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 in the 2005 to 2009 range for this edition as 2000 to 2004 was last week.
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 2005 draft.
Ian Mahinmi (pick No. 28) – Mahinmi was a solid backup for most of his career and even played some decent minutes for the Spurs. However, if the Spurs had chosen David Lee (who went two picks later), they would have had their young and athletic forward to replace David Robinson. While Rasho Nesterovic, Nazr Mohammed and Fabricio Oberto were on the team, Lee could have carved out some time. His ability to shoot in the mid-range and take some guys off the dribble would have been perfect and the Spurs would have gotten him in the prime years of his career.
Damir Markota (pick No. 59) – This pick would end up getting traded to Milwaukee and he only played in the league for one season. However, if the Spurs had kept the pick they could have drafted C.J. Watson as a solid backup point guard option. Jacque Vaughn was transitioning to his bench coach role at that point and Beno Udrih would end up in Sacramento the next season. Watson could run the second-unit offense and was a solid threat from beyond the arc as well.
Tiago Splitter (pick No. 28) – This is obviously another case where I would not re-draft given the choice. Since we are going to do exactly that, the pick here would now be Carl Landry. He would have been on the team immediately — instead of three years later — and could have given the team a big man presence they could use despite having so many on the roster at the time. He could have taken some minutes from Francisco Elson or rookie Ian Mahinmi.
Marcus Williams (pick No. 33) – This might be one of the best value pick redrafts in this collection as the new pick would be Marc Gasol who went 48th overall in this draft. Pairing him with Tim Duncan and keeping a similar timeline on his development and weight loss would have kept this team a defensive nightmare for years to come. It would have been the second coming of the Twin Towers in San Antonio and period of prosperity other teams dream about at night.
Giorgos Printezis (pick No. 58) – This pick never made his way to the states to play in the NBA so there’s really no wrong redraft here. Having said that, the Spurs could have drafted a guy they ended up stealing anyway in Gary Neal. He could have developed his game in Austin and made his way up the ranks rather than playing overseas and eventually signing with the Spurs in 2010.
George Hill (pick No. 26) – This is another pick that I would rather not change, especially since it ultimately netted Kawhi Leonard. However, the new pick here in this exercise is going to be DeAndre Jordan. He could have been an excellent defensive big to pair with Tim Duncan and an awesome lob target for Tony Parker in the offense.
Goran Dragic (pick No. 45) –This pick was traded to Phoenix, unfortunately. Had the Spurs kept it they could have had Parker’s backup since George Hill wouldn’t have been there in this hypothetical situation. However, if they kept it and picked Sundiata Gaines (originally undrafted), he could have been serviceable backup. He played that role for the three seasons he was in the league. (There were clearly some slim pickings at the end of this draft)
James Gist (pick No. 57) – Here is a player who did not make it to the league either and the Spurs would have been better served picking the likes of an undrafted Timofey Mozgov. He played in the league for eight seasons and won a championship with the Cavaliers in 2016. He had three seasons of averaging a block or better and would have been fine coming off the bench down the road when he eventually made his way over to the states.
Dejuan Blair (pick No. 37) – This was a fine pick at the time and isn’t looked upon too unfavorably in hindsight. However, there was a two-time All-Defensive player who was drafted after him in Patrick Beverley. He could have backed up George Hill until he was traded and then taken over the second unit entirely or played alongside Parker to save him for offense.
Jack McClinton (pick No. 51) – Yet another pick that didn’t pan out. However, the Spurs can take Patty Mills this time around and have a fan-favorite player from the very beginning of his career. He would have backed up George Hill and Tony Parker along with Beverley and they could have been a formidable duo with their offense-defense 1-2 punch.
Nando De Colo (pick No. 53) – De Colo ended up winning a ring with the Spurs, but he didn’t stick around in the league much longer after that. A better development pick would have been to take Joe Ingles who could give the team the spacing they needed as a driver and reliable shooter. He didn’t come over to the NBA until 2014, but the wait would have been worth it.
Stay tuned next week as we dive into the 90s where I will inevitably take flak for redrafting Tim Duncan.