For longtime followers of the San Antonio Spurs, this recent trend of getting high draft picks has been a bit weird. Given how young most of these players are, it’s not that easy to say whether or not the Spurs have made the right picks, although the clock is ticking and it will soon be easier to make the call.
Over the last three drafts, the Spurs have picked up Luka Samanic, Keldon Johnson, Devin Vassell, Tre Jones, Joshua Primo, and Joe Wieskamp. Only Samanic is no longer playing for the San Antonio organization, although he has been lighting it up for the Knicks G League affiliate. I wish him luck, just not in the Lone Star State.
Ranking rookies is hard, especially when you consider that different players play different positions and are expected to excel at different things. Generalizing is usually not a good thing to do (which is in itself a generalization), but I figure doing it this one time can’t hurt, right?
I had the Air Alamo staff assign rankings of importance to 16 statistical categories: field goals made, field goal percentage, free throws made, free throw percentage, three-pointer made, three-point percentage, points, assist/turnover ratio, defensive rebounds, offensive rebounds, rebounds, assists, steals, blocks, turnovers, and double-doubles.
I did not fully explain to them why I needed their input, so there is not as much bias as one might think. I then took all of the categories and weighted them by taking the average of each individual writer’s order of importance, assigning points to each category.
I then used the weighted categories to rank every single rookie with the other players selected in their draft class. In very simple terms, each player is ranked by their performance in accordance with the importance of certain areas of the game of basketball. Numbers are pulled from rookie seasons only on a per-game average, so for players who have been in the league for more than one season, only their rookie stats were used.
Luka Samanic: 19th Pick, 2019 - Ranked 23rd in Draft Class
After being picked 19th, Luka Samanic struggled and played slightly below his worth. His offense floundered, partly due to lack of minutes and partly due to being easily frustrated. Either way, his interior defense and good ball-handling kept him out of the cellar because his offense was not helping him out.
Since his rookie season, Luka only got worse. The power forward is no longer on an NBA team and is making a name for himself in the G League, but players who were ranked below him include Thalen Horton-Tucker, Lu Dort, and Jordan Poole, to name a few. All of those guys are still getting NBA minutes, so it’s a shame the Spurs went with Luka instead of some better players.