Spurs’ Top 5 Draft day steals

The San Antonio Spurs is one of the most successful franchise in NBA history. They’ve won four NBA titles, including three in the last nine years which is a remarkable feat, considering San Antonio is a small market team.

For over a decade, the Spurs have stayed competitive and are considered legitimate title contenders since Tim Duncan’s arrival.

Today, Spurs World looks back at some of San Antonio’s best draft day moves since 1997.

5. Gary Neal – Undrafted rookie (signed in 2010)

Neal turned heads with his shooting prowess in last year’s Las Vegas Summer League. The Spurs took notice and signed the undrafted rookie and didn’t regret it.

In his rookie season, Neal averaged 9.8 points and 2.5 rebounds while shooting 45.1 percent from the field, including 41.9 percent from beyond the arc in 80 regular season games.

He was also a part of the Spurs’ playoff rotation last year and showed that he is willing to take and make big shots. In Game 5 against the Memphis Grizzlies, he made a 3-pointer at buzzer that sent the game into overtime which the Spurs eventually won to force a Game 6.

To top it all, Neal became just the second undrafted rookie to make the NBA’s All-Rookie First Team in league history.

4. George Hill – 26th overall pick in 2008

In just three seasons with the Spurs, Hill became one of San Antonio’s fan favorite because of his toughness on  both ends of the floor and it’s not a stretch to say that he was the Spurs’ best perimeter defender in the past two years.

Hill is  averaging 9.9 points, 2.4 rebounds and 2.4 assists in his NBA career.

However, with the Spurs opting to go on a different direction, they traded Hill for Kawhi Leonard, the 42nd overall pick and the draft rights to Erazem Lorbek on the 2011 draft night.

Needless to say, his stock skyrocketed in just three years with the Spurs. He was swapped for three players that can potentially be good NBA players while being on the last year of his contract.

3. Tony Parker – 28th overall pick in 2001

Parker might not be the best point guard in the league, but his style of play fits the Spurs and has helped San Antonio win three titles.

In his 10 year NBA career, Parker has averaged 16.7 points, 5.7 assists and 3.1 rebounds per game.

He was named to the All-Rookie first team in 2002, won the Finals MVP award in 2007 when the Spurs won their fourth title, and was named to the All-NBA third team in 2009.

2. Manu Ginobili – 57th overall pick in 1999

Picked by the Spurs in 1999,  Ginobili didn’t join the Spurs until the 2002-03 season as he chose to play over in Italy before going to the NBA. It apparently paid-off as the San Antonio won their second title during Ginobili’s first season in silver and black.

He is one of the fiercest competitor in the NBA today and could be the most important Spurs player right now. His reckless style of play makes him hard to predict and is well-loved by Spurs fans.

In his nine years in San Antonio, Ginobili has averaged 15.3 points, 3.9 assists and 4.0 rebounds per ball game.

He was named to the All-Rookie second team in 2003, won the Sixth Man of the Year award in 2008, and was named to the All-NBA third team in 2008 and 2011.

1. Tim Duncan – 1st overall pick in 1997

The fact that Duncan was the unanimous choice for the first overall pick in 1997 makes him a controversial choice on this list.

But back in ’97 luck came into play, the Boston Celtics had the best odds for the overall pick (36 percent) as well as the league’s second-worst record ended up with the third and sixth picks that paved the way for the Spurs who had a 21.4 percent chance at the top pick to snatch Duncan.

What makes him one of the biggest draft day steals?  If the Spurs were picking third, they would have had their choice of Chauncey Billups, Tony Battie, Antonio Daniels and Ron Mercer. Not a bad company, but none of those players came close to what Duncan has accomplished for his team and as a player.

Awards received:

Season MVP – 2003, 2002

Rookie of the Year – 1998

Finals MVP – 2005, 2003, 1999

All-NBA 1st Team – 2007, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999, 1998

All-NBA 2nd Team – 2009, 2008, 2006

All-NBA 3rd Team – 2010

All-Rookie 1st Team – 1998

All-Defensive 1st Team- 2008, 2007, 2005, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999

All-Defensive 2nd Team – 2010, 2009, 2006, 2004, 1998

All-Star MVP – 2000

Need I say more?

Honorable Mentions:

Luis Scola – 55th overall pick in 2002

Picked by the Spurs in 2002, Scola didn’t play in the NBA until the 2007-08 season because of buyout issues with his former team. In his four year NBA career, he is averaging 18.3 points and 8.2 rebounds.

Scola could have made the Top 5 list easily. However, he never played for San Antonio because his draft rights was traded to the Houston Rockets.

DeJuan Blair – 37th overall pick in 2009

Projected as a lottery pick in 2009, Blair’s stock plummeted because of concerns regarding his knees. As a result, he fell into the laps of the Spurs at number 37.

Blair tuned out to be a solid contributor off the Spurs bench and has averaged 8.0 points and 6.7 rebounds in just 19.8 minutes per game, in two seasons with San Antonio.

Agree or disagree with this list? Share us your thoughts.


7 thoughts on “Spurs’ Top 5 Draft day steals

  1. Pingback: Spurs' Top 5 Draft day steals « Spurs World | | The Spurs StoreThe Spurs Store

  2. Robbin, Strongly Agree, and WOW how only 2 of them did not played overseas, which I consider more of a steal or LUCK of the draw, the rest were just stach players. Remember, you might just want to include David Robinson in there. The odds are hardly fair at winning a Lotto, heck if I knew there was a great chance of me winning the Lotto today, I would go play it now. Then again the Dem would just want to tax the heck out my winnings. Suggestion, maybe, later on Rob can you do a write-up on the Lotto System and how it’s not an equal system. 90% of the teams are beening punished for winning. Maybe, in the CBA talks should consider revisting this idea and making some changes, afterall this is a large percentage of why the other 10% of team have financial and CAP problems that contribute to creating Lockouts.

    • Joe, we can always make an argument for David Robinson, but the list I made is limited from 1997 onwards, which means D-Rob is included, I’ll think about the article idea you suggested and thanks for the regular reads and comments.

      I truly appreciate it!

  3. Pretty good list Robby, but I thought, Ginobili and Duncan should switch places. I mean 57th pick and now an All Star? How great was that!

  4. I’m not quite sure if Hill should be on this list but if Leonard and Bertans turns out to be good NBA players then drafting Hill and then later trading him will be one of the Spurs best draft day moves! Go Spurs Go!

  5. Do you have a Facebook page or Twitter? Would love to follow you there, I’m on my iPhone and love reading your stuff!

  6. Pingback: Spurs Nation » Takes from my blog brothers: How Dell Demps first met Pop

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