Grading the Athletic’s Spurs picks in latest 2024 NBA mock draft

The Athletic's Sam Vecenie had two first-round selections for the San Antonio Spurs in his latest 2024 NBA mock draft. Here's how we'd grade his picks.

Nikola Topic (center) - Fenerbahce Beko v Kizilyildiz - Turkish Airlines Euroleague
Nikola Topic (center) - Fenerbahce Beko v Kizilyildiz - Turkish Airlines Euroleague / Anadolu/GettyImages
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Spurs select Matas Buzelis 7th overall

This season’s laundry list of G League Ignite prospects has been particularly tough to analyze. The team has had a lot of trouble winning games, currently sitting at 2 wins and 19 losses for the regular season, and the various young draft prospects are woefully ill-fitting together. In that sort of context, statistics and general output can be deceiving.

At 6-foot-10 and a lean 209 pounds, Matas Buzelis is averaging 12.9 points, 6.5 rebounds, 1.7 blocks, and 1.6 assists per game. At his size, his ability to dribble, pass, and shoot will make him highly coveted in a draft class where teams have to search quite a bit harder for meaningful upside near the top of the board. The Spurs are desperately in need of more players who can comfortably handle the rock, shoot it well, and not be a ball stopper, and being that Buzelis has some tangible defensive upside on top of that, this swing is quite a bit easier to stomach compared to Topic.

Again, though, this selection would carry some risk as well. Buzelis was dubbed an elite shooter coming into the season as he shot over 43% from three on a high volume of shots during his senior year of high school at Sunrise Christian Academy.

In the G League, he’s only knocked down 28% of his three-point shots, and scouting reports suggest his shooting in his junior year of high school at Brewster Academy was similarly inefficient. His mechanics look good, and he’s slowly been improving throughout the season (shooting 39% from three over his past 10 games), but his inconsistent shooting history shouldn’t be discounted entirely.

Even with that risk, however, based on my personal big board, Buzelis would be the best player available at 7th overall in Vecenie’s mock draft, so this would be the correct choice. Like with Topic, if you’re a believer in Buzelis’ top-end outcome in the league, selecting him 7th overall is a good value.

Grade: A-