The Air Alamo staff got together to discuss the San Antonio Spurs draft options
Even in the most normal of years, the NBA Draft is one of the highlights of the NBA calendar year. But, as we all know, this has not been your “normal” year. And that’s creating even more intrigue for the San Antonio Spurs.
Coming off of one of the most difficult seasons in recent memory, the Spurs find themselves back in the lottery for the first time since they took Tim Duncan all the way back in 1997. They’re slotted to have the 11th pick in the 2020 NBA Draft. But they might not be staying there.
In another break from the norm, the Spurs were at the center of several intriguing trade rumors over the past few days. They’ve been linked to the Golden State Warriors and a possible deal for the 2nd overall pick could be in play. There are also rumblings that the Atlanta Hawks could be a part of the deal as well.
These past few days have been nothing short of exhilarating for Spurs fans. And if they’re any indication of what we can expect over the next few well, hang on to your seats.
The Air Alamo staff recently got together to discuss who we like in the draft, who we think the Spurs should avoid, what deal’s we want to see made, and, ultimately, who we believe the San Antonio Spurs should add to their team. Let’s dive in.
Next: Whose stock is rising the fastest?
Feb 29, 2020; Clemson, South Carolina, USA; Florida State Seminoles forward Patrick Williams (4) during the first half against the Clemson Tigers at Littlejohn Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports
San Antonio Spurs Draft: Whose stock is rising the fastest right now?
James Weisman stock has gone up the most of the prospects I think. As time has gone on, he’s looked more suited to fit the Warriors at the number 2 spot in the draft because of their need for a consistent big man to fill the center position.
This player I actually wrote about back early in the summer, Florida State’s own Patrick Williams. Originally Patrick was projected to go around 11th- 14th with a lot of early mock drafts picking him to go to the Spurs. He is now projected to go 7th after the Detroit Pistons promised to take him. A raw talent, Williams frame, and athleticism along with a pretty mechanically sound jumper give him a very high ceiling.
The answer here has to be Patrick Williams, right? The amount of hype this guy has gotten over the past couple of months has allowed him to catapult all the way into the sixth pick in Kevin O’Connor’s latest mock draft. I remember him being projected for the end of the first round back in March. Fast forward to a week before the draft, and the 18-year-old prospect could go as high as 4th.
In a year that has redefined unusual, the lack of a normal draft process has made evaluating prospects like Williams difficult. He came off the bench for Florida State, only stayed for his freshman season, and didn’t get the opportunity to shine in March Madness like many expected him to.
Regardless, he’s 6’8 with nearly a 7-foot wingspan and weighs in at 225. Combine that with a solid outside stroke and a strong interior presence on defense, and you see where the hype comes from.
It has to Patrick Williams. The 6’8″ freshman was a key contributor on Florida State’s ACC championship squad, but was still relatively unknown amongst most circles and definitely wasn’t considered a lottery pick until lately.
Scouts have been oozing about his two-way versatility and many believe he could have one of the highest ceilings of any prospect in this year’s talent pool. Despite being the second youngest prospect in this class, several teams are convinced that Williams has All-Star potential and is worthy of a top-10 or lottery selection.
Another name that’s been garnering a ton of attention is Kira Lewis Jr. from Alabama. Teams are infatuated with his lightning-quick speed and believe he can excel with the pace and space of the NBA. A few months ago most had Lewis Jr. tabbed as a fringe 1st-rounder, but he could sneak into the lottery.
Patrick Williams is a player that has been flying up draft boards but a player who has really stood out to me over the past few weeks has been Tyrell Terry from Stanford. He’s a Minneapolis kid so I have to show some love but he’s got real potential as a player as well.
I first took notice of Terry after The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor repeatedly pointed to him as a player who could surprise people with how high he goes. He’s definitely undersized, even after putting on a bunch of weight this summer. But the way he navigates the court and flows through screens is Curry-like and he seems to have not problem pulling and hitting from anywhere he’d like. This is a guy I know I’m looking forward to watching at the next level.
Next: Who do we see falling in the draft?
Mar 11, 2020; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; TCU Horned Frogs guard Desmond Bane (1) dribbles against Kansas State Wildcats guard Cartier Diarra (2) during the second half at Sprint Center. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports
San Antonio Spurs Draft: Whose stock has taken a hit recently?
RJ Hampton’s stock seems to have dipped the most in my opinion. Three other point guards projected to go ahead of him in the draft and six total guards. Though if he does go at 15 like he’s projected, it could be a great fit in Orlando to make other teams wish they hadn’t let him drop.
Aleksej Pokusevski. At one point there were talks of him going as high as 15th and potentially being the next “unicorn.” However, due to his incredibly thin frame and raw abilities, he’s now projected to go in the second round. Perhaps his numbers may seem inflated to some due to the competition level in the foreign league he was in.
There haven’t been any massive droppers, but I’ll put Precious Achiuwa for the sake of putting an answer. He was floating around 14 and 15 just a month ago, which puts him in San Antonio’s range. He’s now floating around 25. I like what Achiuwa brings in terms of rim protection, but what worries me is how he’ll adjust to the NBA. He showed good recovery on switches when smaller guards got by him, but if he can’t patch that up, he’s going to get burned in the pick and roll. If he can keep the player in front of him, he’s a brick wall.
Offense will be the make or break factor for him. He’s one of the better finishers in the draft around the rim and is capable of bringing the house down on lobs and in transition. Achiuwa’s body type has him as a “tweener”, and that could complicate things for him if he can’t improve his scoring away from the rim (shot 60 percent from the line, 26 percent on floaters, 30 percent on jumpers).
Nobody’s stock has taken a worse hit over the last year than Cole Anthony. The former Tar Heel was ranked the No. 2 prospects in the country coming out of high school, the highest rating for a point guard since Kyrie Irving. However, a meniscus tear early in the season derailed Anthony’s lone season at Carolina. He posted impressive numbers but was extremely ball-dominant given the lack of a strong supporting cast.
As a result, Cole frequently pushed the envelope to a fault, taking contested shots and making poor reads which led to an atrocious 4-3.5 AST/TO ratio. Once considered a lock to be a top-5 pick in the draft, some mock projections have him falling out of the lottery and even into the mid-20s.
I don’t know if his stock is necessarily falling or if people are just having a hard time coming to a consensus on where he should go but Desmond Bane is a player who I’ve seen going all over the board.
Fans of his will rave about his offensive production in college while his detractors will point to his age and negative wingspan as reasons to avoid him. It seems like just a few weeks ago he was being talked about as a potential draft-night steal and now he might not even go in the first round. He can still be a steal in the second but it’ll be very interesting to see when he eventually comes off the board.
Next: One draft night trade you'd like to see
Nov 9, 2019; San Antonio, TX, USA; Boston Celtics forward Gordon Hayward (20) steps back to take a shot in the first half of the game against the San Antonio Spurs at the AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports
San Antonio Spurs Draft: What trades do you want to see on draft night?
I’d like to see the Atlanta Hawks trade up from the number six spot to get Anthony Edwards. They have a good young core with Young and Collins leading the way, along with De’Andre Hunter whom they got last year and Edwards would round things out to keep a nice solid core like that for years to come.
One draft night trade I’d like to see would be with a team in the east that has a plethora of athletic forwards with one of them reportedly wanting out. I am talking of course about the Boston Celtics and Gordon Hayward.
It’s clear that Boston needs a big and it appears Gordon is up for sale. The trade? LaMarcus Aldridge and Rudy Gay for Gordon and next year’s first-round pick. By doing this trade the Spurs move on from LaMarcus and Rudy which seems inevitable anyways and get back an All-Star level forward along with another draft pick.
And if Gordon doesn’t work out, then you let him walk after next season since he’s on an expiring deal and the Spurs cap space is untouched. Boston gets a great big in LaMarcus, a good role player in Rudy and the Spurs fill a need at the forward position and don’t hurt any future plans.
This one is a no brainer for me. I love a trade that our own Dylan Carter cooked up. The Spurs get the #2 overall pick, get an awesome player (or trade asset) in Buddy Hield, and avoid absorbing Andrew Wiggins’ less than ideal contract. The Spurs’ books are pristine going into the 2021-22 season, and avoiding adding the remaining $95 million Wiggins is owed over the next three years would be an absolute home run.
Most have labeled this draft class as being one of the weaker pools we’ve seen in recent history and there’s expected to be a lot of teams interested in moving up and down in the draft. Over the last few days, there have been rumblings that the Spurs could be a team that might look to get in on that action.
Zach Lowe mentioned a deal involving LMA and the 11th pick for GSW’s No. 2 pick which would be any Spurs fan’s dream. While it might be more of a pipe dream, I’d love any deal that gives San Antonio the chance to grab a prospect like LaMelo, Edwards, Wiseman, or Deni.
I’ll be watching to see what the Boston Celtics do with their three first-round picks this year. Danny Ainge is a notoriously shrewd trade maker and now he’s got three first-rounders to go along with a roster that’s already close to contending for a title.
They don’t need to add three rookies, they need another star. But how will they get there? Will they find a team in the top-five who they can swap 3 for 1 with or will they look to get an established star from a rebuilding team. It’s anyone’s guess but when Ainge has this much ammo at his disposal it behooves you to pay attention.
Next: Who will be the steal of the draft?
Mar 14, 2020; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; Washington Huskies guard Nahziah Carter (right) pressures Arizona Wildcats guard Josh Green (0) during the second half at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports
San Antonio Spurs Draft: Who will be the steal of the 2020 NBA Draft?
My sleeper in this draft is Obi Toppin. He’s projected at sixth in the draft but has the potential of a top-three pick. If he finds the right fit on draft day, he’ll be an All-Star in the next 3 years.
Cassius Winston. A projected late second-rounder, Cassius has the potential to be a steal for any team that takes a chance on him. The former Big Ten player of the year had a tremendous career at Michigan State averaging 14 points and 6.5 assists while shooting 46% from the field (and 43% from three). Cassius has the potential to be a tremendous asset to any backcourt in the league.
I don’t know if he’s really that much of a sleeper, but I really like Josh Green’s value as a 3-and-D piece. That’s been proven to be an absolutely critical piece for playoff teams, but playoff basketball constantly reminds us that you need multiple shot creators and ball handlers (Unless you have LeBron James and Anthony Davis on your team).
Green showed some flashes with his handles, but he needs to improve them drastically. His scoring inside the arc is completely predicated on how he can beat a close-out, so if he can’t shoot, he’ll be a zero on offense. Defensively, he has a great frame and plays a hounding, intelligent defense. Kevin O’Connor had him going 18th to Dallas, which is about right for me. I think his sweet stroke and quick release gives him a solid floor, so maybe sleeper isn’t the correct term to use for him.
Is it okay to have a potential top-10 pick as a sleeper? Because mine is Killian Hayes, the 6’5″ French point guard who spent last season playing with Ratiopharm Ulm. I feel like most international prospects are traditionally underrated to a certain extent given the varying leagues they compete in and the level of competition they face. But Hayes seems like the real deal. Yes, he’s still very raw like most other 18-19 year-olds, but he’s a bright and innovative facilitator who plays with a flare that isn’t easily replicated.
The Ringer’s Kevin O’Conner actually has Killian ranked as his top prospect in this class, but some mock drafts have him pegged as a late lottery guy. He still has plenty of areas where he can improve, but he already has a solid offensive foundation and I think he can develop into one of the premier floor generals in this league in the next 3-4 years.
I believe in Markus Howard. He’s not predicted to go in the first round of the draft and there are obvious holes in his game but he is such an elite offensive talent that it’s hard to pass him off entirely. He led the NCAA in usage and points produced per game this year and should be able to bring some of that magic to the NBA.
He’s going to have to go through a pretty stark adjustment from being the man at Marquette to being a bench player in the NBA but if he can land in the right role there’s no reason that he shouldn’t be able to thrive.
Next: Who should the San Antonio Spurs take?
Feb 16, 2020; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Villanova Wildcats forward Saddiq Bey (41) looks on in the first half during the game against the Temple Owls at Liacouras Center. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Ross-USA TODAY Sports
Who do you want to see the San Antonio Spurs take in the 2020 NBA Draft?
Spurs should take Precious Achiuwa. He’s got the strength and good versatility as a big man and can run the center spot in smaller lineups. He wouldn’t be an immediate start for the Spurs, but be a key piece off the bench to start and maybe eventually in year one, if not year two, crack their starting lineup.
This answer really depends on any draft day trades the Spurs partake in that may change their position on the draft board, but assuming they remain at the 11th pick, I’m going with Saddiq Bey.
Standing at 6’8” and coming off a great year at Villanova scoring 16.1 points per game while shooting 45% from three, Bey is an impressive offensive player. He’s also a solid defender, it’s easy to see why the Spurs have had their eye on him for some time.
Not to mention that by all accounts he would appear to be a great culture fit as a blue-collar, hard-working individual who understands the importance of putting the team’s needs above the individuals. He’s also old enough to share a glass of wine with Coach Pop.
Saddiq Bey feels like the perfect Spur. Remember when I said I like Josh Green’s defense and his three-point shooting and potential for scoring inside the arc? All of that is even better with Saddiq. There are other players that I’m higher on, but I also don’t think the Spurs get a crack at them (Patrick Williams, Isaac Okoro) if they stay at the 11th spot.
Bey’s release point is fine, but his wind on a shot is a little funky. I have no doubt Spurs shooting coach Chip Engelland can work his magic on Bey, especially considering the shot isn’t broken, to begin with. The Spurs need long players that can guard the 3 and stay with a guard on a switch, and Bey can be that guy. I’m not sure the guy could be more Spurs-y.
It truly depends on if the Spurs choose to stand pat with the 11th pick or decide to make a move to jump into the top 5. Should the San Antonio pick at 11, I would be happy with taking either of the wings from Florida State, Devin Vassell, or Patrick Williams. Both prospects fit into the prototypical “3-and-D” archetype the Spurs are looking for and they each share upside on the offensive end.
If San Antonio breaks custom and jumps up in the draft, whether that be through a deal with the Warriors or another top-5 team, I’d be intrigued by either James Wiseman or Deni Avdija. Wiseman has drawn comparisons to David Robinson with his physical stature and strength. He only played 3 games at Memphis before opting out, but if he’s as dominant as he looked in college then the Spurs could be getting a transcendent talent.
If the Spurs stick with the 11th pick I know I’ll be crossing my fingers and praying that one of Devin Vassell or Isaac Okoro is there for them to take. And, of the two, I’d prefer Okoro.
He doesn’t provide the 3-point shooting that Vassell does but the Spurs defensive issues were arguably more detrimental than their inability to put up enough threes. They got cooked on the perimeter every game last year. Some of that could be mitigated by not playing Bryn Forbes for 20+ minutes per game but adding Okoro is a sure-fire way to improve their defense for the next decade.
That’s all we’ve got for you in this roundtable discussion. Stay tuned to Air Alamo as we continue to cover the San Antonio Spurs leadup to the 2020 NBA Draft.