The San Antonio Spurs have found success at the end of the draft, something Los Angeles Lakers executive, Jesse Buss, used in scouting players.
The San Antonio Spurs have not selected in the lottery since the 1997 NBA Draft, taking Tim Duncan at No. 1 overall. 21 consecutive playoff appearances and five championships later, it placed the Spurs near or at the bottom of the first round. That included picking at No. 29 in the 2016 and 2017 NBA Drafts.
The Los Angeles Lakers had picks 2 and 27 — the latter via a draft-day trade with the Brooklyn Nets; it was used on Utah’s Kyle Kuzma, who in any other season that did not feature Donovan Mitchell, Ben Simmons and Jayson Tatum, would be a candidate for NBA Rookie of the Year. They also traded for Josh Hart’s draft rights — a player that showed promise as a role player.
This end-of-the-round success was rare for the Lakers, but maybe the start of a trend. Assistant general manager and director of scouting, Jesse Buss contributed to this success, and talked to Bleacher Report (h/t Lakers Nation) on his late-round inspiration:
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“I had seen other franchises such as the San Antonio Spurs. They were bringing in guys at the end of the first round, and they were still competing and contending. Maybe they didn’t play in their first or second year but eventually developing into solid role players.”
Who is Buss referring to? Let’s run down some of the players from the end of the first round:
- Tony Parker: No. 28 overall in the 2001 NBA Draft
- Beno Udrih: No. 28 overall in the 2004 NBA Draft
- Tiago Splitter: No. 28 overall in the 2007 NBA Draft
- George Hill: No. 26 overall in the 2008 NBA Draft
- Kyle Anderson: No. 30 overall in the 2014 NBA Draft
- Dejounte Murray: No. 29 overall in the 2016 NBA Draft
Each of these players found various degrees of success, but the first four either contributed to multiple playoff teams or won a championship with San Antonio. Anderson and Murray were part of the most recent postseason squads.
The Lakers will enter the 2018 NBA Draft in a similar situation, via another trade (Larry Nance Jr. and Jordan Clarkson for Channing Frye, Isaiah Thomas and the Cleveland Cavaliers first-round pick). This places them at No. 25, so there’s another opportunity for late-round success and to pad Buss’ resume. Will he find another diamond in the rough?