Why the San Antonio Spurs should consider trading their first round pick

DALLAS, TX - NOVEMBER 18: Head Coach Gregg Popovich, and Assistant Coach Tim Duncan of the San Antonio Spurs look on against the Dallas Mavericks on November 18, 2019 (Photo by Glenn James/NBAE via Getty Images)
DALLAS, TX - NOVEMBER 18: Head Coach Gregg Popovich, and Assistant Coach Tim Duncan of the San Antonio Spurs look on against the Dallas Mavericks on November 18, 2019 (Photo by Glenn James/NBAE via Getty Images) /

They’ll have their highest pick in decades but in what some are calling a weaker than usual draft the San Antonio Spurs should consider trading down

One of the things keeping San Antonio Spurs fans going throughout the season suspension has been the promise of the teams’ upcoming 2020 first-round pick. After grinding through one of their toughest seasons in years, the Spurs will have the silver lining of their highest draft pick since Tim Duncan to send them into the summer.

It is a little bit more complicated than that. Just last week the NBA made the smart decision to delay the 2020 Draft Lottery and Combine. So we can do all of the mock drafting and prospect scouting we want, but the uncertainty around where the Spurs are picking makes things complicated.

As of today, San Antonio has a 9.4 percent chance of getting a top-four pick. Don’t let that spoil your dreams of seeing James Wiseman in Spurs uniform though, New Orleans had just a 6 percent chance at landing Zion Williamson last year. Crazier things have happened before. But the smart money would be on the Spurs picking 11th.

However, let’s just say San Antonio does luck into a top-four pick. How certain can they be that trading down wouldn’t be the smart move? Most of the projected top-four picks are guards, the folks over at The Ringer have six of the top ten prospects on their big board listed as guards.

Between Lonnie Walker, Dejounte Murray, and Derrick White the Spurs already have a glut of promising guard talent. Point guard is the deepest position in the league right now and taking another guard to add to the group wouldn’t be the worst play, but could San Antonio get a better value later in the draft?

Obi Toppin is an interesting prospect but he’s struggled on defense and that would be an issue for a Spurs team that struggled on that end of the floor this year. Isaac Okoro would answer a lot of San Antonio’s defensive issues but he doesn’t seem like a top-four pick at this point. The only two non-guard prospects the Spurs should consider in the top-four would have to be Wiseman and Onyeka Okongwu.

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Assuming that the Spurs do land at their projected slot at 11, should they take a chance on someone like RJ Hampton or Deni Avdija, or move back even further in exchange for more assets? It would be slightly frustrating to see the team move back out of such a high pick but San Antonio has done such an excellent job in the later parts of the draft that you’d have to trust that the front office knew what it was doing.

Just look at who the Spurs have been able to get at pick 29 over the past couple of years. Murray, White, and Keldon Johnson all came with the second to last pick in the first round. That’s a lot better of a track record than most teams have for picking so late in the draft, who is to say that San Antonio couldn’t find another gem this year?

Put simply, the Spurs have a lot of areas they need to shore up. They’ve got a few promising young players but need to fill out the rest of the roster with similarly exciting talent if they want to get back to their previous level. Yes, the team is in need of a leading scorer. But if the front office isn’t 100 percent sure that that’s what they would be getting with their first-round pick then it would be better to move back and trust that they can find another role player later in the draft.

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The NBA hasn’t formally moved the draft away from its scheduled June 25th date but that’s likely to happen. It’s not a bad thing for the San Antonio Spurs, they could use all the time they can get in order to make this important pick.