Ahead of the 2019-20 season, five members of our NBA.com Staff are holding fantasy drafts for different franchises to see who can build the best team.
First up were the Toronto Raptors. Today, we're looking at the San Antonio Spurs.
Here are the rules of the draft:
- Each team has five starters and a sixth man
- Every player who has represented the franchise since 1967 was available
- One specific season had to be selected for each player and the season selected could only be from their time with the franchise (i.e. what Kawhi Leonard did with the Raptors last season doesn't count)
- It was a snake draft, meaning the pick order was reversed each round
Below are the results from our draft, followed by an explanation from each member about why they made the picks they did.
Who had the best draft?
1. Scott Rafferty (@crabdribbles)
2. Gilbert McGregor (@GMcGregor21)
3. Kyle Irving (@KyleIrv_)
4. Micah Adams (@MicahAdams13)
5. Carlan Gay (@TheCarlanGay)
The order was then reversed each round.
1. Tim Duncan - 2002-03 season
2. David Robinson - 1994-95 season
3. George Gervin - 1977-78 season
4. Kawhi Leonard - 2016-17 season
5. Larry Kenon - 1978-79 season
6. Tony Parker - 2011-12 season
7. Dennis Rodman - 1993-94 season
8. Manu Ginobili - 2004-05 season
9. James Silas - 1975-76 season
10. Artis Gilmore - 1982-83 season
11. Sean Elliott - 1995-96 season
12. DeMar DeRozan - 2018-19 season
13. LaMarcus Aldridge - 2017-18 season
14. Johnny Moore - 1984-85 season
15. Alvin Robertson - 1985-86 season
16. Terry Cummings - 1989-90 season
17. Pau Gasol - 2016-17 season
18. Derrick White - 2018-19 season
19. Bruce Bowen - 2004-05 season
20. Danny Green - 2014-15 season
21. Avery Johnson - 1995-96 season
22. John Lucas - 1983-84 season
23. Swen Nater - 1974-75 season
24. Steve Smith - 2001-02 season
25. Donald E. Freeman - 1974-75 season
26. Brent Barry - 2006-07 season
27. Dejounte Murray - 2017-18 season
28. Marco Belinelli - 2013-14 season
29. Boris Diaw - 2013-14 season
30. Steve Kerr - 2002-03 season
Starting Lineup: Avery Johnson, Danny Green, Sean Elliott, Tim Duncan, Artis Gilmore
Sixth Man: Steve Kerr
A 15-time All-Star, a five-time champion, a three-time Finals MVP, a two-time MVP ... Tim Duncan was an easy choice with the No. 1 pick.
I wouldn't normally go with a more traditional lineup by playing Duncan at centre, but I decided to pair him with Artis Gilmore in the frontcourt instead. While Gilmore's best years were behind him when he joined the Spurs, he was still a walking double-double (18.0 points and 12.0 rebounds) and a strong rim protector (2.3 blocks) at that stage of his career.
Good luck scoring on those two in the paint.
In the backcourt, I went with Avery Johnson, who is one of only nine players to have had their jersey retired by the Spurs, Danny Green, who developed into one of the best 3-and-D wings in the NBA in his time with the franchise, and Sean Elliott, who averaged 20.0 points, 5.1 rebounds and 2.7 assists in the 1995-96 season. The three of them should fit in perfectly with Duncan and Gilmore - Johnson as a floor general, Green as a knockdown shooter and Elliott as a playmaker in the backcourt.
Finally, Steve Kerr brings some sharpshooting off the bench. He connected on 39.5% of his 3-point attempts in the regular season and helped the Spurs win their second championship, leading them to a comeback win in Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals by going a perfect 4-for-4 from 3-point range in just over a quarter's worth of action.
Kerr may have been 37-years-old that season, but it never hurts having one of the best shooters in NBA history on your roster.
Starting Lineup: James Silas, John Lucas, DeMar DeRozan, Boris Diaw, David Robinson
Sixth Man: Bruce Bowen
With a storied franchise like the Spurs, getting the No. 2 pick isn't really a bad thing.
After narrowly missing out on Tim Duncan, taking 1995 league MVP David Robinson wasn't a bad consolation prize at all. The only downfall of picking second was the time it took for the next pick to come around, but I was able to take combo guard James Silas, who is one of just nine Spurs to have their number retired at No. 9.
Last season, Gregg Popovich tapped into DeMar DeRozan's potential as he posted career highs in assists and rebounding; I'll take that version of him to run the 3 for me any day. With my eye on defence and shooting, Bruce Bowen was a no-brainer as my fourth pick - the 2004-05 season was his second of five-straight All-Defensive First Team selections; he also averaged a career-high 8.2 points per game while shooting 40.3% from beyond the arc as he won his second of three NBA titles with San Antonio.
To shore up my backcourt, I took former No. 1 overall pick John Lucas, whose 10.7 assists per game in the 1983-84 season were good for third in the NBA.
Last but not least, I opted to go with Boris Diaw, the catalyst on the 2014 Spurs championship team. Boris brings size, playmaking ability and a basketball IQ that will bring up the play of everyone else on my team as well.
Starting Lineup: Derrick White, Manu Ginobili, George Gervin, LaMarcus Aldridge, Swen Nater
Sixth Man: Marco Belinelli
With the historic frontcourt duo of Tim Duncan and David Robinson off the board at picks 1 and 2, it was a fairly easy decision to take George Gervin with the No. 3 overall pick.
In 1977-78, the Ice Man led the league in scoring with 27.2 points per game, then went on to lead the playoffs in scoring with 33.2 points per game. He was First Team All-NBA and finished second in the MVP voting - a virtually unstoppable season.
As one of the most impactful players in Spurs history, my team was blessed to land Manu Ginobili at the No. 8 pick. In 2004-05, Manu earned his first All-Star selection and scored 20.8 points off the bench in the postseason, leading San Antonio to an NBA title.
In need of a presence in the frontcourt, current Spurs big man LaMarcus Aldridge also fell into my lap. Averaging 23.1 points, 8.5 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game in 2017-18, LA adds a third scorer that makes this team a terror on offence with guys who can score in various ways from anywhere on the court.
Reaching for Derrick White - with Dejounte Murray still on the board - may raise questions, but White's playoff run alone this past season piqued my interest in the 25-year-old guard. Swen Nater led the ABA with 16.4 rebounds per game in 1974-75, giving the roster a physical glass cleaner, and Marco Belinelli's 43.0% shooting from beyond the arc in the Spurs' 2013-14 championship season checked the boxes of a Sixth Man and perimeter shooter.
Starting Lineup: Johnny Moore, Steve Smith, Kawhi Leonard, Dennis Rodman, Pau Gasol
Sixth Man: Dejounte Murray
Getting the 2016-17 version of Kawhi Leonard with the fourth overall pick is nothing short of a steal. That year's reigning two-time Defensive Player of the Year finished third in MVP voting for his second straight top-3 finish while blossoming into an elite 25-a-night scorer.
It's hard enough to score on Leonard at his peak defensively. It's another thing entirely to try scoring on him AND Dennis Rodman, who in the 1993-94 season was still an All-NBA First Team selection and borderline top 10 MVP candidate. Add in rangy young stud Dejounte Murray at the point of attack, the Sixth Man on this team, and there's the potential to cause all types of havoc.
The other three starters all serve specific purposes.
Moore once led the league in dimes and is one of the most overlooked point guards of the 1980s. Steve Smith shot a blistering 47% from beyond the arc in 2001-02, which led the league ahead of renowned shooters like Ray Allen, Steve Nash and Peja Stojakovic. Throw in the wily Pau Gasol, who at the age of 36 was just one year removed from his final All-Star season and shot 54% himself from the 3-point line, and this is a team with defence, shooting and high basketball IQ for days.
Starting Lineup: Tony Parker, Alvin Robertson, Donald E. Freeman, Terry Cummings, Larry Kenon
Sixth Man: Brent Barry
Having the last pick in the draft once again left me at a slight disadvantage, but I was able to lock up Tony Parker and Larry Kenon with back-to-back picks. Everyone knows how nice Parker was, especially in 2011-12 when he was in the conversation as the best point guard in the league alongside Chris Paul. Parker finished fifth in MVP voting that year, averaging 18.3 points, 7.7 assists and 1.0 steals per game.
Kenon, who most casual NBA fans won't really know, went toe-to-toe with Dr. J. in the first-ever dunk contest in the ABA. In 1978-79, he helped power the Spurs to a 48-34 record as they finished first in the Central Division. The Ice Man, George Gervin, led the team that year, finishing second in MVP voting, but Kenon was his right-hand man, finishing the year with his best numbers as a Spur - 22.1 points, 9.8 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 1.9 steals.
Defensively we have Alvin Robertson, whose fingers were as sticky as anyone who's played in the league. Robertson led the league in steals three times in his career - twice as a Spur. His 2.71 career steals average is the best in league history. I'll take his 1985-86 season, when he led the league in steals at 3.7 per game en route to winning Defensive Player of the Year. He also captured the Most Improved Player awards that year.
Terry Cummings' best years were probably spent in Milwaukee, but his first season as a Spur was still pretty solid. He averaged 22.4 points and 8.4 rebounds per game on 32% shooting from three, which isn't much to write home about these days but back in 1989-90 a power forward stretching the floor was a big deal.
Donnie Freeman was an afterthought of a pick. I needed a guard, and we all know what we're getting with Brent Barry. Barry shot 45% from three in 2006-07 - dude is a sniper.
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