The San Antonio Spurs will not be part of the 2018 NBA Draft Lottery, but there’s every reason to keep an eye on it.
For the 21st consecutive year, the San Antonio Spurs will not be part of the draft lottery. That’s what happens when a team makes the playoffs for 21 consecutive seasons, the longest mark in the NBA. They last had a lottery pick in 1997, with the selection of Tim Duncan.
Tuesday’s lottery show will determine the first 14 picks of the 2018 NBA Draft, and since San Antonio sits at No. 18, their spot remains the same for June’s event. However, there’s every reason to keep an eye on the night’s festivities.
Why? It starts and ends with Kawhi Leonard, the ever-lasting narrative of the 2018 offseason.
The Philadelphia 76ers were recently rumored to have interest in Leonard. That’s along with the Los Angeles Clippers. It’s only speculation, but one would think the Spurs can get a 2018 first-round pick in a package for their superstar—even as high as the lottery after a season-long quad injury, which the Clippers and Sixers will be part of.
The odds are relatively low for Los Angeles, but they own two first-round picks, positioned at No. 12 and 13, and have a combined 1.3 percent chance at the No. 1 overall selection. So it’s not inconceivable that Doc Rivers’ team moves up.
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For the Sixers, due to a trade that gave them the Los Angeles Lakers’ pick (one that took years to come to fruition), they sit at No. 10 and have a 1.1 percent chance at the top choice. While not great odds, teams have claimed the No. 1 pick from this low in the lottery before.
It’s not just the Clippers and Sixers, either. The New York Knicks were speculated as a landing spot, and they have a 1.7 percent chance at the top pick. If their interest in Leonard is serious, the higher pick may be needed for them more than the other teams, with fewer assets to offer in a package.
Basically, the higher the pick, the better value it has to not just the Spurs but any team. It’s not rocket science or the Triangle offense. The better pick may mean these teams can give up less from their actual roster and use the higher-value picks as ammunition, especially if one of them climbs into the top five.
So even though there’s no indication the Spurs will trade Leonard this offseason, the lottery still matters, given the potential suitors, if the front office decides to move their would-be face of the franchise. It may not mean anything now, but in five weeks, a pick in the top 10 (even the top five) could be a centerpiece of a considered-proposal.