Who are the three best second-round picks in San Antonio Spurs history?
The San Antonio Spurs have found success in the first round of the NBA Draft. Tim Duncan, David Robinson, Tony Parker and Sean Elliott all became home-run picks and impacted the franchise in championship ways.
The second round is a different story. It’s not the most glamorous part of the draft process, as most of these players fail to find long-term success in the NBA or rarely turn into the superstars that the first round offers.
For the Spurs, they discovered a few gems in the second round, whether these players lasted just one or two years with the organization or 16. Who does it include on this super-short list of picks? Let’s take a look:
Honorable mention: DeJuan Blair
That’s not to say DeJuan Blair was the fourth-best second-round pick in Spurs history, but he did play four halfway decent years with the franchise from 2009-13. He faded out of the league soon after.
3. Tyrone Corbin: Round 2, Pick 35 in 1985 NBA Draft
Recent NBA fans may know Tyrone Corbin as the coach that had stints with the Utah Jazz and Sacramento Kings, both of which resulted in his firing. However, he fulfilled a 16-year career in the NBA as the ultimate journeyman.
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It started in 1985 when the San Antonio Spurs selected Corbin No. 35 overall in the draft. He only spent parts of two seasons there, however, as a 6′ 6” small forward — slightly undersized for this era of basketball at the three spot. This was in just 47 games, before the Spurs waived him in the 1986-87 season.
From there Corbin bounced to eight other teams across the next 14 years. No stint ever lasted more than three full seasons until the Atlanta Hawks from 1996-99, when he was 34 years old. Other teams he played for lasted just one-plus seasons or only parts of three seasons.
Corbin’s breakout seasons happened at age 28, the prime year for plenty of professional athletes, with 18 points, 7.2 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 2.0 steals for the Minnesota Timberwolves. It happened in 39 minutes per game across all 82 of the season. It happened on a 29-win team but managed to give him some longevity.
Corbin’s career wrapped up in a 15-game stint with the Toronto Raptors in 2000-01 and finished with a 16-year line of 9.2 points and 4.7 rebounds. It all started with the Spurs, even though he had a cup of coffee there.
Next: Kevin Duckworth
2. Kevin Duckworth: Round 2, Pick 33 in 1986 NBA Draft
NBA fans will remember Kevin Duckworth as the one-handed shooting center that played on those early 1990’s Portland Trail Blazers teams. However, before he joined Clyde Drexler, Terry Porter and Jerome Kersey, there was the 1986 NBA Draft.
At No. 33 overall the San Antonio Spurs selected Duckworth. If fans do not remember him in the Silver and Black, that’s probably understandable since they rostered him for just 14 games in the 1986-87 season. Then came the trade that sent him to the Blazers for Walter Berry.
From there Duckworth found success in six and a half seasons in Portland, two of which resulted in NBA Finals appearances (losses to the Detroit Pistons in 1990 and the Chicago Bulls in 1992). In the regular season, he averaged a respectable 13.6 points and 6.3 rebounds, with a peak season of 18.1 points, 8.0 rebounds and an all-star game appearance in 1988-89 (another all-star nod in 1990-91).
After Portland, Duckworth had two seasons with the Washington Bullets, a shortened one with the Milwaukee Bucks and some time with the Los Angeles Clippers. Injuries riddled his final few years, though, and led to retirement at age 32.
It all started with the Spurs, even if it was just 14 games. The pick might not have become a success for them, but Duckworth still became a quality NBA player.
Next: Manu Ginobili
1. Manu Ginobili: Round 2, Pick 57 in 1999 NBA Draft
As if Manu Ginobili as the top second-round pick in San Antonio Spurs history was not inevitable. He’s light years ahead of any Spurs draft selection after the first round, so let’s look back at one of the best players in franchise history.
San Antonio selected Ginobili at No. 57, a spot that usually finds international players that stay overseas for a few years or never make the jump to the NBA. The former became the case, with a three-year wait before his NBA debut in the 2002-03 season.
Ginobili received an expanded role in his second season and soared as a member of the “Big 3,” with David Robinson retired and a primary role open in the rotation. This began a long line of magical plays, dazzling scoring performances and a key to three more titles after 2003 (2005, 2007, 2014).
Eventually, Ginobili tailed off once injuries started to pile up. Though, by the time this happened, at age 34, he already developed a prominent spot in franchise history and remains with them, as of June 7, before a potential decision on a 17th NBA season. His 13.3 points per game might not jump off the page, but the impact goes far beyond the numbers, and who knows how much better it would have been elsewhere, as the primary scorer.
Still, at No. 57, teams never find gems. The Spurs did with Ginobili, even with a multi-year wait, and he turned into a franchise icon.