Dec 18, 2016; San Antonio, TX, USA; Former San Antonio Spurs power forward Tim Duncan’s jersey is unveiled during a ceremony to retire his No. 21jersey after an NBA basketball game between the Spurs and the New Orleans Pelicans at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
With some of the best players in league history, tremendous scouting and bold decision-making, the San Antonio Spurs have one of the best draft records in the league. But who are their top 10 draft picks in franchise history?
The San Antonio Spurs are one of the most successful franchises in NBA history, which makes their draft success all the more impressive. For a team to constantly be in the playoffs and near the top of the league, yet find franchise players and tremendous role players seemingly every year is extraordinary.
Not to say the Spurs haven’t had good opportunities with high picks. Over half of the players on this list were top-10 selections in their respective drafts. But we’ve seen high picks not work out in the league before, and for San Antonio to hit the mark on so many occasions is impressive.
Perhaps the most remarkable part of their success is their ability to take advantage of their higher picks in team history. Since joining the NBA in 1976-77, the San Antonio Spurs have missed the playoffs just four times. The four first round draft picks from the subsequent summers are all on this list, and each of those players was key in helping the team never miss the playoffs in consecutive years.
San Antonio’s championship teams have been built from draft picks. From David Robinson to Tim Duncan and now Kawhi Leonard, the team has relied on its draftees to develop into championship players. So which players will join them as the draft day selections that have made the San Antonio Spurs who they are today? Who are the top draft picks in franchise history?
10. Johnny Dawkins (PG) — No. 10 pick in 1986 NBA Draft
Career stats (with the Spurs): 178 GP, 13.0 PPG, 5.6 APG, 2.7 RPG, 1.2 SPG, 45.8 FG%, 86.1 FT%
The San Antonio Spurs were an average team when Johnny Dawkins was selected 10th overall in 1986. Having just finished their second losing season in the last three years, they were looking toward the future of their franchise.
With their starting point guard Johnny Moore suffering from a rare illness during the 1985-86 campaign and never fully getting back to form, the Spurs selected Dawkins to be their next point guard. Dawkins had averaged 19.2 points and 4.2 assists per game in his time at Duke, including a trip to the national championship game his senior year. The lefty seemed like a perfect fit to come in and help the team get back to its glory days — and then some.
Dawkins spent his rookie year as a backup playing 20.8 minutes a game, but appeared in 81 contests and averaged 10.3 points and 3.6 assists per game. In his second year he broke out to the tune of 15.8 points and 7.4 assists as the starter in 61 of the 65 games he appeared in.
Unfortunately, Dawkins’ departure came as swiftly as his arrival. After an injury-plagued third season, the former Blue Devil was traded for veteran point guard Maurice Cheeks from the Philadelphia 76ers in the summer before the 1989 season. With David Robinson’s impending rookie season, Spurs brass decided to make a few win-now moves, and moving on from Johnny Dawkins was included.
But no matter how short-lived his tenure, Dawkins proved to be one of the brightest and more talented players the Spurs had ever drafted. And since his selection led to the eventual acquiring of Rod Strickland (Cheeks was traded for Strickland just sixth months after his arrival), who had a good run with the Spurs, Dawkins continued to give even beyond his departure from the team.
Apr 30, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Clippers guard Raymond Felton (2) defends Utah Jazz guard George Hill (3) as he drives to the basket in the second period of game seven of the first round of the 2017 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
9. George Hill (PG) — No. 26 pick in 2008 NBA Draft
Career stats (with the Spurs): 231 GP, 9.9 PPG, 2.4 APG, 2.4 RPG, 45.3 FG%, 37.8 3P%, 81.2 FT%
George Hill is one of the classic “diamond in the rough” draft selections the Spurs are famous for. Coming from a small school in Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) and in a relatively deep draft class, Hill was fairly unknown, but made an immediate impact for the team.
In his rookie year, Hill played in 77 regular season games and four out of the team’s five postseason games. His playing time actually increased from 16.5 minutes per game to 19.0 from regular season to playoffs thanks in most part to his defense.
After year one, Hill was officially a key member of the team, playing nearly 29 minutes a night in his other two years with the Spurs, including 33.3 minutes a game over two more playoff runs. His numbers increased with his minutes, going from 5.7 points per game his rookie year (5.8 in playoffs) to 12.0 points per game in years two and three (12.8 in playoffs).
Hill was always a key defensive player, often guarding the opposing team’s bigger wings as San Antonio’s third guard thanks to his length and defensive skills. Offensively, he came alive in years two and three as a three-point marksman from the corner. Nearly 70 percent of his three-point attempts came from the corner, and he was making them at a 43 percent rate (up four points from his total three-point percentage).
This new role came in Bruce Bowen‘s first season off the team. Hill was a rookie during Bowen’s final year in the league, and took over his corner assassin/pesky defender role following his retirement.
The San Antonio Spurs never made it out of the second round while Hill was on the team. But like Dawkins, the short-lived success during his time in San Antonio provided some good moments for this selection. But perhaps the most important part of Hill’s time with the club came at his departure, when he was traded in 2011 for another great Spurs draftee.
8. Willie Anderson (SF) — No. 10 pick in 1988 NBA Draft
Career stats (with the Spurs): 451 GP, 13.2 PPG, 4.2 APG, 4.0 RPG, 1.1 SPG 47.6 FG%, 78.2 FT%
Despite their recent string of top picks, the San Antonio Spurs suffered their fifth consecutive season of .500 or below in the 1987-88 season. And with long-time stud Mike Mitchell retiring in the summer of 1988, the Spurs knew they needed a go-to scoring forward to play with their young guards.
Enter Willie Anderson. The 6’7″ scoring wing just came off a season averaging 16.7 points, 5.1 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game at Georgia. He would be the last Spurs rookie to suffer a losing campaign for a while.
From day one, Anderson was one of the best players on the roster. In his rookie year he led the team in scoring (18.6 points per game) and win shares (4.9). Those numbers — plus his 5.1 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 1.9 steals per game — earned him All-Rookie First Team honors.
While the team missed the playoffs his rookie year, they made it to six consecutive postseasons in the rest of his time in San Antonio, including the conference finals in his last season with the team in 1994-95. His best playoff appearance came in his second year (the team’s first year of the run) when he averaged 20.5 points, 5.4 rebounds and 5.2 assists per game.
Anderson remained productive through his first four years with the Spurs, but only played close to a full season in one of his final three. Despite the continued regular season success, the Spurs teams featuring Anderson only made it to the one conference finals, losing in six games to the eventual champion Houston Rockets.
He was a large part of the culture change in San Antonio though, finishing as a top-five scorer for the team in his four full seasons while it was winning. Much of the Spurs’ early success in their dynastic run can in some ways be attributed to Willie Anderson.
7. Alvin Robertson (SG) — No. 7 pick in 1984 NBA Draft
Career stats (with the Spurs): 389 GP, 16.2 PPG, 5.4 APG, 5.4 RPG, 2.9 SPG, 48.2 FG%, 75.4 FT%
Alvin Robertson was the first step toward the future for the San Antonio Spurs. He was their first top-10 pick since joining the league from the ABA in 1976. The team made it to the postseason in each of its first seven years in the NBA, until the 1983-84 season. That year, San Antonio finished with its first losing record, and wound up with the seventh pick in the 1984 NBA Draft.
Robertson had just come off a season averaging 15.5 points, 6.0 assists and 5.5 rebounds per game at Arkansas and had the makings of an elite defender, averaging nearly three steals a night. He came to a veteran team after just three years of college and made an impact right away, averaging 9.2 points, 3.5 assists, 3.4 rebounds and 1.6 steals in 21.3 minutes per contest.
After coming off the bench as a rookie, Robertson became a full-time starter in year two. His numbers reflected the increase in minutes, jumping to 17.0 points, 6.3 rebounds, 5.5 assists and a whopping 3.7 steals per game. Those numbers earned him an All-Star bid, All-NBA and All-Defensive Second team honors, the Most Improved Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year awards. For his career Robertson made it to three more All-Star games and was named to five more All-Defensive teams (including two First Teams).
Unfortunately for Robertson, his prime was spent in the growing pain years for the Spurs. From his rookie year in 1984-85 through his final year with the team in 1988-89, the team went to three out of five possible postseasons and never made it out of the first round. He did not play in his team’s first postseason as a rookie, and under-performed in his breakout 1985-86 regular season. He did, however, show out in the playoffs two years later in 1987-88 with 23.3 points, 9.3 assists, 4.7 rebounds and 4.0 steals in three games.
Even more unfortunate for Robertson, the team started finding consistent success after he was traded in the summer of 1989. Like Dawkins, Robertson was traded for a veteran the team brought on to play with incoming rookie David Robinson. That veteran was Terry Cummings from the Milwaukee Bucks, who ended up averaging 19.3 points and 8.4 rebounds per game in his first three years with the Spurs before turning the corner at age 30.
Robertson was a leader and top player for the young Spurs in the mid-80s. His play at both ends gave a model of consistency for a young and struggling squad. He went on to have a solid career, but started to hit his decline after leaving San Antonio.
6. Sean Elliott (SF) — No. 3 pick in 1989 NBA Draft
Career stats (with the Spurs): 669 GP, 14.4 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 2.5 APG, 46.6 FG%, 37.9 3P%, 79.9 FT%
If Alvin Robertson was the first draft pick to build toward the future of the San Antonio Spurs, Sean Elliott was the first pick of that future’s present. The summer of 1989 was one of change for the Spurs, and that change was a good one.
That summer, they traded two young players (Robertson and Dawkins) for quality starters (Cummings and Cheeks). David Robinson, the first overall pick in 1987, was joining the team after spending two years with the Navy. With the third overall pick in the 1989 NBA Draft, the San Antonio Spurs selected Sean Elliott.
Elliott was a two time All-American at the University of Arizona. In his four years as a Wildcat, he averaged 19.2 points and 6.1 rebounds per game. His senior year he averaged 22.3 points and 7.2 rebounds per game and was the AP Player of the Year. His balanced scoring on the wing would prove imperative to a team that was about to trade one of its best players on the perimeter.
For his rookie year, Elliott averaged 10.0 points and 3.7 rebounds a game and earned All-Rookie Second Team honors. He started in 69 games and helped the Spurs get past the first round of the playoffs, which they hadn’t done since 1983. In the postseason, he started in all 10 games the team played and bumped his scoring numbers up to 12.7 points a night.
Over the next three years, Elliott was a critical piece for a regular playoff team. He averaged 16.4 points and 5.2 rebounds per game from 1990-93. Despite his success, the team never made it past the second round, and in the summer of 1993, Elliott was traded to the Detroit Pistons for Dennis Rodman.
After a down year in Detroit, Elliott was actually traded back to the Spurs. He had his best years statistically in each of the next two seasons, going for 18.1 points per game in 1994-95, and a career-high 20.0 points a game in 1995-96. Along with those 20 points, Elliott averaged 5.1 rebounds and a career=best 2.1-of-5.1 threes per game (41.1 percent on the year), earning him the second All-Star bid of his career.
After his career 1995-96 campaign, Elliott started to decline. In his final five years he averaged 10.2 points and 3.8 rebounds per game, bringing his career averages to a solid 14.2 points and 4.3 rebounds. Despite his age, Elliott was still a key contributor in his lone title run in 1999, averaging 11.9 points per game and hitting 40 percent of his threes in the 17 postseason games on the way to a championship.
Elliott retired from the league after the 2000-01 season. He is still fifth on the Spurs’ all-time franchise leader board in three-pointers made, and was a key member of all their success throughout the ’90s. He may not have the same personal accolades as Robertson, but his contributions to winning and longevity cement his place among the Spurs’ greats.
May 9, 2017; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs shooting guard Manu Ginobili (20) reacts after a shot against the Houston Rockets during the second half in game five of the second round of the 2017 NBA Playoffs at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
5. Manu Ginobili (SG) — No. 57 pick in 1999 NBA Draft
Manu Ginobili might be “just” the fifth best draft selection in San Antonio Spurs history, but he’s definitely the best steal on their draft record. To not only draft a rotation player, or a 15-year veteran, or even an All-Star with the 57th pick, but a future Hall-of-Famer?
There have really only been two other 57th overall picks to have productive NBA careers: current Washington Wizards center Marcin Gortat, and former New York Knicks pick Frank Brickowski, and neither ever made an All-Star team.
When the Spurs selected Ginobili in 1999, they had just won their first NBA championship and probably never thought this 21-year-old would help them win four more. It was not until he was a two-time Italian league MVP that he signed with the Spurs and started playing in the NBA in 2002.
In his first NBA season in 2002-03, the Spurs won their second NBA championship. During the regular season he came off the bench for 20.7 minutes a night, but was a factor in the playoffs, playing 27.5 minutes per game. He averaged 9.4 points and 1.7 steals to help propel the team to the title, and he never looked back from there.
Ginobili followed up his All-Rookie Second Team campaign with alternating super sixth man and All-Star starter years. In two of his three years as a full-time starter, he was named to the All-Star team (2005 and 2011), and was the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year in 2007 and 2008. He was also named to the All-NBA Third Team in for the 2007-08 and 2010-11 seasons.
In the postseason it’s been no different. Whether he starts or comes off the bench, Ginobili’s production has been unquestionable. From his second year with the team through their last title run in 2013-14, Manu averaged 16.4 points, 4.3 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 1.4 steals per game.
But it isn’t always about stats when it comes to Ginobili. In fact, it’s more often about the way he plays and the types of plays he creates, more than the numbers he puts up. Ginobili’s fearless attitude combined with his skill and basketball intelligence have allowed him to come through in the clutch for the Spurs.
Whether it’s a big shot, assist or defensive play, the Argentine always comes through. Even in his last three playoffs, where on average he’s scored less than seven points a night, time and time again Ginobili is making a difference…
Manu Ginobili will go down as one of the all-time greats in San Antonio Spurs history. He is a four-time champion and perhaps one of the greatest international players and sixth men our league has ever seen. Not bad for the 57th pick in the draft.
Feb 24, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; San Antonio Spurs guard Tony Parker (9) reacts against the Los Angeles Clippers during the first quarter at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports
4. Tony Parker (PG) — No. 28 pick in 2001 NBA Draft
Career stats (with the Spurs): 1,143 GP, 16.2 PPG, 5.8 APG, 2.8 RPG, 49.3 FG%, 75.3 FT%
Tony Parker joined the San Antonio Spurs at the age of 19 but was immediately given the keys to the car. He started at point guard in 72 games as a rookie, helping the team get to a 58-24 record and into the second round of the postseason. His 9.2 points and 4.3 assists a night earned him All-Rookie First team honors and he continued to shine in the playoffs with 15.5 points and 4.0 assists per game.
What might have been even more impressive was his ability to take care of the ball. Only two other rookies in NBA history have started 70+ games and averaged four or more assists with two or less turnovers: Nick Van Exel and Chris Duhon.
Gregg Popovich was willing to give the young rookie the reins after the Spurs had a point guard by committee the season before. Terry Porter, Avery Johnson and Antonio Daniels all played at least 21 minutes a game, and each started at least a quarter of the season. In Parker’s rookie year, Johnson was no longer with the team and Porter started playing less than 20 minutes a night.
For as good as Tim Duncan was in all his years with the Spurs, Parker was often the head of the snake. His quickness, agility and ability to get to the rim at will was what got San Antonio’s offense going night in and night out.
Over the next seven years (2002-09) he averaged 17.8 points and 5.8 assists a night and shot 50 percent from the field, with his best year coming in 2008-09 when he averaged 22.0 points and 6.9 assists per game. In this time he went to three All-Star games, had one All-NBA Third Team selection and three championships.
His production continued in the postseason, but no year was more important than in 2006-07 when the Spurs won their fourth championship and Parker was named Finals MVP. That year he averaged 20.8 points and 5.8 assists per game, and in the Finals posted a team-high 24.5 points per game.
Over the next six years it was more of the same for Parker, averaging 17.2 points and 6.0 assists from 2009-15. In that time he made it to three more All-Star games and was named to three All-NBA Second Teams. His production in the playoffs never wavered either, averaging 18.3 points and 5.7 assists per game on the way to another NBA championship.
Entering the 2015-16 season, Parker was going into his 15th year in the league at age 33. With “The Big Three” era reaching its twilight and Kawhi Leonard becoming the team’s best player, Parker started his “decline.”
In these last two years he’s averaged 11.1 points and 4.9 assists per game, still running the team’s offense but letting others carry more of the load. Although until his injury knocked him out of the postseason this year, he proved he still has plenty left in the tank, averaging 15.9 points per game as the team’s No. 2 to Leonard.
Tony Parker has stated his career is not over yet. After undergoing successful surgery this summer, the point guard plans on going for 20 years with the Spurs. Whether he makes it there or not, Parker will remain a top-five player in franchise history…but maybe another ring and brilliant playoff performance can bump him up the list a little.
David Robinson was the turning point for the San Antonio Spurs franchise. Before the 1987 NBA Draft, they had posted four straight seasons of .500 or below, with a low point in the 1986-87 season going 28-54. This summer, the team ended up with the first overall pick for the first time in franchise history, and they would never look back.
Robinson was one of those franchise-changing players from the get-go. His senior year he averaged 28.2 points, 11.8 rebounds and 4.5 blocks per game, and won the Naismith and Wooden awards. With a two-year obligation to serve active duty in the Navy, San Antonio would have to wait a couple more years to bring the All-American to the squad. It was a move that proved worth the wait.
Things continued to trend downward until his arrival though. San Antonio went through two more losing seasons in 1987-88 and 1988-89, including a franchise-worst 21-61. But Robinson’s arrival yielded an even better turnaround than expected, with the team going 56-26 in his rookie year, which was a NBA record for a turnaround by a team at the time.
In his Rookie of the Year season, Robinson averaged 24.3 points, 12.0 rebounds and 3.9 blocks per game. He was also named to the All-NBA Third Team, All-Defensive Second Team, and the All-Star Game for his efforts.
Robinson’s dominance continued over his first seven years in the league, averaging 25.6 points, 11.8 rebounds and 3.6 blocks per game. During this span he was named Defensive Player of the Year in 1991-92 (averaging 12.2 rebounds and a league high 4.5 blocks per game), and the 1994-95 MVP (averaging 27.6 points and 10.8 rebounds per game). Robinson also won the scoring title in 1993-94 at 29.8 points per game, including a 71-point outing against the Los Angeles Clippers to seal it.
While Robinson’s numbers carried over into the postseason (24.0 points, 11.8 rebounds and 3.1 blocks per game from 1990-96) the Spurs never made it to the NBA Finals. It was actually the lowest point in Robinson’s career that led to the franchise making it over that hump. The Admiral spent all but six games on the sidelines for the 1996-97 season and the team went 20-62. With the third-highest odds they wound up winning the draft lottery and selecting Tim Duncan first overall. The rest is history.
With Duncan in town, Robinson took a back seat offensively, but he remained effective across the board. Now at age 32, he was ready to take the young Duncan under his wing and help mold him into the player that would lead the team to a championship.
Over the next four years, Robinson averaged 17.5 points, 9.7 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game, made three All-Star teams, three All-NBA Teams, and one All-Defensive Team. It was also in this span that Robinson won his first NBA championship. In the Finals against the New York Knicks, Robinson averaged 16.6 points, 11.8 rebounds and 3.0 blocks in five games.
Robinson won another title with the Spurs his final year in 2002-03. He retired with 10 All-Star game appearances, 10 All-NBA teams, eight All-NBA Defensive teams, two championships and recognition as one of the 50 greatest players of all time. Robinson nearly single-handedly changed the direction of the franchise, and his effects on the team are still felt today.
San Antonio Spurs small forward Kawhi Leonard (2) warms up before the game against the Houston Rockets in game five of the second round of the 2017 NBA Playoffs at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
2. Kawhi Leonard (SF) — No. 15 pick in 2011 NBA Draft
Career stats (with the Spurs): 398 GP, 16.4 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 2.3 APG,1.8 SPG, 49.5 FG%, 38.8 3P%, 84.7 FT%
To some, it might be a bit of a shock to see Kawhi Leonard so high on this list. After all, he’s only been with the Spurs for six seasons, been to just two All-Star games and averaged over 20 points per game in a season twice. But in that same stretch, he has also been a two-time Defensive Player of the Year and a Finals MVP.
Before even looking at him on the court, part of why Leonard is so high is how he got here. Remember, this is a “top 10 draft picks” list, not “top 10 players list.” Slightly different.
Should Leonard continue on the track he is on, he has the potential to be a multi-time champion, scoring leader, MVP and Hall-of-Famer. Not only did the Spurs get him with the 15th pick in the draft, they traded George Hill to get him. No offense to Hill, as he made this list, but c’mon. George Hill.
Next, of course, is the almost tired conversation about how Leonard has improved so much every year. But we have to talk about it to look ahead to where he could end up. Leonard went from a non-shooter to 40 percent three-point guy who makes two per game. He went from not really being able to dribble to initiating the San Antonio Spurs’ offense. If his trajectory holds, there’s no reason Leonard can’t be a 25-point, eight-rebound, seven-assist, two-steals per game guy.
Hitting rewind and looking at Leonard’s rookie year, he averaged 7.9 points and 5.1 rebounds in 64 contests of the 66-game lockout season (39 starts) and made the All-Rookie First Team. In the playoffs, he started all 14 games and averaged 8.6 points and 5.9 rebounds per contest.
There was a slight uptick in his numbers in his second season (11.9 points, 6.0 rebounds), but it was his three-point shooting that showed the most improvement. In his rookie year he made 0.6 threes per game on 1.7 attempts for 37.6 percent, but by year two he was making 1.1 out of 3.0 attempts per game and keeping his average steady at 37.4 percent. Showing a willingness to take the shot, and hit them effectively, spelled trouble for the rest of the league.
Over the next two regular seasons, we continued to see an increase in numbers as he averaged 14.6 points and 6.7 rebounds per game. Defensively he was becoming a monster, averaging 2.3 steals per game in 2014-15 on his way to his first Defensive Player of the Year award. For all his regular season success, it was his postseason run in these two years that showcased his true star potential.
In 2013-14, his third playoff appearance, Kawhi played to his averages through the first three rounds. But in the Finals, he stuffed the stat sheet with 17.8 points, 6.4 rebounds, 1.6 steals and 1.2 blocks per game, making 11-of-19 threes across the five games on his way to Finals MVP honors. Leonard followed up this postseason performance by averaging 20.3 point per game the next year, establishing himself as the team’s go-to scorer.
The scoring trend has continued for Leonard in these last two seasons, averaging 23.4 points per game. In this time he’s gotten his first two All-Star nods, as well as All-NBA First Team selections and a second Defensive Player of the Year Award. This year he is a finalist for both the MVP and Defensive Player of the Year Awards. Winning those would make him just the third person to win both awards in one season, and just the second to win DPOY for three consecutive years.
In just his short time with the San Antonio Spurs, Kawhi Leonard has already racked up multiple individual awards and helped lead the team to a championship. Part of placing him No. 2 on this list comes from what he’s done and how he’s gotten here, but also based on what to expect from him in the future.
If Leonard walked away from the game today, he may not go above Robinson, Parker or Ginobili on this list, but he’d still be on it. However, if the 25-year-old can stick around for another 10 years or so, there’s no reason to believe he won’t add to his resume and validate this spot as one of the best Spurs in team history.
Dec 18, 2016; San Antonio, TX, USA; Former San Antonio Spurs power forward Tim Duncan smiles during a ceremony to retire his No. 21jersey after an NBA basketball game between the Spurs and the New Orleans Pelicans at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
1. Tim Duncan (PF/C) — No. 1 pick in 1997 NBA Draft
Career stats (with the Spurs): 1,392 GP,19.0 PPG, 10.8 RPG, 3.0 APG, 2.2 BPG, 50.6 FG%, 69.6 FT%
Alvin Robertson. David Robinson. Tim Duncan. These are the three draft picks that were made to change the course of the San Antonio Spurs franchise. Robertson tried to keep them above water, but ultimately was the leader of a young team. Robinson became a Hall-of-Famer, but was never able to get the team to the NBA Finals by himself. Duncan was the player that led the franchise to where it is today. All important players in team history, but Duncan is clearly alone at the top.
Timmy came to the Spurs after being named the College Player of the Year and Wooden Award winner as a senior at Wake Forest. With the ability to score, rebound, pass and defend he was a total game-changer from the start.
He teamed with the veteran Robinson to lead the Spurs to a new league-record turnaround, improving from 20-62 in 1996-97 to 56-24 in 1997-98. He averaged 21.1 points, 11.9 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 2.5 blocks per game on his way to All-Star, All-NBA and All-Defensive team selections, as well as Rookie of the Year.
His second year was more of the same minus the All-Star selection, as the game was cancelled. Duncan found another way though to add some hardware, by taking the Spurs to their first NBA championship win and winning Finals MVP. In that Finals series against the Knicks, Duncan averaged 27.4 points and 14.0 rebounds per game.
His dominance continued from there, averaging 22.9 points, 12.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 2.5 blocks per game from 1999-05. In those six years, he had six All-NBA First Team selections, five All-Defensive First Team selections and two regular season MVPs.
In the postseason, he averaged 24.3 points, 13.7 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 2.8 blocks per game, winning two more championships and two more finals MVPs. In the 2003 NBA Finals against the New Jersey Nets, Duncan averaged 24.2 points, 17.0 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 5.3 blocks per game.
The year 2005 is where we shift from dominant Tim Duncan to really good Tim Duncan. From 2005-06 through the 2009-10 season, he averaged 19.0 points, 10.7 rebounds 3.2 assists and 1.9 blocks per game. He went to five more All-Star games and was named to five more All-NBA teams (one First Team) and five All-Defensive teams (two First Teams). He continued to be a 20-10-3-2 guy in the postseason in all these years on the way to another championship.
From 2010-16, we saw the slow and steady decline of Tim Duncan. His numbers started to go down across the board, although he sprinkled in a few All-Star and All-NBA seasons. He got his fifth championship in 2013, where the Spurs got one more knockout against LeBron James and the Miami Heat after losing to them the previous year.
He quietly retired after 2016, his only single-digit scoring season, in very Duncan-esque fashion. He finished his career with 15 All-Star games, 15 All-NBA/All-Defensive Team selections, two MVPs, three Finals MVPs and five NBA championships.
Not only is Tim Duncan the greatest player/pick in Spurs history, but he was the guy that created the San Antonio culture we know today — the quiet and unselfish demeanor that never goes away, never quits and wins year after year. For not only his play, but what he created in this franchise, Tim Duncan is easily the best draft pick in San Antonio Spurs history.