Losing is never fun, but there’s always a silver and lining—or in the case of the San Antonio Spurs, a black and silver lining.
Now officially five games behind the Memphis Grizzlies for the eighth seed in the Western Conference, the dawn of a new era in San Antonio Spurs basketball is upon us. The 22-year playoff streak in the Alamo City is close to being eradicated and with it, a yearslong tradition of celebrating playoff success for the silver and black.
However, this losing streak also comes with a dose of reality. This year’s Spurs group doesn’t have a clear identity with veterans inhibiting the progression of young players and vice versa. Missing the playoffs is going to be a harsh dose of reality for San Antonio’s front office that’s likely to spark change, whether it be to cater to the youth or buy-in on the vets.
Either way, taking the next step is going to require draft capital and the Spurs are looking at their highest draft pick since they selected Tim Duncan first overall in 1997. According to Tankathon.com, a site that Spurs fans should be getting accustomed to now that the team is in this position, San Antonio’s most likely falling spot in the draft order is 11th overall.
However, due to some innovative changes to the draft lottery implemented by NBA commissioner Adam Silver to prevent intentional tanking, the odds have changed drastically.
In previous years, the 11th-ranked team had less than a one percent chance to win the first overall selection. Since the changes, the team in that eleventh spot has a three percent chance at winning No. 1 overall. San Antonio could theoretically jump into the top-four just by the luck of the draw.
We’ve profiled four of the most interesting prospects in this draft class as potential candidates to become Spurs: Daniel Oturu, Deni Avdija, Obi Toppin and Jaden McDaniels. Each of these prospects are likely to go in the lottery and bring some flair to the Spurs’ frontcourt. They’re all great candidates to land in the Alamo City to help alleviate some of the pressure of this next phase.
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Another option for San Antonio is to trade their draft pick, which becomes especially valuable with these increased odds. If the Spurs get to pick in the top four, they could pretty easily maneuver that in a package to become a better team immediately. It’s not necessarily the best move for the future, but it helps limit the amount of time this organization spends out of the playoff picture.
Even if the Spurs continue losing moving forward, it’ll be for the sake of winning later on. A lottery pick is always going to be valuable in the NBA, but the allure of an improved pick from where they’re slotted to draft now could seriously change the organization’s outlook.
No, losing isn’t fun or easy, but it’s signaling that the future is now for the Spurs’ decision-makers, and that’s something to be excited about.