It's been a challenging start to the season for the San Antonio Spurs. For all the bright Victor Wembanyama highlights, there's been an equal amount of head-scratching frustration. No one could have reasonably expected the Spurs to make a night and day shift from their struggles last season. Even still, the first month of the season haven't been encouraging.
Between resolving their point guard situation, shoring up their perimeter defense, or finding a consistent frontcourt option besides Wemby or Zach Collins, the Spurs have quite a few needs they'll have to fill through the draft before they're ready to contend. Thanks to Brian Wright and a few well-designed trades they'll have plenty of bites at the apple.
From protections to swaps, the details of each draft pick in the Spurs' deep bag of acquired first-round picks can be hard to keep track of. To get the ideal pick haul San Antonio is going to need some teams to pull it together, some to take a massive dip, and others to stay on exactly the path they're on. Let's break down who needs to do what in the best-case scenario for the Spurs.
Root for the Charlotte Hornets to avoid the draft lottery
If the San Antonio Spurs want to see their pick from the Charlotte Hornets convey this year they'll need this rudderless bunch to get their act together. The lottery protected first defers to 2025 if the Hornets end up in the top 14. If Charlotte falls to the lottery again the pick gets bounced to 2026 and drops to a mere second-rounder.
To the surprise of absolutely no one, the Hornets are once again one of the worst teams in the NBA. There are bright spots up and down the roster. LaMelo Ball is one of the most exciting point guards in the league, Brandon Miller has struggled but there's talent there, and Mark Williams has emerged as a promising big man that Charlotte can build around.
Put potential doesn't always translate to production and we're seeing that play out in Charlotte. Through 15 games they're owners of the worst defensive rating in the league, and rank 27th in net rating, and their offense, while fast-paced and occasionally flashy, is brutally undercut by a lack of reliable three-point shooting.
If we're being realistic about the potential of this pick, can we all come to agree that the chances of this conveying as a first-rounder this year are slim to none? This Hornets bunch is young, they've been dogged by a multitude of off-the-court distractions, they're on pace to become the worst defense in franchise history, and news just came out that Ball is going to miss significant time recovering from a severe ankle sprain. Something tells me this isn't the year that Charlotte's lottery streak is going to break.
So cheer for the Hornets this year if you want to, but better to look to next year for Charlotte to break out of the lottery next year. Give this group another year to gel and improve and I think they could catch us by surprise and end up getting to the playoffs through the play-in tournament.