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Spurs Draft Pick Power Rankings: 22-17

Ranking the Spurs draft picks of the Gregg Popovich era.

We’re back continuing our rankings of the all the Spurs draft picks of the Gregg Popovich era. The second round picks who never played for the Spurs have already received a shoutout, and if you missed it you can click here to check out players 27-22. Also, as a reminder:

  • 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.

Marilyn’s Rankings

22. Quinndary Weatherspoon (Mississippi State) | 49th | 2019

Despite the Spurs’ gluttony of guards, they drafted Weatherspoon with their third pick of the draft and signed him to a two-way contract after four years at Mississippi State. His stocky frame makes him hard to get around on defense, but it also gives him muscle on his own drives on offense. He had a solid season in Austin and showed he is capable of holding his own against NBA competition in the Bubble. It’s too early to say if an NBA career awaits (and if it does, it’s probably not with the Spurs), but he’s a solid second round pick.

21. Derrick Dial (Eastern Michigan) | 52nd | 1998

Not every second round pick gets much playing time with the Spurs, but Dial got 33 games across the 1999-00 and 2000-01 seasons before being traded, including in the Tim Duncan-less Spurs’ brief appearance in the 2000 Playoffs. That’s more than many of the Spurs’ second round picks can claim!

20. Luis Scola (Argentina) | 56th | 2002

The one that got away. Although Scola was not as well known as some of his other Golden Generation teammates in Argentina at the time, he quickly became a rising star not long after this pick, helping his country win the 2002 FIBA World Cup and 2004 Olympic gold metals. The Spurs tried to negotiate a deal with Baskonia in 2005 to buy out his contract. They wanted $3 million, but NBA rules prohibited teams from spending more than $500,000 on buyouts, leaving it up to Scola to pay the remaining $2.5 mi. The deal fell through, and in 2007 his rights were traded to the Rockets, coincidently or not when the Spurs mini championship drought began. Had Scola made it to San Antonio, this pick would likely be in the Top 5, but because nothing came of it, we’re left to ponder what could have been.

19. James Anderson (Oklahoma State) | 20th | 2010

With their highest draft pick in 13 years and in desperate need of an infusion of youth on the wing, the Spurs initially appeared to have struck gold. Anderson looked the part on both ends of the court in his first six games before a stress fracture in his foot knocked him out for a couple of months, and he just wasn’t the same player after that. The Spurs waived his rights in the offseason, and although he made another brief appearance with them in 2013, he bounced around the league and was out by 2016. Another great pick at the time that just didn’t work out.

18. Ian Mahinmi (France) | 28th | 2005

Still looking for their next young center to replace the Admiral, the Spurs selected Mahimi (to the surprise of many since he wasn’t even listed in the league’s draft guide). They knew he was a project at the time and monitored his progress overseas before bringing him over in 2007, but injuries plagued his time here. He only appeared 32 games across three seasons and missed the entire 2008-09 season with an ankle injury. When healthy, he has had a productive NBA career since, but he wasn’t the next great foreign steal the Spurs were hoping for.

17. Luka Samanic (Croatia) | 19th | 2019

It’s still early, and Samanic has contributed less to the Spurs than some players ranked behind him, so there’s definitely some projecting going on here. Still, the Spurs have needed to start getting younger and building depth at the forward positions. Although many were surprised the Spurs drafted him as high as they did, it was always about the future since they didn’t need someone who could start right away. He has a good skill set and high ceiling if he meets his potential, and by signing him immediately and taking over his development instead of stashing him overseas, the Spurs showed they are serious about him. He wasn’t NBA ready his rookie season, but he should get a chance to prove himself soon enough.

Noah’s Rankings

22. Quinndary Weatherspoon (Mississippi State) | 49th | 2019

It’s too early to have an opinion on Weatherspoon as a Spur, but the two-way contract signee has some potential on both sides of the ball, and he played well in the G-League last season. San Antonio has a bit of a logjam at guard at the moment, and I doubt he’ll spend much time outside of Austin in 2020-2021. Even if his NBA career takes off with another team somewhere down the road, I wouldn’t consider this mid-second-round investment a failure. He’s still recovering from a knee procedure, so only time will tell if he can get healthy enough to compete for a roster spot.

21. Derrick Dial (Eastern Michigan) | 52nd | 1998

Honestly, I didn’t know much about Derrick Dial when I came across his name. So, I did some research, and it appears he made 41 regular-season and 2 playoff appearances for San Antonio before they waived during the 2001 offseason. Not many 52nd picks make it that far, so kudos to Dial.

20. Luis Scola (Argentina) | 56th | 2002

Marilyn laid out the history of the Scola signing saga perfectly, so I won’t bother you with revisiting it. The Argentinian forward, like many of his Golden Generation countrymen, was a smooth operator with exceedingly high basketball IQ. He wasn’t the best defender, though I believe the Spurs had the personnel to make up for his shortcomings on that end. The squandered Scola union will go down as one of the greatest what-ifs in franchise history. And had he ended up in Silver and Black, San Antonio might have won another ring in the late 2000s.

19. Ian Mahinmi (France) | 28th | 2005

The literal definition of a project player, San Antonio selected Ian Mahinmi much earlier than anyone anticipated. Several untimely injuries derailed his early development, and it didn’t help that the Spurs were still in win-now mode. Mahinmi never quite panned out for PATFO, though he’s gone on to have a fruitful NBA career, including winning the 2011 championship with the Dallas Mavericks and singing a four-year $64M contract with the Washington Wizards during the 2016 offseason.

18. James Anderson (Oklahoma State) | 20th | 2010

Anderson was supposed to be the next great draft-day steal for the San Antonio Spurs, and he looked the part up until a stress fracture in his right foot sidelined him six games into his NBA career. He showed flashes of two-way brilliance here and there, but he was never the player fans hoped he would be. Kawhi Leonard burst onto the scene as a rookie the very next season, and his tumultuous tenure in Silver and Black came to an end shortly after. It’s hard to blame Anderson for flopping with the Spurs, so he gets a pass from me despite being the highest pick since Tim Duncan at the time of his arrival.

17. Luka Samanic (Croatia) | 19th | 2019

As was the case with Weatherspoon, it’s too early to make a judgment call on Luka Samanic. The Croatian forward was always going to be a long-term project, which is why he spent all but three games of his first go-round with the Spurs in the G-League. Most draft experts had him pegged as an early second-rounder, though San Antonio must have seen something special in him to reach so far to attain him. His skill set is intriguing, his basketball IQ is high, and he’s unusually mobile for a big man, though I have questions about his motor and mental toughness. Don’t be surprised if tall Luka spends a substantial share of his second season up I-35 rounding out his game in Austin.