The San Antonio Spurs have made drafting late an art form during the Gregg Popovich-R.C. Buford era. Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker headline their success at finding gems deep in the draft, but are hardly the only ones.
The roll call of players picked by the Spurs either late in the first round or in the second includes names like Luis Scola, Tiago Splitter, Goran Dragic, DeJuan Blair, Leandro Barbosa, George Hill and John Salmons. Of course not all played in San Antonio, but the track record is impressive nonetheless.
The Spurs own the last pick of the first round Thursday (30th overall), and the champs could be in position to find another contributor either now or down the line. And this being a deep draft only helps.
ESPN analyst and college basketball expert Jay Bilas is calling the 2014 NBA Draft perhaps the deepest and most talented in a decade, with potential stars at the top and talent still being on the table late in the second round. Bilas discussed the draft on a media conference call Tuesday.
On the Spurs looking at international players vs. American college players:
BILAS: Oh, I’m sure there are a bunch of guys that they’ll be looking at, and there are a bunch of different ways that they can go. They can bring in players that they can wait on a little bit. They can bring in guys that may be a specialist.
I think they’re going to look for the best available player rather than somebody that’s necessarily just going to fit into the team that they have now.
Boy, if only we could all think like the Spurs think, because I think they’re one of the smartest, if not the smartest, organization in sports with the way they handle things. And the way they go about things. They have a confident approach to things, and it’s a together approach, but it’s also one of humility that I really, really respect.
On the Spurs trading out the first round:
BILAS: I think they could. It just depends on what they’re going to get out of it. I think every team sits by the phone and has scenarios, what would we be willing to give up to move up? Who do we want? What would we be able to part with? Would we consider trading out of this pick, and what would we be willing be able to accept with that?
You look at the history of that team, drafting toward the end of the first round, they have really good values. So on some things where you think, oh, what are you going to get there? They’ve gotten starters at the end of the first round, and they got a Hall of Famer â they got two Hall of Famers in the first round and the second. Parker and Ginobili, those are your Hall of Famers.
Even though that was years ago, I think the league is way better at gauging international talent now than it was back then. But what did they get? Ginobili in the 50’s, and they got Parker at the end of the first round. It’s extraordinary to have two Hall of Famers in those spots.
On Michigan forward Glenn Robinson III falling to San Antonio:
BILAS: I think there’s a bunch of guys that would be a really good fit there. K.J. McDaniels is a guy that’s not a shooter, but he’s an athlete. He can defend multiple positions. He’s got a 6-11 wingspan, so he can guard out on the perimeter. He’s a perimeter shot blocker. He’s almost like â¦ Josh Howard from Wake Forest, played for the Mavericks for a lot of years. He’d be kind of like that. And I do think he can make an open shot.
Joe Harris (Virginia) would be another guy. â¦ I think Harris is actually, I think, a better shooter than Robinson III, much better shooter, but he’s not the same kind of athlete. Like Robinson is a better athlete and probably has a little bit more long-term potential and hasn’t realized that potential yet.