I started writing this article on March 3rd when the Spurs were coming off back-to-back wins against the Jazz and the Pacers. Some fans started freaking out about San Antonio ruining its chances in the lottery. Well, well, well… how the turntables. The Spurs have now lost two in a row against none other than their tanking rival, the Houston Rockets.
To the subset of fans who have reacted poorly to the short-lived winning streak against Utah and Indiana, winning games every once in a while is crucial for the confidence of the young guys on a rebuilding team. And losing too many consecutive games could have meant climbing further up the list of longest losing streaks in league history, which is an accolade no one wants.
As far as how recent wins might affect the team’s lottery odds, Air Alamo site expert Noah Magaro-George wrote a great primer on the best and worst-case scenarios. I highly recommend reading that, but here’s a quick synopsis: the Spurs are all but locked into top-four odds. Was that not the goal heading into the season?
It’s a funny experience comparing the vibes coming off a two-game win streak versus coming off back-to-back losses to Houston. It’s also an excellent way to remind people on both sides of the tanking argument not to take things too seriously with 17 games left. There is—and has been—one clear goal in mind this season. First, to let the young talent on the team get as much run as possible (which has led to massive growth out of all three rookies), and second, to give the Spurs the best chance possible at landing the French phenom.
With all of that out of the way, let’s mock! I headed over to Tankathon, took a deep breath, simulated the lottery one time, and… the Spurs are picking third. Not the most ideal of results, but not the end of the world either. Had they landed at one or two, my prologue would’ve gone out the window because if San Antonio is drafting there, there's no doubt that everyone involved would be happy.
As for San Antonio’s other picks, they own the Hornets’ lottery-protected first, the Pacers’ top-55 protected second, and the Raptors’ unprotected second. Those first two picks won't convey this season. And as things stand today, Toronto would be the last team outside the play-in, leaving the Spurs with the 44th pick. With that in mind, let's look at the prospects that might land in the 2-1-0.