San Antonio Spurs: Recent history of 49th pick in the NBA Draft
By Rob Wolkenbrod
The San Antonio Spurs own the No. 49 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft. Let’s look back at the recent history of this selection.
The San Antonio Spurs own two picks in the 2018 NBA Draft, at No. 18 in Round 1 and No. 49 in Round 2. San Antonio rarely makes draft-day maneuvers, so under this assumption, it seems likely for them to remain at these slots.
The first round often finds future All-Stars but not so much for the final 30 picks, especially as deep as No. 49. Given this pick’s recent history, it may be difficult for San Antonio to find a replacement-level player or someone to fill out their roster.
There’s a short history behind the No. 49 pick. Let’s look back at who teams chose at this spot over the past five drafts:
2017: Vlatko Cancar, Denver Nuggets
Given how deep this pick is in the NBA Draft, seeing an international prospect go at least once at No. 49 comes as little surprise. That’s what happened in 2017, when the Denver Nuggets selected Vlatko Cancar, a 6’8” forward from Serbia.
Cancar profiles as a shooter, but is that all he may be in the NBA. At 210 pounds, according to Draft Express, it would be difficult to go against the bigger NBA defenders at his size. That’s if he ever joins the Nuggets, since as of the 2017-18 season’s end, he was stashed overseas.
The book is not out on Cancar, nor may it ever be published. He has the skill every NBA team loves, but would it be enough to make it in the United States?
Next: 2015 and 2016
2016: Michael Gbinije, Detroit Pistons
Michael Gbinije will be a name college basketball fans remember. He was part of Jim Boeheim’s Syracuse teams for three years before entering the 2016 NBA Draft.
Gbinije heard his name called on draft night by the Detroit Pistons. As a 6’7” shooting guard, there seemed to be some upside for him. However, he was age 24 when the Pistons selected him, and it’s viewed as a point where there’s little to no potential for a collegiate prospect to fulfill. That’s partly why so many freshmen and sophomores are selected higher in the draft process.
Despite the odds, Gbinije still made his NBA debut in the 2016-17 season. It was only for nine games in garbage minutes. He’tried to return with the Golden State Warriors in 2017-18, but was waived and signed with the Santa Cruz Warriors of the G League. At just 42.7 percent shooting and 8.8 points per game, it may not be enough to get him back to the pro level.
2015: Aaron White, Washington Wizards
Aaron White heard his name called by the Washington Wizards in 2015. A power forward from Iowa, he had the size at 6’9” and had a chance at some success, but nothing came to fruition for him in the NBA.
White played for the Wizards in the 2015 Summer League, but just weeks later he began a career overseas and has not turned back. That includes stints with the Zenit Saint Petersburg and Zalgiris Kaunas.
It’s possible White never gets heard from in the NBA. That’s the case with some players that go in the late second round. For the San Antonio Spurs, it’s possible this happens too in the 2018 NBA Draft.
Next: 2013 and 2014
2014: Cameron Bairstow, Chicago Bulls
Of all the recent No. 49 picks so far, Cameron Bairstow has the most NBA experience by a longshot. He entered the league in 2014 as a draft pick of the Chicago Bulls and saw stints in two different seasons, playing 36 games across 2014-16, averaging 1.2 points on 29.6 percent shooting.
Bairstow had the NBA body that may have partially given him the chance, at 6’9” and 250 pounds. However, as the Bulls made changes in the 2016 offseason, they traded him to the Detroit Pistons for Spencer Dinwiddie (who carved out a nice career with the Brooklyn Nets), and the New Mexico product has not played in the pros since.
Since this trade, Bairstow has played in Australia’s National Basketball League. He suffered a knee injury, though, and missed significant time in the 2017-18 campaign.
2013: Erik Murphy, Chicago Bulls
Rounding out the recent No. 49 picks, Erik Murphy was selected by the Chicago Bulls in the 2013 NBA Draft from Florida. At 6’10”, he represented a big body for an NBA team, and that’s what he was for the 2013-14 campaign.
Murphy appeared in 24 games, most of which in garbage time, and shot 23.1 percent in 2.6 minutes. He has not played in an NBA game since.
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Since then, Murphy has bounced between overseas teams and G League squads, including the Austin Spurs (the San Antonio Spurs affiliate), Besiktas and Oklahoma City Blue. So it’s possible he still finds a way back on an NBA roster, but it seems like a longshot.