Why the Spurs trading the 8th pick in the draft was the best scenario

Despite not being a popular decision, the San Antonio Spurs made the right choice by not keeping Rob Dillingham on draft night.
2024 NBA Draft - Round One
2024 NBA Draft - Round One / Sarah Stier/GettyImages

It's difficult to understand the Spurs’ decision to let Rob Dillingham go with the eighth pick of the draft, especially considering he is a young player with a lot of potential. It would have made sense to pair him with Victor Wembanyama, and many people were hoping to see him join the Silver and Black. Dillingham seemed like the perfect fit for the team's rebuilding process, especially after the arrival of Chris Paul, who could have supported his development, as he will surely do with many other players.

However, it's important to note that Popovich and the San Antonio franchise are not just focused on the present moment. Their goals extend beyond short-term success. Anticipating that Wembanyama will greatly improve in the upcoming years, the Spurs are proactively securing promising draft picks for the next 7 years. They may also be considering that if the team's development progresses as planned, their own draft picks could be lower down in the selection order.

Naturally, this decision caused frustration among the fans for two main reasons. Firstly, a highly anticipated prospect who was expected to be a pivotal part of the team's growth was passed over. Secondly, it heightened concerns that if the team doesn't start achieving positive results soon, a talent like Wembanyama may seek to join a team that regularly competes for titles.

The organization's mindset is not headed in that direction. Popovich and the front office have shown that they are content with the current group of young players, who are expected to receive more playing time. They will look to improve the roster through various means to compete effectively.

Additionally, they have secured another team’s first-round pick in each draft until 2031 (except for 2029)—years in which they could potentially have a couple of players on super-max contracts. Continuously adding talented prospects will help keep the team competitive for an extended period and will assure Wemby of the organization's long-term vision.

It's possible that Ron Dillingham could have made significant contributions to the team. However, when considering the franchise's long-term goals and their desire to leverage a once-in-a-lifetime superstar, it's understandable that they are planning beyond immediate fan satisfaction and results. They aim to build a new dynasty by seeking out new talent year after year, akin to holding multiple "lottery tickets" to uncover promising prospects.