Spurs draft picks of the past five years: Where are they now?
By Rob Wolkenbrod
How have the San Antonio Spurs draft picks of the past five years performed?
The San Antonio Spurs have an extensive draft history, including players that went No. 1 overall or in the second round and found team success. The most recent drafts have uncovered players that impacted modern-day squads, as well.
From 2013 to 2017, San Antonio had 10 draft picks which ranged from the first to the second round. Some of them became NBA players while others fell out fast or drifted into the overseas game.
So, from the past five drafts, where are these former Spurs picks? Let’s take a look:
Livio Jean-Charles was once a Spurs draft-and-stash selection in 2013; At 6-foot-9, it made him an interesting prospect, with the hope of the other skills coming around after spending years overseas and in the G League. However, that never transpired.
Jean-Charles never appeared in an NBA game. Instead, he entered a training camp with San Antonio, but did not make the roster and mostly spent time trying to make an impression within the organization’s system.
For the past two seasons, Jean-Charles played for the Austin Spurs of the G League. He produced 10.6 points and 5.6 rebounds on 55.6 percent shooting, but without a three-point shot.
Any hope of Jean-Charles in the NBA seems over, for now, however, as he signed a three-year deal with ASVEL earlier this summer. It capped off an unremarkable five-year run domestically, so he will look to improve his stock in France.
Deshaun Thomas is a name college basketball fans, specifically Ohio State fans, will remember from the early 2010’s. This was on teams that included Jared Sullinger and Aaron Craft, both of whom found some professional basketball success.
Thomas went at No. 58 overall in the 2013 NBA Draft, but never appeared in an NBA game and spent just one season in the G League — two years after he was drafted. This resulted in 14.7 points, 6.2 rebounds and 2.2 assists on 51.8 shooting.
Otherwise, Thomas has made a name for himself overseas. After a stint with Maccabi Tel Aviv, he signed a contract with Panathinaikos for the 2018-19 season.
Kyle Anderson just wrapped up four years with the San Antonio Spurs; someone who was a bench player for three years but ascended into a starting role once Kawhi Leonard missed time. This priced Anderson out of San Antonio and led to him signing a four-year, $37.2 million contract with the Memphis Grizzlies in July.
However, in Anderson’s final Spurs season, his defensive acumen was on full display, with a 101 Defensive Rating that appealed to the “grit-and-grind” Grizzlies. The Silver and Black may miss that in the fall, but there’s still much to look back on from his four years, aside from this.
The Spurs selected McRae with the No. 58 pick of the 2014 NBA Draft, but he never appeared in a regular season or G League game for them. Instead, experience was garnered with the Phoenix Suns and the Cleveland Cavaliers, as recently as the 2016-17 season.
McRae played for Baskonia in 2017-18. So far, his home for the 2018-19 campaign remains in question after suffering a major shoulder injury.
Cory Jefferson went two picks after McRae in the 2014 NBA Draft as the last selection. He had two NBA stints, neither of which were with the Spurs, including 50 games with the Brooklyn Nets in the 2014-15 season.
Jefferson did appear for the San Antoni organization, though, in the G League’s 2016-17 season and spent time in the Summer League. The latter might result in a two-way contract down the line, since he continues to receive chances, but he will play for Darüşşafaka of Turkey in 2018-19.
Another San Antonio Spurs draft-and-stash pic, Nikola Milutinov went No. 26 overall in the 2015 NBA Draft. Given he never appeared in a domestic game for the Spurs, it’s easy to overlook this Serbian center in draft history.
Milutinov’s NBA prospects are unknown, as he’s three seasons post-draft. Olympiacos also extended him through the 2020 season, increasing the chances of him never appearing for the Spurs.
Manu Ginobili and Tiago Splitter took three years, respectively, to join the NBA after their selection. Milutinov’s will be five years by 2020, so is the prospect of him making the jump foregone?
Another Spurs second-round pick, Cady Lalanne went near the end of the second round of the 2015 NBA Draft. He spent the 2015-16 season with Austin of the G League and even made the All-Star game, averaging 13.3 points, 7.6 rebounds, 1.3 blocks and 46.9 percent shooting in 50 games.
Lalanne earned Summer League opportunities with San Antonio, but it never resulted in an NBA spot with them or any other organization. So, he took to the EuroLeague in 2017-18 with Enel Brindisi of Italy, nearly averaging a double-double of 15.7 points and 9.9 rebounds per game.
Maybe Lalanne finds his way onto an NBA roster or as a training camp invitee. For now, he will look for more success overseas.
Dejounte Murray might be just two years into his time with the San Antonio Spurs, but he has the chance to break through in 2018-19 and further expand his mark as the best draft pick of the past five years.
Murray only played one full NBA season, if the 2016-17 campaign does not count, since a chunk of it was spent in the G League. This past year, however, saw the physical tools go from projection to success, as he took home a spot on the All-NBA Defensive Second Team.
Before this, Murray was just the No. 29 overall pick of the 2016 NBA Draft, someone with the potential to go higher than this. Though, the lack of a jumpshot pushed him to the end of the first round.
With the progression in year two, it’s safe to call the selection of Murray a success. He’s still just 21 years old (will be 22 when the season starts), so Spurs fans have hardly seen the peak of his performance. This should only make the value of this 29th pick greater and make it stand out amongst what the organization has done in the draft since 2013.
Murray is also one of the few draft picks still with the Spurs since 2013. Not every selection pans out, but if he continues to progress in the NBA, it will make past failures nothing to scoff at.
Derrick White went to the San Antonio Spurs as the No. 29 pick of the 2017 NBA Draft, but spent most of his rookie season in the G League. It led to positive results, however, crossing 20 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal and 1 block per game, and as the catalyst towards the G League’s championship.
The 2018-19 campaign should trend differently for White. After a year of sporadic call-ups to the Spurs, he will look to secure a full-time role, especially without Danny Green and Tony Parker around. How he fulfills this over the next few seasons will go plenty towards how he’s viewed down the line.
Jaron Blossomgame went near the end of the second round, but was never heard of in the NBA season, due to only signing a G League deal. The Spurs still own his rights, though, which can play into the 2018-19 roster decision.
In the G League, Blossomgame averaged a cool 16.5 points and 8.1 rebounds per game in 50 appearances. He was another main part to Austin’s championship, and it put him on the radar for a Summer League appearance; this was followed through with 13 points and 7.6 rebounds per game.
Blossomgame will try to parlay this success into a training camp invite this fall. If that happens, and he does not make the roster, the Spurs lose the rights to their 2017 second-rounder. It’s a risk, so let’s see if they take it.