2. Getting too cute
Choosing players seemingly based on raw potential alone is something the front office has done in recent years. That strategy has worked on late-first and some second-round picks (Manu at pick 57, Tony at 28, and Dejounte, Derrick, and Keldon at 29th), but not so much when the team has selected in the late lottery and middle of the first round.
One example of this was taking Lonnie Walker IV with the 18th overall pick in 2018. Though he was by all reports a great teammate and even better person, Lonnie’s athletic abilities never materialized into anything more than a spotty role player, and that’s not how the Spurs hoped he would develop when they drafted him. He had some unforgettable high-scoring performances (28 points in an overtime win over the Rockets), but he could never do that consistently.
Other examples include Luka Samanic (19th in 2019) and Josh Primo (12th in 2021). Both had all the talent in the world, but for seperate reasons that weren’t so much in the team’s control, could never capitalize on them. By getting cut a year after being taken in the lottery, Primo automatically became one of the biggest draft busts ever. Samanic’s story is less dramatic, but still disappointing relative to his draft slot. The Spurs can’t afford to do that again with a top-seven pick.