Spurs still reaping massive rewards from the Kawhi Leonard trade

The latest draft lottery gave the San Antonio Spurs more picks that are a direct result of the Kawhi Leonard trade.
Los Angeles Clippers v Charlotte Hornets
Los Angeles Clippers v Charlotte Hornets / Jacob Kupferman/GettyImages

You wouldn't think the Kawhi Leonard trade from the summer of 2018 would still affect the San Antonio Spurs today. But it is, and by landing the 8th overall pick in the upcoming draft, it continues to add to the long list of pieces the Spurs have been able to land by sending Kawhi off to the Toronto Raptors.

In the original transaction, the Spurs sent the Raptors Kawhi and sharpshooter Danny Green for all-star guard DeMar DeRozan, former ninth-overall pick Jakob Poeltl and a 2019 first-round pick that ended up being Keldon Johnson.

San Antonio tried to remain competitive with DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge at the ship's helm. However, they made one postseason appearance, falling in seven games to the up-and-coming Denver Nuggets. After coming up short the next two seasons, the rebuild began by sending DeRozan to the Chicago Bulls.

DeMar was dealt for Thaddeus Young, Al-Farouq Aminu, second-round picks in 2022 and 2025, and a top-ten protected first-round pick in 2025.

Thaddeus Young was later traded to the Raptors. San Antonio acquired a 2022 first-round pick in this trade, protected 1-14. The pick ended up being the 20th overall pick in that draft, which was used to select former Ohio State Buckeye guard Malaki Branham.

While the Spurs have the chance to land another lottery pick in the 2025 draft, it wasn't the DeRozan trade that resulted in a new acquisition for San Antonio.

The Jakob Poeltl trade was legal robbery

After trading Dejounte Murray to Atlanta for three first-round picks, the delayed rebuild was finally embraced with open arms, but Murray wasn't the only notable Spurs player who was sent off for valuable draft capital.

In the 2023 trade deadline, the Spurs sent former Raptor Jakob Poeltl back to his old squad in a transaction where Toronto gave San Antonio the rights to their 2024 first-round pick, which is protected within the top six. As long as the Raptors pick landed in seven or below, the Spurs would go into the draft with two lottery picks.

The odds were forever in San Antonio's favor this past weekend. As the pick fell to the eighth spot, conveying for the Spurs.

Now, the Spurs are going into the draft with two top-eight picks and the perfect opportunity to draft or trade for players to form a competitive roster around Victor Wembanyama.

It's wild to watch how this trade still gives the Spurs assets to this day but what's crazier is it's still not over. As mentioned, San Antonio could land another first-rounder next season if Chicago's pick is outside the top ten. It's fascinating to see how much history there is between the Spurs and Raptors regarding transactions, as the teams have completed three deals since 2018.

Regardless of whether Chicago's pick lands outside the top ten, San Antonio made the best out of a terrible situation and continues to use the pieces from that deal to build the roster of the future.