The 2020 NBA draft is almost upon us and for the first time in over 20 years, the Spurs will select in the lottery. After getting good value on late first round picks, PATFO will finally have an opportunity to snatch one of the top prospects in the class to hopefully inject even more young talent to a roster that boasts plenty of it already.
Rumors are flying about what teams’ targets are to the point where it’s hard to discern real interest from smoke screens, but surely the Spurs already have an idea of who they’d love to add to their young core.
With that in mind, let’s look at what we know, as we prepare for a draft that could be crucial for the franchise’s future.
When is it?
The draft will happen on Nov. 18 at 6 p.m. CST and will be televised by ESPN. We’ll have a thread where you’ll be able to chat with other Spurs fans when the broadcast starts.
What picks do the Spurs have?
The Spurs own the 11th and 41st overall picks. They will be picking in the lottery for the first time since selecting Tim Duncan first overall in 1997, so expectations are high. Having a relatively high second round pick could also allow them to get an interesting prospect that surprisingly drops, like they did when DeJuan Blair went 37th in 2009.
Who are the top prospects in the class?
Unlike other drafts, there is no consensus top pick. Instead, there are three prospects who seem to be on a tier of their own.
The most likely top pick going by most mocks is Anthony Edwards, a 19-year-old shooting guard from the University of Georgia. Edwards is a 6’5” athletic marvel, but there are some concerns about his decision-making that could potentially cost him the first overall spot. His body is NBA ready, so despite some concerns he seems like a safe pick.
LaMelo Ball, Lonzo Ball’s younger brother, could be Edwards’ biggest threat if someone falls in love with his significant potential. LaMelo is a 6’7” point guard with elite passing and court vision but is severely lacking as a scorer and decision-maker. His size makes him versatile, but he could be both exciting and infuriating early on in his career.
Finally, there’s James Wiseman. The 7’1” center was projected to be the top pick before missing most of his freshman season in Memphis while preparing for the draft. Wiseman is an elite athlete with star potential on both ends, but could be more of a project than an instant difference-maker, which could give some teams pause.
Who are the Spurs rumored to be interested in?
We likely won’t know everyone the Spurs are interested in, but there are reports out there linking them to prospects and we can make educated guesses going by who they’ve interviewed and worked out.
Players who have worked out for the Spurs: Deni Avdija (forward), Patrick Williams (forward), Theo Maledon (guard), Onyeka Okongwu (center), Terry Armstrong (guard).
Players who have interviewed with the Spurs (not a full list): Isaac Okoro (forward), Tyrese Maxey (guard), Jalen Smith (center), Tyrese Haliburton (guard).
The Spurs have interviewed Israeli wing Deni Avdija, who is expected to be gone by the time they pick but could be a target if they trade up. Similarly, center Onyeka Okongwu will likely be out of reach at 11th, so if the Spurs want him, they’ll probably have to make a move.
Among players who should be expected to be in range at the 11th pick, they have worked out small forward Patrick Williams and interviewed power forward Precious Achiuwa. They have also have expressed interest in small forward Saddiq Bey, according to reports.
Williams has been linked to the Spurs for a while, with several mock drafts having him landing in San Antonio, but recently his stock has risen, which could mean he’ll be gone by the time the Spurs pick. In that sense, Bey could be a good back up plan if the idea is to go with a small forward. The former Villanova standout doesn’t have the perceived potential of Williams, but his length and offensive ability could make him a solid starter at the NBA level.
Something similar happens with Okongwu and Achiuwa. Both are athletic big men who’d fill an immediate need in the roster, but Okongwu is expected to be gone when the Spurs select. Achiuwa doesn’t have the defensive acumen of Okongwu, but his motor and athletic tools could allow him to be a good two-way player.
The Spurs have also recently worked out Aaron Nesmith, a wing out of Vanderbilt. Nesmith is arguably the best shooter in his class. If the Spurs are looking for someone with 3-and-D potential, Nesmith could be their guy.
The reports about San Antonio interviewing and working out guards are interesting in that they suggest they are not ruling out adding backcourt talent despite having spent picks on point guards and shooting guards recently.
Can the Spurs trade up?
They definitely have the assets to potentially do it and there are teams ahead of them that could be amenable to a swap. The Warriors are reportedly open to moving down and a team like the Hawks could be willing to drop a few spots if it means getting a star in return. Whether Golden State is interested in LaMarcus Aldridge, like it has been rumored, or Atlanta believes DeMar DeRozan (if he opts in) fits well with Trae Young is unclear.
San Antonio also has several young players that could be intriguing to other teams. The question is whether the front office is willing to part with one of them on what could end up being a lateral move. This class doesn’t seem to have a clear-cut future superstar that would be worth the risk and with so much uncertainty near the top, the Spurs could simply decide to stay put and hope their preferred target drops.
Where can I find more information about prospects and more news about the Spurs’ potential targets?
We’ve got you covered. The Pounding the Rock staff has been working tirelessly to keep you informed about the draft process and will continue to do so. Just bookmark this page and check out regularly for updates. Also make sure to follow PtR on Twitter and Facebook for updates.