How the three worst seasons in Spurs history turned the franchise around

San Antonio v Washington Wizards
San Antonio v Washington Wizards / G Fiume/GettyImages

The San Antonio Spurs are having quite a run for one of the bottom-three records in the NBA this season as they hope to land one of the top picks in the upcoming draft. And while we can enjoy watching the players build chemistry on the hardwood amid all the losing, past disastrous years have helped the team make quick turnarounds.

3. 1986-1987 (28-54)

The famous figures Alvin Robertson, Walter Berry, and Artis Gilmore led this aging Spurs roster to the third-worst records in franchise history. Despite ending the season in fourth-to-last place in the league standings, San Antonio lucked into landing the first overall pick in the 1987 Draft, eventually choosing David Robinson. The Admiral would help bring two titles to the 2-1-0 and become one of the greatest superstars to wear Silver and Black.

2. 1988-1989 (21-61)

Two years after suffering what was, at the time, their worst season ever, things would get even uglier for the Spurs. With Robinson still serving in the Navy, San Antonio would only muster 21 wins and finish in 28th place in the NBA standings. This heinous season would parlay into the third pick of the 1989 Draft, where the front office would select Sean Elliott. Though he never developed into a franchise player, the Spurs would hang his jersey in the rafters for establishing a winning culture and contributions to their first championship team.

1. 1996-1997 (20-62)

Last but not least, the Spurs’ worst season of all time would be the first domino to fall as they assembled a multi-decade dynasty. After finishing the year with one of the three worst records in the league, San Antonio would again secure the first overall pick, this time making the no-brainer choice of selecting Tim Duncan. The Big Fundamental ultimately became the best player in franchise history, leading a team with no trophies to five championship rings during his 19-year career with the good guys. He also cemented a legacy of basketball excellence in Alamo City, one that fans hope to see again sometime soon.

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