It’s unlikely that the San Antonio Spurs will end up making a draft-night deal
The San Antonio Spurs have been, without a doubt, the model of excellence in the NBA over the last two decades. You’re probably all tired of hearing the same thing- this past season, the Spurs missed the playoffs for the first time since 1997. The 22-year streak was old enough to buy itself a beer and older than over 50 current players. No playoffs means a lottery pick, and we all know what happened last time the silver and black picked in the top 14.
Of course, the likelihood of San Antonio picking another Hall-of-Famer with the 11th pick in this draft is unlikely. Recently, the number 11 pick has produced some solid players for teams picking at that spot. But, like any pick, there have also been some flops. In any case, picking at 11 is a huge opportunity for the Spurs to add to their already solid core.
But what about a trade?
Any and every GM does their due diligence in looking at potential Draft Night trades, and I’m sure Brian Wright will do the same. You have to like the potential of the players that are projected to be coming off the board around 11. Players such as Devin Vassell, Patrick Williams, Aaron Nesmith, and Saddiq Bey would all be able to help the Spurs right away. It’s possible that San Antonio targets a big too. In his latest mock draft The Athletic’s Sam Vecenie (subscription required) said this about what he’s hearing out of San Antonio:
“I will also note that the Spurs are said to be deeply evaluating the big men in this class across the spectrum, from Isaiah Stewart and Daniel Oturu to Precious Achiuwa and Jalen Smith. I don’t know that they’d take one of those guys at No. 11. But could they move back to try to take one?”
We’ve had articles flying out about potential Spurs trades. There certainly is a case for the Spurs to both move up and drop down in the draft. If you’re holding your breath waiting for the Spurs to make a move… don’t.
History tells us that the San Antonio Spurs probably won’t make a trade
You’ve heard the knock on the Spurs before- they’re boring, they don’t do anything exciting, blah, blah, blah. In certain cases, those are fair critiques. San Antonio has made just five trades since the 2013-14 season. Besides the Kawhi Leonard deal in 2018, which they were strong-armed into making, none of them have been particularly exciting deals.
Some names involved have been DeMarre Carroll in 2019, Boris Diaw in 2016, Tiago Splitter in 2015, and the Nando de Colo for Austin Daye swap in 2014. Sure, Splitter and Diaw are relatively big Spurs names, but they aren’t franchise-altering moves.
The numbers back it up too. General Managers have varying levels of aggressiveness in deals (Boston has made 24 trades since 2014) and obviously, each team’s situation is different. For comparison reasons, I took the top 10 teams in wins since the Spurs’ last championship in 2014. In order, those teams are Golden State, Toronto, San Antonio, Houston, Los Angeles (Clippers), Oklahoma City, Portland, Indiana, Boston, and Miami. In the last three seasons, each of those teams has made more trades than the Spurs have since 2014.
I want to make it clear – I’m not criticizing the sometimes stale nature of the Spurs front office. Have we all been upset the last few seasons with the lack of shuffling taking place with the roster? Yeah, probably. Around last year’s draft, I really wanted the Spurs to get rid of Patty Mills on a draft-night deal. Instead, the Spurs stayed put, and I ate my words as he put a career-best 11.6 points per game this season.
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That’s not to say I would mind them moving some of their expiring contracts. Dejounte Murray is the only Spur with a contract that goes past 2020, and Murray, White, and Walker should be the only pieces they aren’t willing to part with. Everyone is should be considered up for grabs by opposing GMs.
Looking at the numbers, the likelihood is things won’t change with the 2020 draft.
This year is unique for the Spurs. They have their highest draft pick in over 20 years, and this draft is better known for its potential late lottery gems rather than top-heavy talent. There are some interesting packages the Spurs can put together to move in the draft, and if I were to guess, it would be down.
Because of the lack of surefire talent at the top of the board, the likelihood of trading up in the order is unlikely. Of course, if the Spurs are in love with someone like Deni Avdija, who is projected in the top 5, and they drop, it’s a little different. If some of the aforementioned wings and forwards the Spurs like are available at 11, then keep the pick. If a team like Portland (who has the 16th pick) comes knocking and offers a solid return for LaMarcus Aldridge, the Spurs should consider that too.
If you’re holding your breath waiting for a draft-night trade by the San Antonio Spurs, you can probably exhale. The likelihood is it isn’t coming.