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SBNation Blogger Mock Draft: The Spurs select Deni Avdija 11th

In what would be among the most desirable scenarios, the mock Spurs found themselves spoiled for choice at 11, ultimately going with Israeli wing Deni Avdija.

NBA: All Star-Borders Global Camp Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

It took us until November and through election day week, but SBNation finally held its annual Blogger Mock Draft, which means the long-awaited 2020 Draft is mere days away. For the fourth straight year I was able to take part and try to guess who the Spurs may fixate on this time around.

You can click on the posts below to check out our previous picks.

As you can see, I am thus far 0 for 4 in seeing my first-round picks come to fruition, which is mostly because I know nothing but also because these exercises inevitably end up reflecting the sensibilities of each teams’ respective bloggers at least as much as the thought process of their actual front offices. On the whole, they’re an attempt to simulate a draft but each pick is far more about preference than an attempt to predict.

Without further ado, here’s how the first 10 picks in the 2020 Blogger Mock Draft shook out. (As a note, no trades were allowed in this mock draft, which is just one way this will differ from actual draft night)

  1. Minnesota Timberwolves - Anthony Edwards
  2. Golden State Warriors - James Wiseman
  3. Charlotte Hornets - LaMelo Ball
  4. Chicago Bulls - Killian Hayes
  5. Cleveland Cavaliers - Onyeka Okongwu
  6. Atlanta Hawks - Isaac Okoro
  7. Detroit Pistons - RJ Hampton
  8. New York Knicks - Devin Vassell
  9. Washington Wizards - Tyrese Halliburton
  10. Phoenix Suns - Kira Lewis Jr

While there isn’t exactly a consensus top 10 in this draft, there are surprises here in Hampton and Lewis, two guards who have gotten some lottery buzz but are more often than not projected to be on the board at 11. Vassell from Florida State looks on the bubble as a player that may be there for San Antonio, but his selection by New York (one real-life contender to trade up on November 18th) wasn’t altogether surprising.

And since draft risers beget draft fallers, that left the Spurs with a surprising handful of options that would fill their needs in the frontcourt: namely, Deni Avdija of Maccabi Tel Aviv, Patrick Williams of Florida State, and National Player of the Year Obi Toppin from Dayton. Williams is an option who very well may be there at 11, and he’s one they should definitely take a look at as an athletic big wing whose upside exceeds his projected draft slot. Despite concerns about his defense, Toppin comes in with a ready-made offensive game, and he would give guys like Dejounte Murray and Derrick White the kind of lob threat and dynamic pick-and-roll partner that could unlock their still-budding games; I’m not as worried about his defense if his offense is good enough to carry lineups that feature defensive specialists at other slots.

I’d be fine with the Spurs taking Toppin or Williams at 11, and there are a handful of other players still on the board that I can also see a case for. Instead, with the 11th pick in the Blogger Mock Draft, the PtR Mock Spurs couldn’t pass up on the 19-year-old Avdija.

I’m a fan of Avdija’s—he’s 7th in my overall big board and higher when it comes to addressing the Spurs’ needs. He’s probably not going to score as easily as Toppin, and he doesn’t have the defensive upside of Williams, but his high basketball IQ, craftiness, and well-rounded game give him a good floor—with enough potential left over to see him become a quality starter, or more. Unless you worry that his poor free-throw shooting numbers are indicative of his long-term potential as a floor stretcher, you have to like his upside as a two-way wing that brings playmaking to a young Spurs core lacking that premiere initiator. I encourage you to read the Notorious NM-G’s profile on Avdija, but here’s a nice scouting video on him:

It’s likely that Avdija won’t be there at 11 on draft night, which is what both had me excited to nab him and what should temper expectations to see this on November 18th. That said, the Spurs did reportedly conduct one of their 10 workouts with the Israeli forward, and they’ve long had a weakness for international talent. Between the possibility that they like him enough to move up and the general unpredictability of any draft, it’s not that crazy to imagine Avdija in Fiesta colors next season.