, Jaden McDaniels is another top ten high school recruit who struggled as a freshman. In McDaniels’ case, “struggle” is probably too kind of a word, though. The guy was horrible at Washington, if we’re being honest. But, still, he’s a 6-foot-9 wing who is a very smooth athlete. He has shown flashes (moreso on the high school level) of being a potential big-time weapon on the offensive end of the court. If the Spurs see him as a potential game-changing wing scorer worth investing in, they could use a lottery pick on him.
With Patty Mills potentially being traded and Bryn Forbes hopefully leaving, Aaron Nesmith’s shooting ability would fill what promises to be a gigantic void. To say Nesmith was a knockdown shooter last year at Vanderbilt would be an understatement. However, he missed a lot of games due to injury so it’s difficult to say how much of his stellar accuracy was due to the small sample size. Then again, the Spurs need shooting and Nesmith appears to be the best shooter in the draft, so San Antonio picking him would look blindingly obvious in hindsight.
If the Spurs want to get their center of the future in the draft and not have to worry about that position for another decade, Onyeka Okongwu is the man for that job. He should be able to step in and produce right away. And no matter if the NBA continues getting smaller or changes course and begins getting bigger, Okongwu strength, athleticism and mobility will allow him to compete and retain his value.
Of any of the players on this list, the one guy who obviously puts winning above all else is Isaac Okoro. He does whatever it takes for his teams to win games, whether that calls for him being an attack dog on defense or bulldozing his way to the bucket on offense. While he’s not much of a shooter yet, he has the frame and the athleticism to be an impact defender from the first day of training camp. In a few seasons, he could potentially grow into an above average offensive threat, as well.
For those people who believe that gambling on upside potential is always the way to go in the draft, Aleksej Pokusevski is a very intriguing target. While calling this 7-footer a beanpole would be offensive to beanpoles, it’s obvious that he has potential as a shooter, scorer and even as a playmaker. A 7-footer who can make plays on the perimeter? Yes, that potentially exists if Poku pans out. Selecting him will be fraught with peril but if you believe his body will fill out and his game will continue to expand, he’s a player who’s pickable in the lottery.
If Okongwu is off the board but the Spurs still want to use their pick to fortify the center position, Jalen Smith is a viable option. He’s not really a dynamic prospect but he’s strong, he can rebound, he can block shots and he can shoot it from the perimeter. He might need to add a little more weight to survive as a center but he should get there rather soon.
Obi Toppin is a super athletic power forward who was the best player in college basketball last season. He displayed an accurate outside shooting stroke to go along with a devastatingly effective ability to finish in the lane. While he definitely has issues on the defensive end, he has sky-high potential on offense and will instantly become one of the best run and jump athletes in the NBA.
When it comes to defensive IQ, Devin Vassell has no equal in the draft. He makes genius-level plays on that end of the court and he has the physical tools to continue his defensive mastery at the professional level. Though he is still a work in progress on offense, it appears as if Vassell will be a plus three-point shooter who has an outside chance of becoming an isolation threat or a playmaker. Considering that the Spurs need help on defense and shooting-wise, Vassell has to be on their radar.
Patrick Williams has been the fastest riser of this extended draft process. Although he only averaged 9.2 points as a freshman at Florida State, at 6-foot-8 and 230 pounds, Williams has the perfect NBA body and enough skills that it’s entirely understandable why multiple teams are now fawning over what he could become. He has good instincts on both ends of the court and the frame to maximize those instincts — it’s as simple as that.
If you squint hard enough, James Wiseman looks like a less athletic version of David Robinson. That fact, in and of itself, has to pique San Antonio’s interest. The 7-foot-1 left-hander is a great athlete (not quite David Robinson great, mind you) who oozes potential from his pores. He only played three games at Memphis and wasn’t consistent in high school so there are certainly question marks — but Wiseman’s incalculable upside is captivating.