Jan 18, 2020; Los Angeles, California, USC USC Trojans forward Onyeka Okongwu (21) shoots a free throw against the Stanford Cardinal in the first half at Galen Center. Okongwu would be a perfect addition to the San Antonio Spurs. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Which 2020 draftee would be the best fit for the San Antonio Spurs?
After many months of waiting, the NBA Draft is finally here. Wednesdays 2020 NBA draft will be one that sets the tone for this decade of San Antonio Spurs basketball.
With the 11th pick in the 2020 NBA draft, the San Antonio Spurs have a plethora of options they can go through with.
They could draft a plug-in-play starter, who can contribute in a 3&D role. If you’re okay with minimal upside but a high ability to contribute consistently, there are many options. Guys like Josh Green, Aaron Nesmith, or Saadiq Bey all come to mind.
Or they could draft a project prospect. Players who have significant gaps in their game at the moment, that will benefit from a season or two in Austin but still, maintain a higher upside. Aleksej Pokusevski and Patrick Williams fit this in this group.
Finally, if San Antonio is feeling really bold they could trade up in the draft to select a prospect that they feel can be a franchise cornerstone. Will they make a move to get someone like Killian Hayes and Deni Avdija.
While the Spurs likely won’t be trading up into the top three to select one of the trios of Wiseman-LaMelo-Edwards, everybody else is a realistic option. With a deep field to work with, five prospects fit best for San Antonio in the 2020 NBA Draft.
Next: Saddiq Bey
Feb 29, 2020; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Villanova Wildcats forward Saddiq Bey (41) dribbles the ball in front of Providence Friars guard Maliek White (4) during the second half at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
San Antonio Spurs Draft: Saddiq Bey is a great plug and play option
In the modern NBA, you cannot have enough versatile two-way forwards. And Villanova’s Saadiq Bey is arguably the best 3&D forward in the class, and even then you’ll be selling his collective game short.
Bey does his best offensive work behind the three-point line. A career 41.8 percent three-point shooter during his two years at Villanova, Bey is as consistent as they come in this class
Bey would work great as a catch and shoot three-point shooter, feeding off of the drive and kick passes from guys like Dejounte Murray, Lonnie Walker, and DeMar DeRozan, but also off of feeds from the pick and roll.
His shot creation upside in terms of isolation scoring is a bit of a long-shot, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t a good passer or a good scorer off of the bounce. A competent pick and roll ball handler, Bey can make NBA-level reactive reads and even pull up for mid-range jump shots.
His work on the defensive end is also rock solid. He’s one of the better defenders in this draft and routinely guarded the opposing team’s most dangerous scorer, regardless of position. Bey has true switchability as a defender.
Standing 6’8, Bey fits right in the middle of being a combo forward. He’d give San Antonio an option who can play both forward spots. That’s going to be a hole soon for the Spurs, with Rudy Gay entering the final year of his contract.
Bey isn’t on a Kawhi Leonard trajectory coming out of the NBA draft, and he also doesn’t have a crazy-high ceiling. But his impact on the floor will be evident from the second he’s plugged into the rotation.
He’s an NBA-ready prospect from day one, as his game revolves around ball-movement and high effort, two things San Antonio desperately needs to come back and be a base of their team on offense.
Next: Onyeka Okongwu
San Antonio Spurs Draft: Onyeka Okongwu is nearly bust proof
If they’re willing to trade up in the draft, the San Antonio Spurs could finally select a player who has ties to the coveted Chino Hills high school in California. The catch is, it won’t be one of the Ball brothers.
Onyeka Okongwu, born and raised in Los Angeles, is a perfect match for the silver and black.
The 19-year-old big man out of USC is an ideal fit for the frontcourt for San Antonio. With players like LaMarcus Aldridge and Jakob Poeltl’s future in question with the organization, San Antonio will need a long-term answer at the position.
Okongwu is that answer. The 6’9 center is the best two-way big man in the class. With a polished post-up game and elite defensive instincts, the sky is the limit in terms of Okongwu’s potential.
His game on the offensive end is as it pertains to his ability as a floor spacer but his game on the low-block is NBA-ready. He averaged 1.145 points per possession when posting up his defender, 1.162 points per possession as the roll-man in pick and roll, and 1.209 points per possession off of cuts to the basket. He really can score in any way you ask him to.
All of his offensive advanced metrics placed him in the better half of college basketball last season, with numerous advanced statistics leaving him in the 73rd-percentile or higher.
His role in the Spurs offense to begin will be similar to what you see from Jakob Poeltl. Expect that Onyeka will be a “plus” version of Jakob, as he’s a much better athlete with a high motor on both ends, and even better in the screen assist department.
Overall he’s a much more polished offensive player than Jakob is right now, and with proper development of his jump-shot, he can become among the best scoring bigs in the league.
Defensively he’s a glass cleaner and a rim protector to his core. He has an especially high motor on the defensive end, as he has a knack for being a strong rebounder on both ends of the floor and he possesses high-level defensive instincts as a team defender and a rim rotator.
Overall, San Antonio could be looking at their big man of the future with the selection of Onyeka Okongwu. Make no mistake about it, his fit in San Antonio would be near perfect.
Next: Devin Vassell
Florida State guard Devin Vassell, a San Antonio Spurs draft prospect, lines up his 3-point shot Saturday, March 7, 2020.
San Antonio Spurs Draft: Devin Vassell gives Spurs another wing option
Both Florida State forwards are rising up draft boards very quickly, for good reason.
Devin Vassell, the much more polished and NBA-ready prospect of the Florida State players, is a great fit for the San Antonio Spurs in both the short and long term.
Originally thought of as a 3&D prospect, one that, outside of a straight line dribble to the basket, won’t offer you much shot creation ability, Vassell improved in that department immensely.
From only making one jump shot off the dribble during his freshman year to making 39 his sophomore year, Vassell has shown that he can be counted on to make leaps of progression year to year on offense.
Vassell has shown the ability to not only create opportunities off the dribble, but he’s a great catch and shoot player as well. He shot 41.7 percent from beyond the arc during his time at FSU and looks comfortable shooting either catch and shoot threes or pull-up mid-range jump shots. Which, considering his freshman campaign didn’t have an ounce of the latter, is an encouraging sign going forward.
His passing ability is also underrated, as he’s a great secondary facilitator for an offense. He’s shown the ability to make a plethora of NBA-level passes in transition and the half-court.
All of that considered, his impact on the defensive end will be felt much more than his contributions on offense to begin his career. While Vassell’s game on offense is nothing to frown upon as a 19-year-old, he’s a better defensive player than he is an offensive one.
Devin’s motor on both ends is among the highest in the class but defensively is where he currently is at his best.
He has a unique blend of good footwork, quick feet, and a near 6’10 wingspan that makes him arguably the most versatile on-ball defender in the class. He’ll be able to defend positions 1-4 at the next level once he adds weight to his frame.
As a team defender, he possesses high-level instincts and strong rim rotations that give you a unique upside as a rim protector from the 3/4 position.
In totality, his defensive prowess is among the best in the class, as he’s one of the more complete NBA-ready prospects in this draft. He’s a day one starter who can contribute in many roles, especially ones that the Spurs need.
Next: Killian Hayes
San Antonio Spurs Draft: Killian Hayes is a star in the making
Another guard? Another point guard? Really?
Yes, yes really. If selected, Killian Hayes would immediately become the best guard on this roster.
For a team that has one of the best pick and roll ball handlers in the NBA in Derrick White, that’s saying a ton. But the hype on Killian Hayes is well-deserving.
The 6’5 lefty from France is worthy of recent draft praise, as he has arguably the highest ceiling in the class. At his worst, Killian Hayes will be an elite pick and roll threat for his team. That’s significant, as a vast majority of the NBA runs pick and roll between 17 percent and 26 percent of the time.
Hayes’s best attribute is his passing ability. He’s a three-level passer with above average NBA-level vision at just 19 years old.
He’s a great live-action passer, who can create at any moment for himself and others. Also, he can make the coveted “pocket pass” with ease, something another French PG did with ease as a Spur. There isn’t a pass Killian Hayes cannot make in the half-court or transition.
His scoring ability is already very polished. He’s a good scorer off the dribble, very smooth at all three levels of the court. A crafty finisher at the bucket, he’s a threat off the bounce with his impressive ball-handling ability. He loves the Harden-esque step back jump-shot, as well as the snatch back mid-range pull-up jumper.
He shot 48 percent from the field, and just a tick below 30 percent from deep while playing for Ratiopharm Ulm. You’d expect his three-point shot to develop and he’s shown an ability to knock down shots with ease from distance.
During his time playing in the Eurocup league, he shot 39 percent from deep on four attempts. The consistency is the question for his deep shooting stroke, but he’s a great scoring talent at just 19 years of age. His low percentages at this stage are not terribly concerning.
His shot selection and shot IQ as a scorer is very polished, you can tell he has played multiple seasons as a professional. Every move on the offensive end of the floor is calculated, he’s truly either the first or second-best prospect in this draft class.
Defensively there’s not much to scoff at either. He’s a willing defender on that end, with great defensive instincts. His motor on defense is unquestioned, as he can be an impact player on that end on many nights.
As a pick and roll defender, he’s solid. Despite times where he is beat, he recognizes it and focuses on technique to defend. He’s a bit inconsistent when it comes to defending the pick and roll ball handler and just when he’s out defending on the perimeter in general, but as a team defender, he’s very sound and active, willing, and engaging.
Overall, the Spurs get their point guard of the future with the selection of Killian Hayes. They get a franchise cornerstone player with elite upside on offense, one that can leave his mark on the defensive end as well.
Next: Deni Avdija
San Antonio Spurs: Deni Avdija is the perfect fit for San Antonio
I’ve previously inked the pen on a Deni Avdija piece for Air Alamo, I’m sticking to my guns on this one. Avdija is a perfect fit for Spurs going forward, should they trade up and select him.
Despite not being the best athlete in the class, Deni uses his unique blend of size, skill, and IQ to impact basketball games night in and night out.
Avdij is a 6’9 forward who has one of the best two-way skillsets in this draft. A crafty shooter and scorer, with a passing ability out of various sets and scenarios that make your mouth drool as a talent evaluator.
He projects to be a day one starter in the NBA, but with one of the better developmental staff in the NBA out of San Antonio, he could benefit from a year playing with the Austin Spurs.
He currently holds offensive instincts that rival the best in the class, as he projects to be one of the better offensive talents in this class with ease.
In short, he has the ability to score and shoot the ball from anywhere on the floor, the variety of shot ranges he’s shown to be comfortable from, for such a young player is astounding. He displays his versatile passing ability throughout various offensive sets while body-wise he provides an archetype that can show him to run at any position 1-4.
Standing 6’9, with a 6’9 wingspan, his body places him to be a starting small forward or a small-ball power forward. Either way, he provides versatility at both forward spots due to his rangy offensive skillset, and his high-level team defense.
Two things San Antonio lacked this season from their forward spot was dynamic offensive outputs and in totality, defense. He provides solid team defense, strong rim rotations, and an overall high defensive motor that keeps him locked in on that part of the floor.
Deni allowed opposing players to shoot 49 percent at the rim when defended by him, and his play when defending the post placed him in the 88th percentile. Despite being listed as a small forward, his primary defensive possessions had him defending the paint.
His defense isn’t limited to being a paint presence, as he can defend out on the perimeter and has the skill and IQ to defend the pick and roll at an NBA-level.
But, what separates Avdija from the other players named here is how much better he is on the offensive end, while also being a very good defender on the opposite end. He has the playmaking ability that neither of the other candidates at the forward spots has, but he’s also a much better offensive talent off the bounce. Overall, he’s just a much better prospect.
With the selection of Deni Avdija, the San Antonio Spurs would get their forward of the future. He would finally fill the void that was left at the forward spot since the departure of Kawhi Leonard, as the Spurs selection of Avdija would pay dividends for the next decade.