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Spurs Draft Pick Power Rankings: 27-23

Ranking the Spurs draft picks of the Gregg Popovich era.

NBA: San Antonio Spurs at Utah Jazz Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Update: There was a miscommunication between J.R. Wilco and me about whether or not Kawhi Leonard (and by extension Davis Bertans) count as Spurs draft picks. From the NBA’s point of view, no, they are not Spurs draft picks, and if you look up official draft history they are not listed in Spurs archives. However, by all intents and purposes they might as well be since the Pacers wouldn’t have drafted them without the Spurs’ instructions as part of the George Hill trade agreement. So we are now ranking 27 Spurs draft picks, not 25, and future articles will reflect this. Thank you for your understanding. ~ Marilyn

The 2020 NBA Draft is still four weeks away, and barring an unforeseen move (like a trade), the Spurs will be picking in the lottery for the first time since 1997 and only second time in the Gregg Popovich era. As a result, we’re taking some time going back through the Spurs’ draft history under Pop ahead of their most anticipated (and possibly most important) pick in 23 years.

The second round picks who never played for the Spurs have already received a shoutout, and now we’re moving into power ranking the rest of their draft picks. Here are a few rules:

  • Players whose rights were traded on draft night and never played for the Spurs are excluded. That eliminates Leandro Barbosa, Goran Dragic, and 9 other picks.
  • Three picks who have not played for the Spurs but were either first round draft-and-stashes (Livio Jean-Charles, Nikola Milutinov) or picked with the intention of eventually signing but it never worked out (Luis Scola) are included.

The format is simple: both of us compiled our own rankings from the 27 eligible players using our own format, whether it’s based on the player as a whole, contribution to the club, value where selected, the Spurs decision-making when picking those players, or any combination of criteria. The different thought processes is what makes it fun.

Five spots will be released at a time, beginning with 27th through 23rd today. Be sure to keep checking back for the remaining rankings. Enjoy!

Marilyn’s Rankings

27. Livio Jean-Charles (France) | 28th | 2013

Perhaps the only actual bust of all their draft picks, Jean-Charles is one of just two first round picks who has not played for the Spurs in the regular season. It was not surprising that they chose a draft-and-stash at the time considering they planned on running pretty much the same club back to have another go at the Heat, but when LJC did make it over in 2016, he just wasn’t as good as his time with ASVEL suggested. He was waived in the preseason and briefly signed with the Austin Spurs before returning overseas.

26. Marcus Williams (Arizona) | 33rd | 2007

The Spurs acquired the early second-round pick from the Bucks a year prior and used it on Williams. He played one regular season game before being waived and went through three different stints in Austin through 2009. That’s about all there is to say.

25. Nikola Milutinov (Serbia) | 26th | 2015

The other first-round pick who has not played for the Spurs, Milutinov is another draft-and-stash prospect that time is running out on. There was hope that he could make it over some day, but he just signed a new three-year deal with Moscow back in April, so odds are slim-to-none at this point. If nothing else, he would have been solid addition to the Spurs’ precarious front court situation.

24. Jaron Blossomgame (Clemson) | 59th | 2017

Maybe it was his name, infectious smile, or the revelation that the Spurs were lacking in wing depth after what happened in the playoffs that year, but for some reason I was very intrigued by this pick when it happened. Blossomgame seemed like a potential steal at the time, but nothing ever came of it. He helped the Spurs win the 2018 G-League championship and made the training camp roster that fall, but he was waived in the preseason. His only NBA appearance was for the Cavaliers in 2019.

23. Chimezie Metu (USC) | 49th | 2018

This wasn’t necessarily a curious pick as much as it was a strange signing. The Spurs are rarely known to sign second round picks to guaranteed contracts, especially if they aren’t players who experienced an unexplainable fall in the draft. Regardless, they saw enough in Metu that they signed him to a three-year deal in 2018 (2020-21 not guaranteed). He has been developing in Austin for two seasons now with some NBA call-ups, but the Bubble rotation showed he clearly hasn’t come as far as the Spurs had hoped. He has the tools to be a solid NBA player, but the situational awareness just doesn’t seem to be there.

Noah’s Rankings

27. Livio Jean-Charles (France) | 28th | 2013

As much as I hate to throw around the word bust, Livio Jean-Charles might be the only genuine draft-day failure by PATFO. The Spurs gambled on the teenage forward after he showed tantalizing flashes with the Tony Parker-owned French basketball club ASVEL, but his outdated style of play never meshed with the NBA’s growing dependence on the three-ball. After bouncing between Summer League, preseason, and D-League stints with San Antonio, LJC was never able to secure a spot on the Spurs roster and left his NBA dreams behind for a respectable career abroad.

26. Nikola Milutinov (Serbia) | 26th | 2015

A draft-and-stash prospect in the most literal sense, Nikola Milutinov has yet to suit up in Silver and Black almost five seasons after being selected 26th overall. And after signing a three-year deal with CSKA Moscow earlier this year, the chances of the Serbian center ever playing in San Antonio are virtually zero. Of course, hindsight is 20/20, but Larry Nance, Montrezl Harrell, Josh Richardson, and Norman Powell all heard their names called after Milutinov, and could you imagine what the Spurs could have done with any of those players in their developmental system?

25. Marcus Williams (Arizona) | 33rd | 2007

There’s not much to say here. Sure, Marcus Williams scored just four points in three games over two stints with the Spurs, but a second-rounder never had much of a chance to sniff first-team minutes in San Antonio, especially in the heart of the Big Three era. Would they have liked to get more out of the 33rd pick? Probably, though eclipsing Bruce Bowen, Michael Finley, Brent Barry, and Ime Udoka on the depth chart was always going to be a tall ask.

24. Jaron Blossomgame (Clemson) | 59th | 2017

Marilyn summed it up beautifully, and Jaron Blossomgame was simply at the right place at the wrong time. While Blossomgame seemed like a logical fit for a San Antonio team in need of depth at small forward once Kawhi Leonard went MIA, even older rookies such as himself don’t so easily find themselves granted with an opportunity to compete for a spot in the rotation. Finding an NBA home isn’t easy, and being the second-to-last pick only makes it more challenging.

23. Chimezie Metu (USC) | 49th | 2018

Chimezie Metu had some intriguing tools that made him worth a second-round investment in 2018, but the decision to sign him to a guaranteed contract will always be puzzling. So far, the experiment hasn’t paid off for the Spurs, and it’s probably time for them to move on from Metu. Not only has he shown a lack of feel for the game on both ends, but undrafted two-way center Drew Eubanks has outplayed Chimezie by nearly every metric in both the NBA and G-League.