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Are the San Antonio Spurs as Good at Drafting as Everyone Thinks?

San Antonio Spurs
(Kamil Krzacyznski/Associated Press)

Can the San Antonio Spurs Actually Draft?

There seems to be this idea out there that the San Antonio Spurs front office is incredible at drafting players. “The Spurs are such a smart organization, I trust them in the draft.” Stuff like that. It’s probably expected that people feel this way given the Spurs major success under head coach Gregg Popovich, winning five NBA titles since 1998. For as excellent as San Antonio has been at producing winning basketball teams over the last twenty years, I really don’t think they are all that good when it comes to the NBA Draft.

I am primarily writing this article because of the Spurs’ recent decision to draft Alabama guard Josh Primo with the No. 12 pick, one of the most questionable decisions of the 2021 NBA Draft. This selection made me look back at the Spurs draft history to see if it might justify what pretty much everyone considered to be a crazy pick. In my estimation, not really.

San Antonio Spurs Recent Draft History

In the last 10 NBA Drafts, the Spurs have had two picks that I would classify as “good.” (FYI, trading for Kawhi Leonard in the 2011 draft was 11 drafts ago, so that’s a good one that I am not including.) Those two picks are Keldon Johnson in 2019 and Dejounte Murray in 2016. Derrick White in 2017 could be included too I guess, but that feels like more of a reach to me.

Keldon Johnson is a nice supporting piece who just averaged 12 points per game in his second year, but he doesn’t look like the he’ll become the type of wing to take over a game or lead a team on a deep playoff run. I think Dejounte Murray is really good and he’s just 24 years old, but that can’t be the only real hit for a team to be good in the draft.

The Spurs Need More from Their Recent Draft Picks

Most other franchises in the NBA have drafted a bonafide star or verifiable star-in-development over the last 10 drafts. I don’t know that I can say the same for the Spurs. When it comes to the NBA Draft, the fact is that most picks don’t pan out. Despite that, I don’t know that the Spurs have hit on enough picks to justify the idea that they are good at drafting.


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