9 Lingering Questions From Draft Night


Are The San Antonio Spurs the greatest drafting team ever?

San Antonio has only been in the NBA lottery 4 times since 1987 and they have won it twice (David Robinson & Tim Duncan). Besides the obvious number one pick Hall of Famer’s, the San Antonio Spurs are better at finding talent outside of the United States than any other team in the league. Without talking about how good they are at finding pure basketball players via free agency or trade, I’ll share players they’ve drafted since 2000 that have helped build San Antonio into what it is today.

Tony Parker (Belgium) – TP was taken 28th overall and is now a 4 time NBA champion along with being the 2007 NBA Finals MVP. Parker was the youngest point guard to start an NBA game since Magic Johnson. Parker has established himself as one of the best international players in league history. His pick illustrates the collaborative strength that makes the Spurs what they are. 2001 assistant GM R.C. Buford and future Oklahoma City boss Sam Presti convinced Gregg Popovich to give Parker another look after he failed to impress in an initial workout, good thing Pop decided to listen.

Manu Ginobili (Buenos Aires) – I have already mentioned that Manu was the 57th pick overall. He is also a 4 time NBA champion along with being arguably the greatest sixth man to play the game. Based on his career Win Shares/48 minutes of .209, it is good enough to be the 13th best in league history; just behind Duncan at .211. Ginobili was the best overall player in 1999, making him quite possibly the greatest value in draft history after being taken 57th. Ginobili’s durability knocks his actual worth down, considering he has missed approximately 20 percent of his games and had his minutes closely managed even in his prime. Durability is one of the big reasons he has always been such a great sixth man instead of a starting wing player.

Tiago Splitter (Brazil) – In his 4th season with the San Antonio Spurs he continues to be an absolute success. His best season with San Antonio was 2012-13 (24.7 minutes per game, 10.3 points, 6.4 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 0.8 blocks, 0.8 steals, 18.7 PER.) when they lost in the NBA Finals, but played a large role in winning the 2013-14 NBA Finals. Splitter has been valuable for the Spurs, as a defender next to Duncan, cleaning up the glass, and finishing at the rim. Interestingly enough, he actually ranks No. 2 among 2007 draftees in win shares per 48 minutes (0.188), barely behind league MVP Kevin Durant (0.189).

Cory Joseph (Canada) – It might be surprising to see Joseph on this list of greats and a rising star in Splitter, but he is just another example of how they can find even the best role players in other countries. He has shown flashes of brilliance during his first three seasons with the Spurs, but hasn’t been able to concrete himself a role on this team. Joseph’s minutes are all over the place, but Joseph’s career WS/48 is higher than the following players: Klay Thompson, Reggie Jackson, Nikola Vucevic, Derrick Williams (2nd overall pick), the Morris twins, Iman Shumpert, and Kemba Walker. San Antonio has decided they’ve seen enough in Joseph that they like so they’ve picked up his 4th year option. Watch for Joseph to be that next Patty Mills who skyrockets his NBA stock during next season’s playoffs while coming off the bench.

Kawhi Leonard (USA) – Now I understand that Leonard is from California and I also understand that San Antonio didn’t draft Leonard (Indiana 15th overall), but they did trade for him on draft night (Indiana received George Hill). Either way, San Antonio was able to see the potential in the eventual 2014 NBA Finals MVP. Observers wondered at the time how Leonard could have slipped so far, and those questions have only grown now that he has established himself as one of the league’s premier players. The only question was if Leonard would have enough perimeter skills to be a pure small forward. That talk seems silly now that he’s added a legitimate 3-point shot and continues to improve his perimeter skills (as showcased in the NBA Finals). Leonard is a gym rat with a relentless work ethic and will eventually become the face of the franchise one of these years when Duncan and the gang decide to call it quits. I don’t think anybody is questioning Leonard anymore. If you ever run into LeBron James instead of asking for his autograph or a picture; ask him if he thinks Kawhi can handle that task, he’ll tell you he’s ready.

Kyle Anderson (USA) – Anderson is not from another country, but he was the Spurs’ first round selection this season at #30. Kyle Anderson is an excellent fit for San Antonio because he is an excellent passer with a good offensive game. Just months before the draft Anderson said, “I love to be drafted by the Spurs, the way they play the game is beautiful to watch”. It looks like his dream came true. He isn’t a terrific defender, but that Spurs drafted him because he can play point forward as well as anybody at the college level. He has excellent court vision and will fit in immediately. Anderson was an All-Pac-12 first-team selection last season; the 6’9” 230 pound kid from NY averaged 14.6 points, 6.5 assists and 8.8 rebounds while leading UCLA to the Sweet 16. Despite solid numbers, some NBA scouts feared Anderson lacks the athleticism and defensive ability to thrive in the league. As a member of the San Antonio Spurs he is a triple double waiting to happen.

Answer: The San Antonio Spurs are either the greatest drafting team of all time, or else they’re just the luckiest.

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1 Comment

  1. Quzani

    February 14, 2016 at 12:34 am

    God does give us weaknesses so we can be hmbule and ask him for help after we tried to gain streghnth on our own. He want’s us to try and not sit back and wait for the blessing to happen. Nice blog topic. I myself need to ask for help more and soften my heart and stop being stubborn thinking I can accomplish something by myself with out any help.

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