In our second mock draft for 2020, we take a look at how the pause in the season may have impacted the San Antonio Spurs draft choices
Even with the NBA season suspended the one thing that we can do with some relative sense of normalcy is make wild speculations about how young prospects’ NBA careers will pan out. About one month removed from the season now feels like a good time to take another look at the San Antonio Spurs’ upcoming draft choices.
Amid other disturbances caused by the coronavirus, concerns are now arising about the possibility of pushing the NBA draft back. It would make sense, there is only so much scouting you can do over a Zoom meeting. Every prospect can look good in an empty gym but teams will want to put them through their own workout as well. Until that is a possibility the draft date may be in limbo.
With their highest draft pick in over twenty years, there’s going to be a lot of pressure on the San Antonio Spurs to nail the pick. Projected to pick 11th, there will be plenty of appealing options open for the Spurs. The possibility of a draft-day trade to move up or down remains in play.
It looks like it’s going to be a guard-heavy lottery, which doesn’t necessarily play to what the Spurs need right now. But when it comes down making their final choice they should go with the best player on the board, regardless of position, and figure the fit-out later.
For this Mock Draft 2.0, we will only be focusing on the lottery. Draft picks were used by running Tankathon’s Mock Draft simulator a dozen times and averaging the results.
After an up and down season with the Georgia Bulldogs, Anthony Edwards has locked in his spot at the top of many draft boards. He has his issues on defense and shows questionable shot selection at times but his athletic potential and fit on the Warriors make this an easy pick.
Edwards is a tremendous attacker off the dribble. He’s already got the body to hang in the NBA and he combines that with a soft touch that allows him to absorb contact and still finish consistently.
With his slashing ability and next-level athleticism, Edwards will be a threat in transition with the rest of the Warriors from day one. He’s a good passer but playing with Steph Curry and Klay Thompson will allow him to develop that area of his game before taking on too much responsibility.
While he was inconsistent in his defensive effort in college he has all the physical tools to become a versatile defender. Having Draymond Green in his ear should help him unlock his potential on that end of the floor.
There will be intrigue around the Warriors pick right up until draft night. With their two stars coming back from injury it won’t be long before Golden State is near the top of the Western Conference again. They could move this pick in exchange for a veteran who can better help them win now.
If at first, you don’t succeed, try try again. After using their past two most recent lottery picks on point guards the Cleveland Cavaliers are going back to the watering hole for year three. LaMelo Ball brings an upgrade in playmaking for a team searching for its next star.
He’s got otherworldly court vision, elite size for his position, and flair for the creative that reminds you of Jason Williams or Magic Johnson. If the Cavs can come to a long-term deal with Andre Drummond, the Cavs big man would form a dynamic duo in pick and roll with Ball.
At 6’7 with a 6’10 wingspan, Ball has the physical tools to become a versatile NBA defender if he puts in the work. It’s something he will have to work on but as he’s already a skilled scorer, rebounder, and passer, it’s the last thing he needs to add to round out his potential.
With Darius Garland and Colin Sexton already improving as scorers, Ball could step in right away as the lead playmaker for the Cavaliers. Whatever team he does end up with, Ball will bring out the best in his teammates from the beginning by rewarding them with precise passes if they get open.
They got their point guard when they traded Andrew Wiggins for DeAngelo Russell, now it’s time for the Minnesota Timberwolves to round out their frontcourt. Pairing Karl-Anthony Towns with Onyeka Okongwu will give the Wolves the big man duo they need to compete over the next decade.
KAT is one of the best offensive big men in the league right now but his shortcomings on defense have been an issue for Minnesota. With Josh Okogie and Jarrett Culver, they have the wing defenders they need, now Okongwu can come in and cover for Towns down low.
Okongwu is quick for his size, he can step out to the perimeter to guards wings if necessary. He’s also got the length to with his agility, giving him a rare combination of physical skills that will allow him to hunt for weakside rejections and recover when he’s been beaten off the dribble.
On offense, he will benefit from playing with two skilled passers in Towns and Russell. He’s agile, has a solid bag of post moves, and is a constant lob threat. He won’t have to be anything more than a third or fourth option in his first year with the Wolves and would fit that role well while he continues to improve on that end.
The New York Knicks get another point guard, hopefully, the one they’ve been searching for for years now. Killian Hayes has been flying up draft boards to the point where Kevin O’Connor at The Ringer has him as the number one player on his board.
He doesn’t have quite the name recognition that LaMelo Ball carries but Hayes has been playing overseas as well and has turned himself into one of the top guards in the draft. He’s a great passer, consistent finisher, and is one of the younger players in the draft.
He’s going to need time to work on his handle, add muscle to his frame, and adjust to the speed of the NBA but when he’s done growing Hayes can be the star point guard the Knicks have been looking for.
With Arturas Karnisovas at the helm, the Chicago Bulls future already looks markedly better than it did just a few short weeks ago. The former FIBA Player of the Year has spent the last several years building the Denver Nuggets into a contender, he will be looking to replicate that success in Chicago.
In his first move as the head of Bulls basketball, Karnisovas can begin shaping the future of the bulls by selecting James Wiseman with his first pick.
It was recently reported that Lauri Markkannen was going to ask to be moved if the situation in Chicago did not turn around fast. Changes have certainly been made but we will have to wait and see if they were enough to keep Markkannen in town.
Either way, picking Wiseman helps the Bulls for a future with or without their former first-round pick. One of the most physically imposing draft prospects in the past few years, Wiseman can start his career crashing boards, running the floor with Coby White and Zach LaVine, and finishing lobs.
As long as they have Trae Young as their leader the Atlanta Hawks are going to struggle on defense. We saw that this year when teams regularly tore through Atlanta’s defense. Isaac Okoro isn’t the solution but he’s a step in the right direction.
He’s not much of a shooter but Okoro should thrive in a lineup with Young, Hunter or Reddish, and John Collins as a complementary ball-handler and slasher. He can essentially fill the role that Andre Iguodala, had next to Stephen Curry in Golden State. Consider Atlanta President Travis Schlenk’s time in as a member of the Warriors front office and this pick starts to make perfect sense.
Even if his shot never develops to be anything more than average, Okoro fills an area of need for Atlanta. The surplus of shooters the Hawks have makes the issues with Okoro’s shot even more stomachable.
Left with a Reggie Jackson sized hole at point guard, drafting Tyrese Haliburton with the seventh pick almost makes too much sense for the Detroit Pistons.
I’ve written at length about why I’m so high on Haliburton. He’s a very talented, seemingly low-maintenance player who could make any team better. Comfortable playing off or on the ball, Haliburton will make every player on the Pistons better.
They’re not the hottest team in the league but I would tune in to watch a Pistons game featuring Christian Wood, Luke Kennard, Blake Griffin, and Haliburton. There’s enough offensive and defensive potential there to be intriguing and the style of play should be entertaining at least.
He could start in a backup role while he acclimates to the speed of the NBA but Haliburton will be in a starting lineup before long. He’s too rare of a passer and does everything else well enough that he should be starting sooner than most rookie point guards.
Dylan Carter did a longer piece on why Devin Vassell makes sense for San Antonio Spurs that you can read here. As Carter notes, there are very few risk-free draft picks this year but Vassell is about as close as a team will find.
A multipositional shooter and defender, Vassell is going to immediately help any team’s defense. He’s locked in on that end of the floor and uses his 6’10 wingspan to envelop smaller players. The Spurs struggled immensely on defense last year and, while their young guys do show potential, they still have a lot of room to improve.
A near 42 percent 3-point shooter in his two years at Florida State, Vassell rounds out his 3-and-D potential by being one of the best shooters in the draft. He’s got a beautiful arcing shot that he releases so high that it’s nearly impossible for defenders his size to stop unless their right on top of him.
More than just a shooter, Vassell can put the ball on the floor and get to the rim when he wants. It’s not his go-to and likely won’t be a huge part of his game if he’s playing with creators like Dejounte Murray and Derrick White but it’s something that he can do.
An offensive juggernaut in the mold of Amar’e Stoudemire, Obi Toppin was the National Player of the Year for a reason. He can stretch defenses out past the 3-point line and will dunk you into the Earth’s core if you give him the room. He has all the potential to be a scoring/playmaking forward like Blake Griffin in a few years.
He’s not shooting it from deep quite as much as Griffin and other NBA forwards have been but he’s comfortable from beyond the arc and will make defenses pay. A 39 percent shooter from deep, Toppin was only shooting 2.6 3-pointers a game in his sophomore season, look for that number to rise at the next level.
He’s going to be attacked on defense from the very beginning. He’s not a particularly great one on one defender but has the physical tools to improve on that. Often looking out of place, Toppin’s defense will be an even bigger issue for a team like Charlotte who lacks any true rim protectors.
No change here from Mock Draft 1.0 but the fit between Cole Anthony and the Washinton Wizards is too good for us to change it. He’s a score-first point guard who can either lead the bench unit or potentially slide into the starting lineup next to Bradley Beal.
The Washington Wizards were one of the top offensive teams in the NBA last year. With Beal and Davis Bertans stretching defenses out, the opportunity for a rim attacking guard like Anthony to step in is right there for the taking.
He won’t help them on defense much, he’s undersized for his position and doesn’t make up for any lost height with a particularly impressive wingspan. He plays hard but will be targeted into switches onto larger players.
He can look for his shot too much but if he’s leading the Wizards second unit that might not be the worst thing. That can be an area of his game to improve upon while the Wizards figure out exactly what they want their future to look like.
Set with their point guards and center, Deni Avdija joins the Phoenix Suns as a playmaking forward to go next to DeAndre Ayton. A skilled forward, Avdija can create for himself and others or play off of Ricky Rubio and Devin Booker.
He’s a plus defender, usually in place and playing hard. He’s not the most physical player his size but makes up for that with quick feet and athleticism to stay in front of smaller players and recover quickly when necessary.
His shooting ability gives you pause. He only hit 52 percent of his free throws so there’s reason to worry that he might not even become an average shooter. That’s a big risk here, especially for a team like Phoenix. Avdija has everything else that Phoenix should be looking for at this point in the draft but his lack of shooting ability is a near deal-breaker in today’s NBA.
It might seem a little redundant but adding Tyrese Maxey to a backcourt already featuring an explosive Kentucky alum is the right play for the Sacramento Kings.
The Kings fiddled with flipping Buddy Hield and Bogdan Bogdanovic in and out of the starting lineup throughout the season and with Bogdanovic in line for a major extension the Kings must think about the possibility he doesn’t stay in Sacramento.
Maxey is an insurance policy against that, and then some. A jitterbug driver and finisher, Maxey doesn’t have the burst or explosiveness that De’Aaron Fox does but then again very few do. He makes up for that by getting as creative with a soft touch off the glass as a mid-40s dad at the YMCA proving he still has it.
He’s an excellent defender as well. He stays up on his man and uses his long frame to disrupt passing lanes. He’s solid on that end. Altogether he’s a winning guard that will be able to run his team but could come off the bench as well.
Already a well-rounded team, the New Orleans can afford to reach a little bit here and select a player who will do exactly what they are looking for. After being named the nation’s top small forward, Saddiq Bey will join the Pelicans as a great defender and spot-up shooter.
One of the top shooters in the country, Bey will instantly step in to help add to a Pelicans team that already features several long-range threats. But if Alvin Gentry truly wants to utilize Zion Williamson in the way that LeBron and Giannis have been, he needs to surround him with as much shooting as possible.
A 45 percent shooter from deep, Bey can tear the skin off the ball with his jump shot. His release, while strange looking, is effective and he should have no problem adjusting to the longer distance in the NBA.
As a versatile defender, Bey was frequently tasked with shutting down the opposing team’s best play in college. He can slide between multiple positions and should fit well into a lineup that looks like it will be able to go switch-heavy when necessary.
They’re set at the guard positions with Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, the paint will be held down by Jusef Nurkic and Zach Collins, all that’s left is for the Portland Trail Blazers to flush out their depth on the wing.
They added Nassir Little in last year’s draft and go back to the wing watering hole this year to select Josh Green from the University of Arizona. He doesn’t have the look of a game-altering prospect but Green should fill a secondary scoring role and play solid defense for a team that is already full of stars.
He’s an excellent athlete who should be able to guard multiple positions at the next level. His 6’10 wingspan and solid frame will help him step up to guard forwards and he’s quick enough that corralling guards shouldn’t be a problem.
Portland doesn’t need to swing for the fences here. They can afford to take a safe pick who will likely end up having a nice career as a solid role player but not much more. With two elite scorers and multiple promising big men, that’s all the Blazers need right now.
This year’s draft promises to be unlike any one that we’ve ever seen before. The upcoming NFL draft will give us insight into how the NBA might pull the night off, but how teams scout players will be totally new. Stay tuned to Air Alamo for all of you San Antonio Spurs draft coverage as the day approaches.