San Antonio Spurs rookie Josh Primo had himself an impressive couple of summer league games in Las Vegas over the past couple of weeks. At only 18 years old, he played comparably well to some of the draft's top selections and began to show fans why the Spurs took a chance on him late in the lottery.
With that in mind, though, the fact of the matter is that he was far from being on most Spurs fans' radars coming into draft night and he was not the selection that many wanted. Selecting Primo 12th overall with players like Kai Jones, Alperen Sengun, and even Usman Garuba all still on the board was a move that created a bit of a frenzy on social media.
Since then, while many fans have calmed down and are coming around on the decision, some of us still feel that Primo is worthy of garnering some more respect and that Spurs fans will be very pleased with the pick once his development is all said and done.
The San Antonio Spurs were not the only lottery team interested in Primo
While many fans didn't necessarily dislike the pick itself, many felt that a lottery pick was too high for Primo and that at best he should have been a mid to late first-round selection. That said, though, since draft night, more details have been released that suggest that mock drafts may have been wildly inaccurate about Primo.
While rumors in the days after draft night suggested that Primo may have been targeted by several teams in the middle of the first round, with a particular emphasis on the Oklahoma City Thunder, some more shocking news was shared by Primo's agent, Todd Ramasar, on San Antonio Sports Star's "The Blitz."
According to Ramasar, there was another team higher in the lottery than the Spurs that was seriously interested in Primo, but that because "a certain player fell to that team," this allowed for the Spurs to take him 12th overall. Being that the top five players that were selected in the draft were more or less locked to go in those spots, leaving me only really suspecting one team in the top 11: the Charlotte Hornets.
With their 11th overall pick, they selected UConn shooting guard James Bouknight. Other than perhaps Ziaire Williams (who the Memphis Grizzlies moved up to get), Bouknight was the only other true shooting guard selected in the 6th-11th pick range and could have gone as high as sixth to the Oklahoma City Thunder. Given the similarities between the two players (other than age), this is my best guess as to who else may have taken Primo in the lottery.
Even then though, something felt missing. While the Spurs drafting Primo based on his age and long-term upside made sense, it still felt like a bit of a reach unless the team was really, really high on him. In looking for extra clues as to why the Spurs were so optimistic about him, I stumbled on something potentially very significant that seems to be getting overlooked.
In a San Antonio Sports Star interview with Alabama head coach Nate Oats, Oats shared a potentially game-changing bit about Primo. According to him, Primo underwent "x-rays and MRIs" while at Alabama and they found that his growth plates were still open at that time. In other words, even though he already stands at 6'6", Primo may not be done growing.
This is something that could take a young, athletic guard with good size being considered in the mid-first-round, like Primo, and catapult him into the lottery. Even if he were to grow only two inches more, having a two-way, 6'8" shooting wing with guard skills is invaluable in the modern NBA.
Considering all of these relatively newly-discovered factors, it's very possible that Primo was well worth a lottery pick that could have had the potential to go even higher in next year's draft. While the selection will almost certainly require some time and patience before it begins to pay off, Spurs fans could ultimately find themselves looking back on Primo as a player in the 2021 NBA Draft that very nearly slipped through the cracks.