The San Antonio Spurs have made some pretty great picks in previous NBA Drafts. They’ve hit on some diamonds in the rough and have taken some obviously great players when possible. We’re going to take a trip down memory lane and re-draft for the Spurs from 2000 to 2009, specifically up until 2004 in this edition.
The major factors that will be taken into account are: position of need, who was still on the board for their pick (we are not doing a total re-draft so no assumptions elsewhere), and that the picks made in each hypothetical re-draft do not carry over to each season. That would make things entirely too complicated. We will tip things off with the 2000 draft.
Chris Carrawell (pick No. 41) – The Spurs did not have any first rounders to start off the new millennium. However, that doesn’t mean there weren’t some steals to be found in this draft. A stud was taken two picks later in Michael Redd who the Spurs should have absolutely taken. Especially since Carrawell never found his way into the league anyway. He would have given them an upgrade at the shooting guard position and given them the offense to compliment their strong defense.
Redd’s main competition that year would have been Derek Anderson, Jaren Jackson and Derrick Dial. He could have played his way into the rotation if not the starting lineup.
Cory Hightower (pick No. 54) – This pick was traded to the Lakers for two future second-round picks. Assuming the Spurs don’t trade away this player (who also didn’t play in the league), then they could have drafted Ime Udoka right off the bat. He would have been a solid backup like he was for most of his career and would have started his coaching education sooner.
Tony Parker (pick No. 28) – This is obviously a pick that Spurs fans don’t want to see changed. However, for the sake of this exercise we are going to go in a different direction. Imagine if San Antonio had drafted Gilbert Arenas (taken three picks later) and given themselves someone with more offensive punch from the get-go.
He would have had to learn how to be professional in that locker room, but with David Robinson still there and with the leadership of Tim Duncan and coach Gregg Popovich, there is an outside chance his personality could have been handled.
Robertas Javtokas (pick No. 56) – This is another classic Spurs pick in that he never made his way over to the States. To find a replacement here we will go to the undrafted list and find ourselves one Carlos Arroyo. A solid backup point guard who played nine seasons in the NBA, Arroyo would be a decent option at this late pick.
Bryan Bracey (pick No. 58) – There’s an ongoing theme here. Bracey never made it to the NBA and so his spot as the last pick of the draft (before a 30th team was in the league) will be taken by Andrés Nocioni. He was a serviceable forward who averaged double figure scoring for much of his NBA career and could shoot it from outside.
John Salmons (pick No. 26) – This pick was traded to Philly, but if it wasn’t it might have been better utilized on Carlos Boozer who went in the second round. Boozer would have given the Spurs another forward who can shoot in the mid-range and would have found playing time after David Robinson retired before the next season.
Luis Scola (pick No. 56) – This is certainly a player the Spurs wish they would have kept rather than trading his rights to Houston in 2007 when he came over to the States. However, they could have made an ally of someone who would later become their enemy in Udonis Haslem. He was one of the greatest undrafted free agents in recent memory, if not all-time and would have been a delight paired with Tim Duncan.
Randy Holcomb (pick No. 57) – This pick was also traded to Philly, but could have been used on the likes of Reggie Evans. A tenacious rebounder and defensive specialist who could have helped this Spurs clamp down on other teams even more than they already did that season. They allowed the 3rd fewest points points per game at 90.4 for the season.
Leandro Barbosa (pick No. 28) – Barbosa ended up in Phoenix as this was a trade from the Spurs. If they had kept the pick and had to pick someone else, Josh Howard would be a good choice. He did make an All-Star Weekend and was a solid wing scorer in the prime of his career. His career was cut short by injuries and that was the reason the Austin Toros, at the time, cut him from the team.
Beno Udrih (pick No. 28) – While Udrih was a solid pick and was even a good backup his rookie season, we have to make a new pick here. The new pick plays a new position as well in small forward Trevor Ariza. The former second-round pick ends up with a team that can use his shooting, driving and versatility. Perhaps he also becomes less of a journeyman with Linton Johnson and Glenn Robinson moving on after that season.
Romain Sato (pick No. 52) – Sato became another draft casualty as he never saw action in an NBA game. A possible replacement here is Pero Antić who was a bit of a flash-in-the-pan for Atlanta for two seasons. However, he was an enforcer and enjoyed doing the dirty work necessary to win. That might have come in handy against Detroit in 2005, even if the Spurs ended up winning that series.
Sergei Karaulov (pick No. 58) – This was another pick that never panned out as Karaulov did not play in the NBA either. This particular draft was bare bones in regards to available undrafted free agents and so our replacement is less than ideal in Damien Wilkins who had one of the longer careers of the other free agents available. His best season saw him average 9.2 points, 2 assists and 3.2 rebounds per game.
Stay tuned next week as we finish off the 2000s!